29. Carol and Daryl Reunited at the Kingdom
Episode 710 “New Best Friends”
Original Airdate: 2/19/17
Submitted By: Charlotte Anne
Carol and Daryl are one of the iconic teams on The Walking Dead, and after a long separation, their reunion in episode 10 was one of the highlights of the season.
It was also one of the best-acted and most emotional scenes: Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus just happen to be very good actors who are even better when acting together, and as is often the case, they were able to convey many feelings while using very few words.
This scene also stands out because, for both characters, it seems to be a very special moment compared to their other scenes in season 7. Daryl has spent most of season 7 looking emotionally dead, apart from a few occasional outbursts and breakdowns. His scenes have been pretty hard to watch and there hasn’t been much room for more subtle, bittersweet emotional moments such as this one. Reedus does a great job to convey Daryl’s mixed feelings: the happiness of seeing Carol again, and the sadness and hurt of knowing that she decided to leave without even telling him.
As for Carol, even though we know that she’s been having some sort of depression, or moral crisis, since at least the end of season 6, she has consistently worn a mask of cold determination and detachment. She decided to get away from those she cared about because she could no longer handle having feelings. She could no longer take the pain and the responsibility that went with losing people, and having to kill to avoid losing more people. Since the beginning of the show, Daryl has always been the one person she could be vulnerable with, and this scene is no exception: Carol finally breaks down and admits that she is just no longer able to bear the emotional strain of her life in the apocalypse. Melissa McBride, who never disappoints, is phenomenal in this scene.
Many viewers had been anticipating this reunion for one reason in particular: they expected Carol to finally hear the truth about Glenn and Abraham from Daryl. Yet, Daryl surprised everyone – and frustrated many – by choosing to lie to Carol. This was a particularly unusual move from Daryl: he is authenticity personified, and actually, may not ever have uttered another lie in the course of seven seasons. The Daryl we are used to either keeps quiet, or speaks the truth. But not this time.
How could he reveal the truth, after hearing Carol say that she feared she would be utterly broken if she went back to fighting? His attempt at lying was feeble, and the delivery highly unconvincing, but Carol really wanted to believe him. That was what she desperately needed to hear at this time. She wasn’t ready to hear the truth yet. Only after processing all these emotions, was she able to confront Morgan and demand the truth – which she still didn’t get until Morgan himself decided it was no longer possible to pretend they could stay out of the fight.
Since promotional pictures suggest that Carol and Daryl will be back as a team in season 8, it will be interesting to see if the issue of Daryl’s lie is every discussed. Will Carol resent him, or will she see this as proof that Daryl cares for her?