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Before The Walking Dead reached Alexandria and opened up its limited world of survivors, the cast was small enough so that it was pretty obvious whenever a particular character would be important to the plot. Here in Season 7, though, there are almost too many people to keep a close eye on, with story details being formed outside of viewers' knowledge. (Take, for instance, the bare mention of Fat Joseph's explosion-based strategy for warding off walkers.) And one particular character who will likely soon move from the shadows to the spotlight is The Sanctuary's doctor, Emmett Carlson.

First introduced this season in a very limited fashion, Army Wives' Tim Parati portrays Dr. Emmett Carson, who apparently was a real physician before the outbreak happened, unlike the late Denise, who'd switched from surgery to psychiatry. As such, he's an extremely valuable member of the community, especially one that so often engages in violent and deadly behavior. And it's entirely possible that Negan's need for such a high-functioning member of society was greater than Emmett's desire to join the tyranny, and that the good doctor was brought to The Sanctuary against his will.

The only times we've seen Emmett Carson on screen were in "The Cell" when he tended to Daryl after talking to Sherry about her potential motherhood, and then again in the scene where Negan burns half of Mark's face. He'd seemed almost kind when talking to Daryl, and he was later seen standing next to him during said face-burning. Is it really a coincidence that Daryl was given the means to escape The Sanctuary soon after that scene? It might seem like a foolish leap of logic to casual TV viewers, but comic readers know that Negan has a bit of trouble corralling his medical help.

After all, he's not the only Carson family member in this show, and family doesn't usually split apart willingly in the post-apocalypse. Remember the doctor that looked into Maggie's pregnancy issues at The Hilltop? That's Harlan Carson, Emmett's brother. Without getting too big into spoilers, the comics had the brothers go separate ways because of Negan, and while Emmett wasn't the most miserable person in The Sanctuary, he also wasn't willing to remain distanced from his sibling forever. Why should we expect his live-action counterpart to feel any different?

Maybe Dwight's transition into reluctant hero from the source material won't be quite as clearly laid out, and the Carson brothers will take on bigger roles in the story moving forward. Or maybe Dwight, Emmett and more Sanctuary regulars will get sick of their predicament and mutiny. Things are going to get crazy in the back half of the season, with many surprises still in store for fans.

The Walking Dead will return to AMC for the remainder of Season 7, perhaps with renegade doctors on the loose, on Sunday, February 12, at 9:00 p.m. Head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what you'll be able to find hitting the small screen soon.

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