Daryl’s Monster: The Dixon Brothers in Chupacabra
BG Blogger discusses how Merle Dixon is Daryl’s Chupacabra in The Walking Dead Episode of the same name
With some episodes of The Walking Dead, it takes a little thinking to uncover why a particular title was chosen, but in the case of “Chupacabra,” episode 205, the name is uttered within the first 15 minutes of the episode.
When discussing the plans to go out and look for Sophia, Dale tells a story about Daryl.
Rick and Jimmy laugh, aggravating Daryl who says:
Still amused, Rick replies:
If you’re not familiar with what a chupacabra is, Rick does give a good summary. A legendary creature much like bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster, the chupacabra is believed to be a furry, dog-like creature that sucks the blood out of its victims. The fabled creature is also said by some to be invisible.
When Daryl is alone by the creek, looking for Sophia, injured by his own arrow, it’s not a chupacabra that he thinks he sees. What visits him is his brother, not in the flesh, but as a conjuring of his subconsciousness.
From the moment he appears, the hallucination of Merle mocks Daryl for lying there.
Merle asks Daryl why he’s even out there, and he tells him that he’s looking for Sophia.
Immediately, Merle reverts to making Daryl fill guilty for leaving him behind.
He then goes on to try and poison his mind against Rick and the others, telling him:
The two discuss the past:
And Merle taunts Daryl until he finally reaches the top of the embankment.
Throughout the encounter, Daryl is aware that Merle isn’t really there, that it’s his own mind bringing the figure to life. To anyone else, Merle would be invisible, but his presence in Daryl’s mind, his imprint on his memory is there just the same.
In the episode that precedes “Chupacabra,” “Cherokee Rose,” Daryl reaches out to Carol, giving her the flower and trying to give her some comfort. The moment is a tender, heartfelt one, a far cry from the standoffish, angry interactions that Daryl has had with much of the group during Season One.
At this point in the series, Daryl is slowly opening up and becoming a full member of the group that is slowly forming the bonds of family. But it’s clear from his visions of Merle that there is a part of Daryl that is afraid to get comfortable, scared that they will turn on him, terrified that he does not belong.
It’s no surprise that the voice in his head that keeps Daryl from feeling comfortable with the others is that of Merle. Although it’s obvious later in the show that Merle loves Daryl, he is emotionally abusive toward him, and has a tendency to tear him down rather than build him up.
Like a vampiric chupacabra, Merle had been sucking the joy, the confidence, the self worth from Daryl his whole life. Now, even when he is not beside him, his invisible ghost has sunk in its teeth.
Echoes of words Merle has likely said to him in the past sound in Daryl’s mind, leaching out the positive feelings that are allowing him to connect with Carol and the others.
Merle doesn’t exist in this episode, but as he says himself:
Within Daryl’s mind, Merle, like the chupacabra, is all too real. In many ways, they are one and the same.
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