Could Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) leave The Walking Dead together? Reunited in Sunday’s Season 10 premiere when Carol returned from months on the ocean as a “sea dog,” the longtime best friends are tired of fighting. Carol lost son Henry (Matt Lintz), murdered by Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton), a death so unbearable it ended her marriage with Ezekiel (Khary Payton). Facing an uncertain future, they consider running away together.
“You ever wonder if this is all there is?” Carol asks Daryl. “Just run into people, kill each other until whoever’s left says enough?” When Daryl admits he thinks they’re just “surviving one fight ’til the next,” Carol suggests hitting the road on his bike and never looking back. New Mexico is named as a potential destination. “No more fighting,” Daryl says. “Just get on the bike and go. See who’s left.” The pipe dream, Carol says, sounds good.
Shortly after, Alpha spots Carol in Whisperer territory. With the survivors pulled back into conflict with this dangerous enemy, will Daryl and Carol actually head west together? According to Reedus, it’s a fantasy shared by a pair of battered fighters — but one that could someday be made real.
“You never know. I just think they’re sitting on a log and they’re daydreaming. Life is so hard sometimes, especially on that show for those characters,” he told EW. “They say ‘What if we did this?’ They’re kind of daydreaming about stuff. We’re kind of window-shopping opportunities. I think it’s what you would do. You’d be, ‘Meh, I just wish things would be different right now.’ So it’s two friends doing that. Sparking a little openness to them.”
Carol openly protests the law handed down by Alpha, who has imposed a border on the survivors under threat of war. But a weary Daryl abides by these rules, telling Carol, “There’s no reason to start sh-t if we don’t gotta.”
“I think Daryl in previous seasons would have just crossed it. But we have all these young people, we have all these new cast members, we have RJ and Judith and all these people we want to protect because they’re the future,” Reedus said. “So I don’t think making a drastic move like crossing the border if you don’t have to would be a smart decision. I think it’s a wiser Daryl than we’ve seen before. He kind of has the ghosts of all these characters that were here before him. Hershel taught him a little something. Rick taught him a little something. Things are as good as they can be right now. So why put everyone at risk making a decision like that? So I think he’s just trying to keep the community and the family together and try not to get people killed.”
Daryl and Carol now find their roles reversed since last season: there Carol pulled Daryl back towards people after the presumed death of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), a loss that drove Daryl to solitary life as a woodsman. With Carol eyeing up Alpha and plotting her vengeance, it’s Daryl’s turn to act as wrangler.
“I think that in some ways, neither of them have run off for good because what that means is really abandoning everybody else, and that’s hard for them,” showrunner Angela Kang told EW. “Even when Daryl was off in the wilderness last season, he was still maintaining ties to the community. It’s just that it had been a long time and Carol felt him slipping away. I think Daryl being a little bit in a different place emotionally right now feels that fear that maybe Carol is slipping away. And then on top of that, she might be slipping away into something really dark. His fear is that she is just on a revenge quest, and that she’s not just at sea trying to heal and being off and having this moment of just being away from it all.”
Carol denied her time away at sea was spent hunting Alpha, and as the season goes on, audiences will learn “whether or not that’s true.”
“But I think for both of them, having that lone wolf mentality means that draw of just going out there is always very strong for them,” Kang said. “And they go through a push and pull of whether they should stay, whether they should go, whether they’re better off alone with just each other, with the group. That’s just what I think is interesting about them, both as characters and as people who are being asked to step up to leadership by their communities.”
In November, Reedus and McBride each inked extensions guaranteeing their involvement with TWD Universe for another three years.