WARNING: The following article includes spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 3, "Ghosts," which aired Sunday on AMC.
After an excursion into Whisperer territory last week, The Walking Dead's third episode of the tenth season, "Ghosts" lets us catch up with the characters we know and love. The episode opens with a ticking clock and Carol's alarm going off, followed by her popping a pill. We're then taken through hours and hours of zombie slaying as Alexandria is bombarded by wave after wave of walkers.
No one sleeps for over two days. But it turns out when it comes to Carol, that's not exactly a new issue. Since Carol's return to dry land, she hasn't been sleeping. In fact, she's been taking pills to ensure she won't and it seems she may be developing a bit of drug problem as a result. If that weren't bad enough, at this point, she may be hallucinating due to the combination of pills and lack of sleep.
If only Michonne was aware of that -- or knew how deep Carol's desire for revenge against Alpha ran -- because when Alpha summons them to the border, Michonne decides Daryl and Carol should come with her to the meeting. Alpha has specified they should lay their weapons down at the border, but before they depart, Carol retrieves a tiny gun with several bullets from her room -- a weapon unobtrusive enough that she can keep it on her without anyone noticing.
Michonne and Daryl are just happy that Alpha only wants to talk instead of exacting a more deadly penalty for their repeated incursions on her land. (Somehow she knows about all three times the group's crossed the Whisperers' borders.) Alpha is magnanimous enough to consider context, so she simply redraws their borders as punishment for their trespasses. Carol doesn't want to take this lying down, though, and that angers Alpha. Yet, when Alpha demands that Carol lower her eyes to Alpha's feet as a penance for her insolence, Carol refuses. That's when Alpha goes for the jugular. She tells Carol that Henry screamed her name before they took his head.
It should come as no surprise that this is the point at which Carol pulls her gun and fires it at Alpha. However, Daryl and Michonne still believe diplomacy with the Whisperers is preferable to war. So Daryl prevents Carol's shot from hitting its mark and Michonne appeals to Alpha on Carol's behalf. Fortunately, motherhood seems to be the one thing that Alpha is somewhat understanding of. She forgives Carol for her actions "mother to mother."
On their way back to Alexandria, Carol claims to see three Whisperers on their land. However, when Michonne and the others can't find any trace of them, Michonne questions whether Carol really saw them at all -- along with Carol's pill use. Carol gets defensive but also points out that they can't stay outside all night.
They find shelter in an abandoned school -- and it's at this point that it slowly becomes apparent that Carol is hallucinating. First she sees the faces of Henry, Sophia, and other deceased people on the cover of a discarded textbook. Then, after taking first watch and continuing to pop pills, Daryl tells her a story about his truck driver father hallucinating a woman on the road due to lack of sleep. Yet, when Carol refers to the story later Daryl's confused: his father wasn't a trucker.
Carol insists on taking another shift and goes patrolling through the building again. She's snared by the leg and hung upside down. Then she's approached by a Whisperer, followed by a band of walkers. She shoots at them and calls Daryl for help. Then she uses a knife to take out the walkers and free herself from the snare. As her shift ends, Daryl and Michonne find her standing over a pile of walkers (maybe).
Whatever happened Carol was badly injured, so Daryl and Michonne get her to Siddiq to have the large shard of glass that's embedded in her arm removed. Of course, Siddiq is still experiencing severe PTSD from his time with the Whisperers. Seeing his distress, the new doctor takes over and does the bulk of the work to patch Carol up. On the plus side, the injury requires Carol to sleep.
It's hard to tell what's real throughout this night-time sequence (or where Carol got the timer to measure her shifts), but the one constant is Daryl repeatedly encourages Carol to stop taking the pills and tells her she needs to sleep -- two things Carol refuses to do.
When Carol "wakes up" in the morning, she dreams that she comes downstairs to music playing and Daryl cooking. Daryl gives her money to go to the store and then Henry calls to her from his seat at the table. This is followed by Carol waking up and coming downstairs for real. All of her pills are gone.
Carol again insists to Michonne that she saw the three Whisperers on their land. Michonne doesn't believe her, but later Daryl claims he does. The question is: do we?
In the final moments of the episode, we're taken on a tour of the bloodied floor of the building where Carol, Michonne, and Daryl hunkered down for the night. The camera moves over three bodies. One appears to be shot in the abdomen. Just as the episode ends, the camera pans up this body and the eyes behind the Whisperer's walker skin mask open. What the...?
It's hard to tell precisely what we saw from Carol's perspective was real and what wasn't in this episode. But if the last few seconds were any indication, she didn't hallucinate those three Whisperers.
The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton, Cooper Andrews, Avi Nash, and Samantha Morton. It airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.