WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere, "Lines We Cross."
AMC's The Walking Dead has stayed true to the source material when it comes to allowing its villains go all out, giving us heartbreaking deaths that are nearly too much for the heroes to take. From the Governor's reign to Negan's killing spree to even the loss of Rick Grimes, there are too many tragic moments to count.
However, following the events of Season 9, in which the Whisperers places a few familiar heads on spikes, Season 10 confirms that one major protagonist is broken, possibly beyond repair.
It's none other than Carol (Melissa McBride), which is a shock, considering she's been the bedrock for the survivors. She's never buckled under pressure, and endured hit after hit, moving forward and retaliating with just as much fury. But following Alpha and the Whisperers placing the head of her adopted son, Henry, on a spike, Carol is more or less defeated, and doesn't possess the will to fight on.
Last season, she displayed resilience following Henry's death, forgiving Alpha's daughter, Lydia, and fighting off walkers. Carol obviously knew they had to trudge on, although the only person she could connect with was Daryl. She eventually broke off her relationship with Ezekiel, because he reminds her too much of Henry. But now, that spirit has waned.
In The Walking Dead's Season 10 premiere, "Lines We Cross," Carol has a less-feisty attitude when she returns from fishing for the communities, the role Michonne filled in the comics. When she gets back to Oceanside, she exchanges pleasantries with Ezekiel, but they're brief. He's nervous, telling her she looks good; he's still in love. However, Carol brushes him off, and instead opts to spend time with Daryl. As she chats with Daryl, Carol makes it clear she's staying only temporarily as she awaits the next ship. And when he reveals they discovered a Whisperer mask washed up on shore, leading Michonne to take a group scouting, Carol surprises by refusing to join the hunt.
Instead, she and Daryl set off after deer, biking, shooting bows and talking about what the world has to offer. It's an existential conversation on whether this is all that's left in the apocalypse, with Daryl thinking they're merely surviving, not living. He wonders about other pockets of survivors strewn the country, leading Carol to ask him to "run away" with her and become a pirate on the next boat. He admits that's not him, but he does entertain her suggestions they take his bike and hit the road.
Still, the way he sees Carol searching for a way out, he can tell she is no longer the same. That fire seemingly died when she saw Henry's decapitated head. Still, Daryl detects an ember of the old Carol: One of the deer they kill is in Whisperers' territory, and she insists on crossing the border to retrieve it. Daryl opposes that, only for Carol to insist she doesn't want to obey a law she didn't agree to, especially as there are no Whisperers around. They eventually leave empty-handed, but there are clear indications in the scene that Carol may have some fight left.
After putting out a forest fire, Daryl tells Carol he wants her to stay, because their place is with the alliance. She seems reluctant to accept it as they wander off from their pack, but when Carol catches a glimpse of Alpha in the forest, she becomes infuriated once more. Any fear she had initially has turned to hatred.
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, Samantha Morton. It airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.