The Walking Dead

Walking Dead’s Final Season Pays Off Carol’s Oldest Storyline

Carol Peletier has evolved beyond recognition since The Walking Dead season 1. Her final season storyline now revisits those abusive origins.

The Walking Dead season 11 features a poignantly subtle callback to Carol’s troubling past, highlighting how far the zombie apocalypse veteran has come since her 2010 debut. Few characters in The Walking Dead have evolved quite like Carol Peletier. From the archetypal, demure suburban housewife, Carol is now a one-woman death machine – AMC’s answer to Rambo, if Rambo had a maternal streak and baked cookies. Melissa McBride has steered Carol through the loss of several children, murdering another, fiery prison executions, a moral crisis, a failed royal marriage, and an especially bothersome soup. Now, however, Carol finds herself back in civilized society as part of the Commonwealth.

Never dropping her strategic mindset, Carol has wisely earned her way into Lance Hornsby’s favor. By sourcing a fancy bottle of red wine, she now holds the ear of Pamela Milton’s second-in-command, and Lance has returned the compliment by recognizing Carol’s potential value to the Commonwealth. In The Walking Dead season 11’s “Rogue Element,” Lance even brings his newest friend on an excursion to a satellite community that produces opium for the Commonwealth’s medical needs. Run by a man called Moto, the farm is refusing to work unless the Commonwealth stumps up a higher payment. Lance negotiates a new price and prepares to depart, but that’s when Carol’s past comes into play.

Unlike Lance, Carol notices the smaller details in Moto’s community. Specifically, she clocks a worker sheepishly nursing cloth wrapped around her wrist. Carol correctly deduces Moto is actually abusing his workers and pocketing the Commonwealth’s extra pay for himself – exploitative capitalism alive and well, even in the zombie apocalypse. Upon Carol’s recommendation, Lance has Moto arrested by Commonwealth soldiers, and the farm is liberated from its abusive leader – but Carol may never have noticed these warning signs were she not a survivor of domestic violence.

Melissa McBride as Ca

When Carol Peletier first appeared in The Walking Dead season 1, she traveled with husband, Ed, and daughter, Sophia. Ed made absolutely no attempt to hide his abusive nature upon joining Rick Grimes’ group, openly striking his wife for everyone to see and earning a savage beating from Shane as a result. Ed’s abuse began years before The Walking Dead’s zombie outbreak, and Carol’s growth across the past 11 seasons has gradually moved her from a place of victimization to a place of strength. While enduring through Ed’s physical violence, Carol likely would’ve found herself using clothes to hide injuries and bruises from loved ones. This explains why she notices Moto’s farm workers doing the same, with those pre-apocalypse experiences allowing Carol to pick up signs of abuse that Lance doesn’t see.

Despite having little bearing on the overall plot, the “Rogue Element” opium farm sequence makes a worthy addition to Carol’s final arc as The Walking Dead season 11 plows forward. The treatment Ed subjected his wife to was inhumane and horrific, and Carol overcoming that traumatic past is testament to her inner strength. Drawing upon her experience of abuse to protect others from similar hardship brings Carol’s The Walking Dead journey to an emotive full circle, and that she should be the one who projects the opium farmers from Moto’s cruel hand carries a special resonance that you wouldn’t get if Daryl, Eugene, or Lance himself had made the same deduction.

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