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Spoilers for The Walking Dead are below.
When “Twice as Far” came to a close Sunday night, viewers saw an Alexandria that could no longer call Carol a citizen, as her crisis of conscience drove her to leave everyone behind. Her exit might sound like strange behavior to some Walking Dead fans, but it only takes a look back at Carol’s devastation-filled history to justify all of her emotional reactions, even abandoning ship. Here are 11 truly awful moments in Carol’s post-apocalyptic life, with quite a few bringing misery in several ways. After reading, you’re free to resume stapling missing posters to telephone poles in anticipation for next week’s episode.
Demolishing Ed’s Skull With A Pick-AxeWhen Carol was introduced to viewers, it was as the meek-but-mirthy wife of the abusive Ed, and that repugnant louse earned every ounce of pain and shock when he was ambushed by walkers, a death made even more pleasing since it was his own dumb mistake that led to it. While Season 4 Carol would have murdered Ed in his sleep, she wasn’t quite there yet in the first season, but she did get a brutal moment of catharsis after volunteering to destroy Ed’s pre-reanimated skull with a pick-axe. She was definitely going through an intense mix of mourning, relief, anger, fear and the rest of the emotional cocktail that she continued sipping on more and more as time went on.
Seeing Sophia Emerge From Hershel’s BarnCarol spent a good chunk of Season 2 as sullen and downtrodden as one can be. Instead of being able to live her life as a single and unrestricted woman, she had to experience her child going missing. No amount of searching or praying helped Carol during this period, and all of her mental turmoil came to a head when Shane broke open the doors on Hershel’s barn and allowed the walkers inside to escape. When all the other walkers had been killed, Sophia exited the barn doors in full walker form, and it was all Carol could do not to sacrifice herself just for an ill-conceived embrace. Plus, she’ll always have the memory of Rick putting Sophia down for good.
Watching Axel DieSeason 3 saw Carol getting closer to the renegade badass that we’ve grown accustomed to, as she turned her grief into confidence and became skilled at whatever she needed to do, be it shoot walkers or practice giving C-sections. While fans were already drawing hearts around Carol and Daryl by this point, Carol struck up a multi-episode kinship with Axel in the prison, and it seemed like a prospect that had some legs. At least, it did until Axel was shot through the head by the Governor in the middle of a personal story about his family. Carol then had to hide behind Axel’s bullet-ridden corpse, using it as a shield. Least romantic experience ever.
Killing Karen and DavidWhen the flu-ish infection hit the prison in Season 4, it added yet another threat where the targets were completely random. But in the cases of Karen and David, Carol was a much more dangerous presence than any sickness. In a scene that went unseen on the show, Carol took it upon herself to play the quarantine area’s judge, jury and executioner, and she dragged Karen and David’s infected bodies out into the courtyard and burned them. Though her decision was made in the interest of everyone’s safety and health, the cold-bloodedness of her actions was not championed, and Rick felt that exiling Carol was the only option. She came back, though with reservations, but that rejection took its toll.
Finding Lizzie Standing Over Mika’s BodyHaving previously put down the father of Mika and Lizzie, Carol later became something of a surrogate guardian to the sisters, extending the maternal feelings she’d shown Judith in the infant’s early months. But it didn’t take too long for things to take a Sophia-style nosedive, and Carol stumbled upon yet another tragedy when she found the walker-sympathizing Lizzie stabbed Mika to death, with plans to do the same to Judith. This was one of the show’s most mentally crippling deaths, as it proved why a dead world is no place for children, and it forced Carol to make the ultimate choice.
Killing LizzieThis is that ultimate choice. While adult characters like Rick and Carol can go through extreme psychological snaps without getting put down, since it’s assumed they’ll exit the other side okay, the young and overly impressionable Lizzie didn’t get that buffer zone, and Carol and Tyreese agreed in silence that she had to be put down for Mika’s murder. In yet another character-defining moment, Carol painfully tells a crying Lizzie to look at the flowers and then shoots her in the head. It’s insane that this completely draining act was followed by both a burial and Carol’s confession to Tyreese that she killed his girlfriend Karen. Tyreese forgave Carol, though, understanding she makes the hardest choices.
Letting Mary Get EatenWe’ve seen Carol sacrificing members of her group when it seemed necessary, but she still wasn’t really known as a villain euthanizer in the Terminus days. And she technically didn’t kill Mary in that candle-lit room, but she did shoot the cannibalistic matriarch in the leg and then left her for dead after letting a group of walkers inside. Mary was one of the people holding Carol’s once-removed friends hostage, so she definitely would have deserved a direct kill shot from someone, but Carol didn’t go all the way there, instead forcing fate to take over and chomp Mary out of the picture. And while it’s hard to give a shit about Mary specifically, this scene certainly set up Carol’s actions in Season 6.
Getting Hit By a CarGetting accepted back into Rick’s group – and accepting it herself – made it seem like Carol would get a hero’s treasure for her bravery at Terminus. And though she did get some cutesy time with Daryl, it turned into a hunt for the kidnapped Beth that got derailed when Carol was plowed into by a station wagon driven by some of the Grady Memorial Hospital survivors. Not only did it put her in a multi-episode coma, but the character’s presence in that time was experienced through sad flashbacks and characters talking about saving her, leading some viewers to believe that she would be the next to go. But Beth got taken out instead, leading to even more tears being shed.
Almost Killing MorganWhen the Wolves attacked Alexandria, Carol dropped her housewife persona and went into berserker mode, killing many who dared to attack the community. She perhaps took this all-or-none approach too far, though, reacting to Morgan’s imprisonment of the head Wolf with unbridled outrage. In the moment, she would have done anything to guarantee the captured killer’s death, even if it meant savagely killing one of her fellow citizens, and the most peaceful one at that. (Remember when she told Sam that the only way to not become a monster is to kill?) Things could have gone far worse for both, but this moral-crossing moment definitely stuck with Carol, who began contemplating the possible worth Morgan’s kill-free philosophy.
Killing Paula And Watching Her Face Get EatenCarol’s ever-changing worldview took its most recently evolutionary jump in “The Same Boat,” in which she and Maggie were held hostage by The Saviors. While I’d originally thought that Carol’s existential worry during this episode was a lark meant to lower her kidnappers’ defenses, her introspection was apparently legit. She follows Maggie’s instructions to leave no one alive, but Carol still gives Paula a chance to go, perhaps reaching a point of empathy for the villain. Paula didn’t take advantage, and Carol regretfully impales her on a stake and then looks on in horror as a walker chews the cheek right off Paula’s face. This was the last step right before the tipping point.
Burning Those Saviors AliveWhile Carol could probably justify to herself that killing Paula, Molly and Michelle was necessary, since they all posed direct threats, she appeared to be far more troubled by the episode’s final massacre, in which she lured some incoming Savior reinforcements into the winningly titled Kill Room and used a lit cigarette to ignite the gasoline-covered floor. Carol had just gotten off her chest that she’d killed 20 people and was having major trouble let letting her guilt overpower her –which prompts unfortunately useless advice from the now-pragmatic Maggie – and followed that up by watching a handful of people burn to death by her own hand. Understandably, this inferno was the last straw, leaving Carol to believe that she is not capable of sticking with Rick & Co. in a world that necessitates killing others with regularity.
Can Carol come back from this latest trauma, or have all these events piled up in her head and pushed her past an unbearable breaking point? We will have to wait and see when The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC.
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