4) The Return of Carol

Lost in the chaos of last night’s episode was the fact that Rick and Daryl never got to tell Tyrese that Carol had admitted to killing Karen and David. That’s relevant as the group scatters away from the rubble of their latest fallen outpost, and it might offer a chance to bring back Carol, since her misdeeds may be less intolerable now that the walls have fallen.

Without the prison and Hershel, there is really no easy way for Rick and the other’s to cling to civilization while outside of it. They are – at least for a time – likely headed back out into the wild, and that means that Carol’s decision to preemptively kill two sick group members in an effort to avert an outbreak may be less abhorrent to some, paving the way for her uneasy return.

Would Rick accept her? He’s likely going to be a man in transition (again), so it’s possible, but could Tyrese if he knew what she had done? That kind of conflict could make the idea of Carol encountering Tyrese, Mika, and Lizzie on the road seem like a decent path to embark on, especially if they bond through the struggle to keep Mika and Lizzie safe, only to be torn apart by Carol’s secret.

5) The Road to Somewhere or Nowhere

Eventually, they will find new people (like Abraham), a new direction, and something to believe in. Perhaps, Scott Gimple has something entirely new up his sleeve, or perhaps they will follow the comic and head toward Washington D.C. and the Alexandria safe zone.

Make no mistake, the group will try to re-build, because that is what they do, but what if they don’t? What if the show fully embraces the wild and takes the long way to their next destination, allowing the writers to move the show in some interesting and horrifying directions.

Leap frogging to the next big destination or the next big bad (Nagan?) at this vital point simply wreaks of stagnation and should be avoided.

What lives beyond the fence and “out there” fuels so much of the drama on The Walking Dead, as does man’s potential to mutate into a metaphorical monster.

These threats have been controlled, throughout, though. The Governor – fierce as he was – was domesticated and the fences and the walls of the prison gave people a sense of security and a chance to, at least, bottleneck the terror.

No matter how Rick recovers, no matter if Carol returns, this group (or these groups) need to be out there to avoid being trapped inside the same narrative prison once more. It’s time to put the survivors on the other side of the fence. It’s time to show them the real monsters for awhile before giving them room to breathe again.

The Walking Dead Season 4, Part 2 premieres February 9, 2014  on AMC.

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