As with any long-running TV series, the characters that have somehow managed to survive multiple seasons on The Walking Dead are in many ways not the same people they were when their journey through the zombie apocalypse began. Formerly steadfast leader Rick Grimes has repeatedly found himself on the edge of all-out insanity, and has occasionally been temporarily pushed over it. Daryl Dixon has matured from a little brother always eager to look manly in the eyes of his older sibling into perhaps the most reliable combat asset in the entire group. Badass swordswoman Michionne has even gone from an emotionally cold outsider into an almost surrogate wife and mother figure to Rick and his son Carl.
That said, arguably no character has gone through bigger changes over the course of The Walking Dead's time on the air than Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride). Carol began the series as a meek, regularly battered wife, who seemingly saw no purpose for herself beyond tending to the needs of her abusive husband and young daughter. After losing both - the latter in a particularly soul-crushing fashion - Carol adapted to the harsh new world she now inhabited, becoming a pragmatist above all else and often taking difficult but necessary actions that nobody else could bring themselves to do.
Of course, that suddenly changed during The Walking Dead season 6, which saw Carol descend into the depths of a personal crisis. Tired of both losing people she cared about to senseless violence and the heinous acts she herself routinely had to commit in order to protect those same loved ones, Carol found herself ready to leave the group behind and spend the rest of her days free of human companionship. Without attachments, Carol reasoned that she could free herself of all the grief and suffering that so often went along with investing herself in the life and well being of another. As seen in the last few episodes of season 6, escaping from her past regrets proved to not be as easy as she had anticipated, to put things mildly.
"This is a different season. She's definitely got some healing to do in her mind and where she wants to be on this earth, or she wants to stick around or what. As the world is expanding, it's still closing in at the same time in a very weird way, but who knows. I think she's just got to get her mind right before she can even entertain any sort of relationship. I think it's just difficult for her to have a relationship of any kind. Where we left off, if you care for somebody, you're going to have to kill for them, and again, she's just not sure she's in that place."
It would seem that anyone still hoping that Carol might suddenly snap out of her mental breakdown and return to being a ruthless defender of those she loves should probably stop holding their breath, as according to McBride, Carol is nowhere near ready to go back to her old life as season 7 begins. However, one feels about the changes to her character in season 6, it's hard to argue that they don't make sense.
Carol had racked up one of the highest human body counts of any member of Rick's group since turning into almost a female version of Rambo a few seasons back. No matter how tough one is, taking that many lives is going to effect one's psyche, and not in a good way. It was really only a matter of time before she cracked under the weight of all the blood she had spilled.
Even Rick broke mentally, and he was already a police officer prior to the outbreak, presumably trained in ways to not break under intense pressure. Carol was a stay at home mom. Nothing in her life had prepared her for the stress of becoming a killer. If nothing else though, at least her sojourn away from the group inadvertently spared her from being the one to meet their demise at the business end of Lucille in The Walking Dead's season 7 premiere.
The Walking Dead season 7 premieres October 23 on AMC.
Source: Comic Book