So in my mind Daryl had feelings for Carol back before Sophia ever went missing. I don't think he dared show anything like that up until the Cherokee Rose but back when it was Carol and Sophia do you think he ever thought about it? Like the what-ifs and could they ever be HIS family and whether he might be a step-dad for her little girl? And if he was okay with that? I think he did and I believe he would have been wonderful :') Just late night feels getting the better of me <3
Thank you for the late night feels, nonny. :)
Ever since seeing this panel, I’ve believed that it was TPTB’s original plan. Even though they cut out that good stuff – like Daryl trying to mimic Lori and Rick, and passing the bottle of wine to Carol at the CDC – I still think that Daryl probably developed feelings for Carol back when they were at the quarry. Even though it wasn’t shown, I think that’s the way it was intended to be. My theory is that Daryl probably started feeling something for Carol at the quarry because she reminded him of himself. And he probably admired her, and I imagine he spent a lot of time (subconsciously or not) watching her and Sophia. He was probably watching them when Ed was still alive, and I’m sure the parallels and similarities between him and Carol struck him. Then after Ed died, after that moment when he watched her bash on her deceased husband’s corpse – Daryl’s interest and feelings intensified.
But Daryl being Daryl, he probably had no idea what the hell this was. With everything that happened, Merle, the CDC, etc – Daryl didn’t even have much of a chance to process what he was feeling.
I think that if Daryl had thoughts like you mentioned – the what ifs (which I like to believe he did) – then it was probably after Sophia went missing, and while he was looking for her. Because I think that it was during that period when he realized he was starting to feel something for Carol. Something foreign, something he’d never felt for anyone before.
I think that the Cherokee rose moment was the moment it truly started to dawn on Daryl that talking to Carol felt different than talking to Rick or Glenn or anyone else. Because look at him;
[.gif by @valramorghulis]
this is the first time that the audience is shown this sweet, shy, fidgety, blushing side of Daryl. And it is shown and revealed to Carol. It’s the first time he goes from being a gruff and tough redneck, to this kind guy who picked Carol a flower just to make her feel better.
So I believe that when he gave Carol that flower, Daryl started to realize that it was different with her. That he looked at her differently than he looked at anyone else. And it just grew and progressed from there.
Anyway, I just got off-topic there. But to answer your actual question: yes. I think that Daryl probably had a lot of thinky thoughts about family while searching for Sophia. When he screamed at Carol, “Sophia wasn’t mine”, I felt like maybe that reflected some inner thoughts he might have had regarding that.
Another thing I thought of when I got this message was what Kirkman said once, on the Talking Dead episode after Pretty Much Dead Already. I don’t remember his exact words, but the gist was that there was an alternate story-line where Sophia didn’t die, and Daryl found her and brought her back, but she was very wary of him and would glare at him a lot. (Probably ‘cause she knew he was looking at her mom.) And he would glare back. So it sounded like they kind of had a cute little dynamic planned between Sophia and Daryl, even though they ultimately ended up killing her.
I feel that, had Sophia survived, then her, Daryl, and Carol would have made the cutest post-apocalyptic family ever.