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Spoilers for The Walking Dead are below.
Here in Season 6 of The Walking Dead, the TV show is finally catching up to the golden age of Robert Kirkman’s comic book source material, as the arrival of Negan will change the very fabric of this zombie drama. To be expected, not everything we see will be a direct representation of what happened on the page, but Carol’s current state of repentance and angst has us worried that the series will bring to audiences a comic moment that should never be seen in live-action: Carol’s suicide.
This season, Carol started out looking like she was going to complete her ascent to the top of Survivor Mountain with ease, donning disguises and killing Wolves willy nilly, as well as taking care of anything that needed to be done. (And do I even need to bring up the legit superiority earned with the ability to bake cookies from limited ingredients in the post-apocalypse?) But along came Morgan and his precious-life philosophy, which initially made Carol hotheaded enough to see red with Morgan’s blood. In putting her own kill-or-be-killed lifestyle under the microscope, though, she didn’t like what she saw. Sure, she still did what had to be done, but each new addition to her Kill List was a mental blow that forced her to leave the relative safety of Alexandria behind.
So yes, Carol is feeling depressed and incapable of going on in the same way that she’s been living, which are certainly bad signs. And even though a life of seclusion could possibly help ease her guilt-sopped regrets, I can’t imagine that losing all of her close friends and confidantes will work in her emotional state’s favor. Plus, there would be no one around here to stop her from possibly harming herself if that’s how she wanted to react to the myriad traumas in her life. This show can’t let her go out like that. This show can’t let her go out at all.
In any case, it’s this current state of events that hearkens back to the Carol of the comics, which is quite the rare event given how different their narrative paths were laid out. On the page, Carol never evolved past the dependent and mild-manned persona that Melissa McBride first gave viewers in Season 1. Even though Sophia didn’t die in that universe, Carol is still very mentally unstable and always seeking the company of others. When her relationship with Tyreese went south due to his infidelity, she cut her wrist as her daughter watched. And then after her strange attempts to become a romantic third wheel for Rick and Lori are rejected, she has sex one last time and then walks her final steps up to a walker, befriends it and lets it bite her, which she enjoys. One collapse and a bullet to the head later, and no more Carol.
Now, obviously most of that arc won’t and can’t happen in the AMC series, since a lot of the people in that scenario are dead. But there is still the chance that Kirkman and showrunner Scott Gimple will pull this long gone death from the back issue annals to give viewers a shock so conceptually disgusting that nothing within the visible spectrum could comfortably absorb my glare right now. I’m not sure what Carol’s preferred method of self-execution would be, although Deanna’s death this season might be a little too close for the suicide-by-walker moment to play out exactly. I shouldn’t even be considering variations, since the show definitely isn’t going to make Carol get so empty inside that she seals her own fate.
We did already get one big comic death switched up recently for the sake of keeping a more important character around. And while we don’t know for sure how Negan’s big moment is going to go, it seems likely that it will also head in a different direction from how it originally went down. Which means that somebody soon probably will die in a way that’s very close to how the comic made it happen. It can’t be Carol, though. There are several other people who can deservedly fill that slot instead.
Next week, we’ll see characters searching for Carol high and low, and I can’t imagine that this manhunt would end in a cloned version of Sophia’s return, with a zombified Carol slowly shambling out in front of the rest. Carol doesn’t have to have a perfect existence from here on out or anything, but as long as she’s still having that non-perfect existence right on through the final episodes of the series, then I (and millions of others) won’t feel the need to turn every room into the Kill Room.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC.