The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang sheds light on what's next for Carol (Melissa McBride) after hitting "rock bottom" in the explosive midseason premiere, where the one woman war she's carrying out against Alpha (Samantha Morton) to avenge murdered son Henry (Matt Lintz) may have cost Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Magna (Nadia Hilker) their lives. The pair are the only members of the trapped group of heroes not to make it out of the cave filled with the Whisperers' walker horde, which Carol attempted to destroy with a discovered stick of dynamite that ultimately caused the cave's exit to prematurely collapse.
"For Carol, she has been so driven by vengeance against Alpha, so there are a couple of things that happen from this. We've been thinking of this moment like this is her rock bottom," Kang told EW. "It's almost like she's addicted to the idea of revenge against Alpha, and she's been spiraling and going kind of darker. The thing with a story about vengeance is of course it's really satisfying to think, 'Yeah, get revenge against the people who've wronged you and who've killed those you love' and all of that."
"But vengeance is complicated and there's got to be consequences to it because you can have blinders on. So that's part of the story that we're telling with Carol," Kang continued. "Now in some ways, she's motivated more than ever to try to finish this mission, because otherwise it was all for nothing. And yet she knows that she has things that she needs to repair. She knows that she's going to want to redeem herself at the same time."
That means repairing her fractured relationship with best friend Daryl (Norman Reedus), left distraught by the possibility Connie is gone forever.
"I think Melissa does a beautiful job playing all these complicated layers of the character throughout the season. So we will see Carol pursuing multiple things for the rest of the season," Kang added. "There's obviously the Alpha of it and the Whisperers, but there's also the feeling of, 'I might need to make things better with some of the people that I love too.' Lots to come for Carol."
Kang believes Daryl and Carol are soulmates, whether or not their bond develops into a romantic one, but "this is a low point for them."
"We really wanted to explore their friendship in a deep way this season because I think it's one of the most interesting relationships that we have on the show. It's a long relationship. They've been through so much together," Kang said. "There's friends who are really just kind of a step above acquaintances and it's fun with them, but I think friendship in the deepest sense, people have to be able to tell each other the truth and have these feelings with each other and go through things, because otherwise, when we talk about friendship in the deepest sense, is that friendship?"
She continued, "So we wanted to show the fun part of their friendship, which they've always had this kind of playful thing since Season 3, and yet also Daryl feels like he's got to tell her the truth, which is that he sees her on a self-destructive path. She's got to be honest with him at moments going like, 'Here's what I'm feeling. Here's my pain. She killed my boy.' And then it's like she wants him to punish her. There's so much complication between them, but I think that's what true friendship is. And especially in this apocalypse, they have each other's backs, but that doesn't mean it's always easy or pretty."
"There are moments like this where the betrayal feels so deep and so bad, and where the guilt is so deep and so bad for Carol," Kang concluded. "They're going to have to work their way through that in whatever way that they do. That's definitely part of the emotional story that continues on through the season."