The Walking Dead’s Merle Dixon: Loving Brother Or Psychotic Redneck?
For better or worse, Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) is having a moment on The Walking DeadSeason 3.
He wasn't around on Season 2. The last time we saw him, on Season 1, he was chained to the roof of a building in Atlanta. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) did the job because Merle was getting full-on crazy racist with T-Dog (IronE Singleton). The group went back to Atlanta to save Merle, but when they only found his arm left, his brother Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) screamed in angst. Daryl stayed with the prison group, though, becoming Rick's new right-hand man. And now we see that Merle found his way to Woodbury where he became The Governor’s (David Morrissey) right-hand man. (Hand puns! Always fun.)
On Season 3, Episode 6, "Hounded," Merle learned that Daryl is still alive. He wants to find his brother, and apparently he's going to torture poor Glenn (Steven Yeun) to make it happen.
Michael Rooker plays Merle and he defended his character to the L.A. Times.
“Merle for me has always been not at all what I think most people think of Merle, as somewhat of a cliched Southern bigoted redneck,” Rooker said. “Merle’s been around the world, been around the corner a few times, had some knocks and bruises, encounters with law enforcement. And you know what? He’s a tough mofo, you don’t want to mess with him. In the way I sort of envisioned and developed the character, so far Merle is not some sort of psychopathic killing machine — when it comes to zombies, yes, he absolutely loves it and is quite good at it. [But now] Merle’s kind of found a home, but there’s still something missing, his family. His family is his brother."
Merle and Daryl are blood "and that's deeper and stronger than anything," Rooker said. Also on Episode 6, we heard from Daryl that their mother was burned up in a house fire while smoking cigarettes in bed. Since Daryl was a child at the time, it does sound like Merle probably had to take on a special tough-love caretaker role.
"If Daryl came home moaning about somebody picking on him, I see Merle picking him up by the nape of his neck, dragging him outside, going over and calling the guy out and saying, 'OK, let’s have it out,'" Rooker said. "The tough straightforward attitude and way of dealing with issues, it’s a crazy kind of respect that people enjoy with characters like Merle.”
How do you feel about Merle? Are you able to see past how he was on Season 1? Are you looking forward to seeing the Dixon brothers reunited?