The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang addresses the "different" and "complicated" relationship between longtime best friends Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (Norman Reedus), strained by Carol's reckless pursuit of vengeance against Alpha (Samantha Morton) over the murder of son Henry (Matt Lintz). Before Alpha was slain by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) — a murder orchestrated by Carol three days earlier — Carol's actions left Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Magna (Nadia Hilker) trapped in a cave teeming with walkers and Whisperers. Earlier cut off from rescue, Magna later returned to Hilltop without Connie, who remains missing after being separated from Magna when escaping the cave.
"We've really been building the story with these two so that we're tracking the emotions of this story through Daryl and Carol. They have one of the longest standing relationships and they're in complicated places," Kang told Entertainment Weekly. "They don't know yet Connie's fate, if she has survived or if she hasn't. I think for Daryl, he's always happy to see his friend Carol and to know that she's okay. But there's a lot that has been revealed about what he knew and didn't know and that's complicated."
"For Carol, she's just in a space where she went through this very intense emotional experience," Kang noted. "And so they have one of those friendships where they don't always need to talk to each other, but at the same time, things are certainly different from where they started at the beginning of the season where they were joking about being best friends and really palling around. Everything has taken its toll on both of them."
Reedus earlier compared the strained relationship to Daryl's once fractured bond with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), both having had a falling out over Rick's decision to spare Negan some 18 months before Rick appeared to perish in a bridge explosion.
"Carol's storyline is very similar to that one. Her son was beheaded by this Alpha and she just sees red. She's making poor decisions," he previously told EW after the midseason 10 premiere, "Squeeze." "I have that line, 'We don't fight for revenge. We fight for our future.' And it's me constantly picking up what she's dropping down and I'm not agreeing with it. And she's not listening. And it's poor decision making. It's when you make decisions that are from an emotional place and they're not thought out and she doesn't care who gets hurt. And after so many of these decisions — again, like what I went through with Rick — it's just this blind rage that's leading her down at the start the path and it's not good for anybody."
After Carol's actions in the cave, Reedus added, the Carol and Daryl relationship is "definitely not the same relationship anymore."