The Walking Dead is "not trying to pit any shippers against each other," showrunner Angela Kang says of fan factions calling for Donnie, coupling Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Connie (Lauren Ridloff), or Caryl, a romantic relationship between longtime best friends Daryl and Carol (Melissa McBride). The midseason 10 premiere, "Squeeze," ended with Carol, attempting to take out half the walker horde amassed by Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton), accidentally causing a cave-in leaving Connie and Magna (Nadia Hilker) trapped. Whether the Hilltop heroes are buried alive or dead, Carol's actions endangered someone who emerged as a romantic prospect for Daryl, and the best friends currently are not on speaking terms.
"We're not trying to pit any shippers against each other," Kang told Insider. "I think the interesting thing is everybody ships Daryl with somebody else. I think we've always tried to portray that Connie and Carol actually really like each other, and I think that we've shown that Carol thinks that Connie is maybe a good person for Daryl."
"There's no, certainly amongst the characters, there's no sort of animosity, which adds to the sense of shame and pain and guilt, and everything for Carol, because it's somebody that she knew was important to Daryl regardless of whether he is comfortable saying anything about it, or whether he's aware, or whatever it is," Kang said. "[Daryl and Connie], at the very least, have a friendship that matters."
Daryl and Connie's sister Kelly (Angel Theory) were wrecked when the cave's exit exploded, an outcome that left Carol distraught. However that plays out, Carol is racked with guilt after hitting "rock bottom."
"Carol, she really likes Connie too," Kang added. "It's very painful for her to think that any harm might have befallen Connie as a result of her actions."
Connie, who communicates primarily through American Sign Language, shared a touching moment with Carol when she signed into her palm: "U R OK." Ridloff later said the "great bonding moment" was among her favorite scenes in the episode.
"Right now of course they have the Donnie shippers and the Caryl shippers, the wars with the fans, but I think it was just a moment to show everybody that Connie and Carol are two very mature women who have a relationship and a rapport outside of this man, that he doesn't even have to be involved," Ridloff said on Talking Dead. "And the fact that Connie was able to do something that involved just the simple touch of the hand, and to have that moment of humanness, it's almost like holding her hand. Holding her hand would have been babying Carol, and it wasn't anything like that. I think it was a creative way for Connie to give Carol that support."