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Spoilers are below for those who haven't yet watched The Walking Dead's Season 9 finale, so be warned.
The Walking Dead's fanbase hopefully didn't expect to see any major casualties going down in the icy Season 9 finale, what with all the heads that rolled the week before. Still, "The Storm" did manage to give various characters other forms of loss to deal with, such as Carol and Ezekiel solidifying their break-up/divorce. As emotional as that split might have been, it no doubt inspired many viewers to start beating the drum anew for sparks to fly between Carol and Daryl.
When CinemaBlend spoke with The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang ahead of the Season 9 finale, we had a good-hearted laugh over the fans' undying desire to see Carol and Daryl getting romantic on the show. While she wasn't making any promises about casual hookups, she did confirm that Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus will be working together quite a lot when Season 10 comes around. In her words:
I've said it before. I think, regardless of whether right now Daryl and Carol are in any kind of romantic entanglement, they are soulmates in that they just get each other perfectly. They have each other's backs. They're best friends. They can be honest in ways that are very specific to that relationship, and so they are always a really important part of each other's lives. A major part of the story that we are already working on for Season 10 has to do with Daryl and Carol, and how are each of them coping in the aftermath of everything with the Whisperers; how do they deal with that conflict going forward? So there's tons of story planned for Daryl and Carol. Norman and Melissa love working with each other. So you know, other than that, I don't want to give away anything that compromise us story-wise. [laughs] But yeah, it's one of our most fun relationships to write for in the show.
Now that's some news that Walking Dead fans can stand behind, especially the fans that consistently clamor for the show to get Carol and Daryl together in more scenes. Such viewer-based hopes, it's worth pointing out, have been going for ages, since Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus are the only two remaining cast members who have been around since Season 1.
And just look at how cute they were together for McBride's episode of the AMC series Ride with Norman Reedus.
With that being the case, one might think that the writers could and would find ways to regularly keep them together on screen. Of course, it always helps to spread the more established characters around to assist in bringing newer characters into the narrative fold. For instance, Daryl and Carol had some truly meaningful scenes together in the early days of Season 9, but it was all to set Daryl up as a quasi-mentor to Henry, who won't be around anymore in Season 10.
To that end, fans might not want to invest too many fantastical hopes into Carol and Daryl's shared narrative in Season 10, considering Henry's murder is going to be fueling some or all of their conversations. Neither Daryl nor Carol are around in the Walking Dead comics at this point, so it's difficult to gauge how they're going to deal with their vengeful feelings and motivations in Season 10.
Perhaps Carol can continue subtly molding Daryl into becoming a more well-rounded person, and can draw him away from making dangerous and impulsive decisions in the name of getting revenge. He definitely has a bad habit of doing the worst things at the worst times. (Just ask Glenn.) But then maybe Daryl will be the one to influence Carol in certain ways, maybe by inspiring her to emotionally move on from things without having top-to-bottom breakdowns.
Although the comic books set up a specific character to venture out to find and threaten Alpha after the big fair murders, it's possible that The Walking Dead TV show is setting up Carol and Daryl as the ones who infiltrate the Whisperers camp. Granted, just about every single protagonist on this show has brutal ideas for how Alpha and Beta deserve to be punished, so place your best on who might get to actually take their first shot at Alpha.
Here, Angela Kang talks about the overwhelming fan appreciation for Carol and Daryl as a potential couple.
People are always going to be wondering about Carol and Daryl I think. [laughs] They're also always wondering about Daryl and anybody. If Daryl's in a scene with somebody – male, female or animal – people are very invested in that relationship. That's a really huge testament to the amazing work that Norman does, and the rest of our cast. Those things are just a lot of fun.
Angela Kang is right as rain about that, and Season 9 has been no exception in that respect, either. Following Rick's disappearance and the time jump, Daryl chose to live alone in the woods. Well, alone except for his new pet, a dog named Dog. To be expected, the fanbase went berserk over Daryl being a dog owner, and I wouldn't have been surprised if someone put an amber alert out for Dog whenever he went missing in "The Storm." (Seriously, social media went haywire.)
Beyond his new four-legged friend, Daryl also made a connection with the new-to-the-season character Connie, as played by Lauren Ridloff. After sharing a few early moments together, Daryl and Connie teamed up to track Henry to the Whisperers' camp, and also worked together in fending off the Whisperers during that office building brawl.
Predictably, when fans saw the genuine chemistry that Norman Reedus and Lauren Ridloff shared together, there were instant hopes for Daryl and Connie's emotions and libidos to get the better of them at some point. That outcome didn't go down in the Season 9 finale, with Daryl spending more time at Carol's side, possibly stoking Ezekiel's jealousy. But who's to say Connie won't be tagging along with Daryl and Carol on their adventures in Season 10? Is that a love triangle people are hoping for yet?