As The Walking Dead season 10 enters its (delayed) home stretch, the Whisperer War is drawing to a bloody conclusion. The writing was on the wall when Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) killed the Whisperer’s leader Alpha (Samantha Morton) two episodes back. Surprisingly, the former lead of the Saviors had been working with Carol (Melissa McBride) to bring about Alpha’s death the entire time.
Part of what made that reveal so surprising was the fact that Carol hadn’t told any part of her plan to her best friend, Daryl (Norman Reedus). And, as it turns out, she had a very good reason for that. “She didn’t want any interference, and she was willing to take the risk and be dishonest with him about this,” McBride told Insider. “She didn’t want there to be just one more thing to pile on the horrible things that she’s already, you know, the consequences of those things that she’s done.”
Carol has gone through quite the change this season, brought on by Alpha and the Whisperers killing many of her close friends and adopted family. Still, why would she set free the man responsible for horribly killing Glenn and Abraham back in season 7?
Well, I think for one thing, she is having a hard time trusting herself. Maybe not so much trusting herself, but she had a lot of eyes on her. She was trying to do this on her own, as much as she could, and then I think she just figured, who has the most to gain here that could help me out? And I think freedom is a big deal, and freedom and respect are something that she figures Negan would really want and really need. So I think that’s why she frees him.
In last night’s episode, Carol is haunted by Alpha. McBride explained how vengeance isn’t something her character is equipped to handle, which is why she went on that episode-long walk down memory lane before deciding she wanted to live and turned back home for Alexandria.
“What she really wants, it’s what she’s always wanted: to live and to love, and to try to keep safe those people that she love,” said McBride. “Alpha even says to her or she says to herself, ‘They keep bringing you back.’ But I think she’s finding those answers, what she doesn’t already know, and she’s finding anyway. But I was happy to see that she wanted to live. She did want to live and there is a great deal to live for, and then she made the choice to go back [to Alexandria].”
Still, just because she faced her demons and turned once again toward home — where Daryl was waiting for her — doesn’t mean Carol is going to have an easy road to travel from here on out. “I think just coming face-to-face with all of those things that she’s had to do and the losses that she’s experienced, things that she’s tried to shove down, this was certainly a way to bring all of that up,” McBride said. “It needed to be done, and I don’t think this is a sigh or a breath of fresh air or a sigh of relief for her necessarily. There’s more to come and there’s also more to answer for.”
Unfortunately, we may have to wait a bit to see the final conclusion of Carol’s arc this season. While the next episode, “The Tower,” will air this Sunday as planned, the season 10 finale, “A Certain Doom,” has been pushed back on account of the coronavirus. But McBride says Episode 15 serves as a good enough finale…for now. “And episode 15 now becoming the finale, is, in itself, turns out is a really good finale and also gives the fans something really wonderful to look forward to as soon as we can get that up. I think this is all about looking forward to something.”
Turning to Daryl and Negan, the pair spent last night’s episode looking for Carol, so Negan could prove to Daryl that he actually had killed Alpha. At one point, Negan refers to Carol as Daryl’s girlfriend; McBride wasn’t in the scene, but had fun watching it.
I was watching that as a viewer, and it’s not anything Carol is privy to obviously, but as I was watching Daryl’s reaction [laughter] and he was just barely … He was stoic. I don’t know. I was expecting there to be some sort of comeback but there wasn’t.
But just because they spent an episode acting like buddies, showrunner Angela Kang says fans shouldn’t expect Daryl and Negan to be best friends forever.
“I think there’s a little bit of a thaw, but I don’t think he really loves this guy yet,” Kang told Entertainment Weekly. “I don’t know that he totally trusts him. He was very aware that Negan was having maybe a bit too much fun once he got the gun back from the Whisperers, and Negan is complicated, and Negan killed people that mattered a lot to Daryl. For Daryl, the loss of Glenn and Abraham was huge for him, and all these people that died in that war, and I don’t think that that’s something that’s easily left behind.”
For viewers who’ll remember back to Season 9, he [Daryl] was the one that was really all in with Maggie on executing this plan of maybe taking him [Negan] out. And so, for Daryl, all of it is a complicated relationship, but Daryl’s a pretty pragmatic guy and he sees this guy — he did do some stuff that was good, and so I don’t think that that’s lost on Daryl. But at the same time, is he ready to call this guy his best friend? I don’t think so.
As for what fans can expect of next week’s episode, Kang says “[w]e will see what our people have been doing in the aftermath of the Hilltop war now that some of the truth has come out.”
You’ll see our clever folks and their plans to finish out this conflict. And we’ll also see this group on their own journey with Ezekiel, Yumiko, Eugene and as they figure out how to deal with this new character that they’ve met, and they’ve got their own adventures. But it all crashes towards this epic conflict now that Beta has taken leadership of the Whisperers. What does that mean for our people now? And so it’ll be exciting. I hope people will tune in and watch it.
The Walking Dead season 10 comes to a close — for now — this coming Sunday, only on AMC.