[Warning: This story contains spoilers for The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon season finale.] "I'm looking for a friend of mine. Name's Daryl Dixon." So said Carol (Melissa McBride) on Sunday's first season finale of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, titled "Coming Home." Despite its title, the episode ended with Daryl (Norman Reedus) still stranded overseas after delivering Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi) and Isabelle (Clémence Poésy) to The Nest, a sanctuary at the Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. But the episode was a homecoming for McBride, whose season-ending cameo as Carol will be followed by the longtime Walking Dead star rejoining Reedus as a series regular in a second season titled The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon — The Book of Carol.
McBride made a voice cameo in the penultimate episode of the season when Carol communicated with Daryl over long-range radio, reaching him long enough to tell him through static that someone or something "came back." In the flashback sequence, Daryl took a job wrangling walkers to trade them for fuel after his motorcycle broke down outside of Freeport, Maine, and Daryl promised Carol he would return to the Commonwealth in Ohio "in about a week." Daryl never made it home.
That's because Fuller's Auto Repair, where Daryl went missing, hired transients to collect zombie test subjects that Dr. Lafleur (François Delaive) then shipped overseas for experiments he would conduct for Madame Genet (Anne Charrier). Daryl ended up in the brig aboard a French cargo ship and, during a prisoner mutiny, went overboard in the Gulf of Càdiz before he washed ashore in France — thousands of miles away from his rendezvous with Carol.
Daryl Dixon's season finale ended with Carol in hot pursuit of a rider (Paul Zies) racing down the road on Daryl's stolen bike. "I don't want any trouble. I'm looking for a friend of mine. Name's Daryl Dixon. That's his bike you're riding," Carol told the rider, who claimed he "found it."
She then told the rider she "came a long way trying to track him down," and stepped aside to let the shotgun-wielding man rummage through the trunk of her classic Mustang. But Carol had a trick up her sleeve: a concealed socket wrench. Carol knocked the rider unconscious, bound his hands, and stuffed him in the trunk. At gunpoint, Carol forced the rider to confess he traded "some dudes" camped a few miles down the road for the bike.
"If you're lying, I won't be back," said Carol, locking him in the trunk. In the final shot of the season, Carol rode Daryl's bike past a vandalized sign welcoming visitors to Freeport, Maine. "Population: DEAD."
The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon's Carol Cameo Explained by Showrunner
"It was always the hope and the desire that we would get Melissa onto the show in season one, in whatever version she was ready to do. That was always what I wanted to do and what everybody wanted," showrunner David Zabel told ComicBook. "Norman wanted it, Scott [M. Gimple, executive producer] wanted it, we all wanted it. So it was just a matter of working out what the show was going to be and then seeing how we could include her. Because we love the character, and we love Melissa, and we love the dynamic of Daryl and Carol together. So from the point where I started participating on the show, that was always the conversation."
AMC announced an untitled Daryl & Carol Walking Dead spin-off in September 2020, which would follow the 11-season run of The Walking Dead. Then-showrunner Angela Kang and AMC's Walking Dead Universe chief content officer Gimple developed the spin-off, starring Reedus and McBride, as a "road show" set across the southwestern United States. However, in April 2022, McBride dropped out of the spin-off when the series relocated to Europe, which "became logistically untenable for Melissa at this time," according to AMC.
On Daryl & Carol's Change to Daryl Dixon in France
"Unfortunately, I can't talk to the changes too much because I wasn't there for any of that," Zabel said when asked about the original plans for Daryl & Carol. "When I came on, basically they said, 'Hey David, will you come in and tell us a story about Daryl Dixon in France?' And that's where I started. So I wasn't there when they went through some of those conversations about other iterations that the show might have been or was expected to be. So it's a question outside of my wheelhouse in terms of knowing what the details were, and it was a long period of time that they were talking about it, I know, and I think things changed over the course of that period."
Zabel continued, "I just know when I came on, it was like, 'They want you to sit down with Norman and tell him a story about Daryl Dixon in France.' And that's what I did. That was the first thing I did. And then a little bit later, we were all talking about — even though there were circumstances making it a little bit difficult for Melissa — we wanted to see if she would be willing to do some part of the show in season one. And that's when I started talking to Melissa about the radio call in [episode] five and the scene in [episode] six that the audience saw."
Melissa McBride's Next Chapter in The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon — The Book of Carol
Ahead of the first season finale, AMC announced at New York Comic Con that McBride would return as a series regular and executive producer for Daryl Dixon season 2. The network also revealed an official new title: The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon — The Book of Carol. Zabel previously confirmed with ComicBook that the second season of the spin-off, which is set and shot in Europe, will continue filming on October 20th after AMC secured an approved interim agreement with the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) to resume production amid the actors' strike.
Asked about the Daryl-Carol reunion and McBride's role in season 2, Zabel teased that the Carol coda was just the first chapter in her search for Daryl.
"A lot of the details are still being worked out in script and in shooting of what season two will be. You have to tune in and watch season two to see how it develops, but we are not dropping the narrative of her search for Daryl," Zabel said. "All we know right now is that she's searching for Daryl in America. That's what we see in episode six, and we're super committed to her being a big part of the show as much as she's able to and as much as we can. But beyond that, any specifics, you have to wait and see."
McBride said of her return in a statement released by AMC: "I've known there was much more to be told of Carol's story as I felt her so unsettled when we last saw her, as she watched her best friend, Daryl, ride away. Apart or (hopefully!) together, their stories run deep, and I'm so excited to continue Carol's journey here. This team of storytellers have done amazing work to land these two established characters in an entirely new world to them, and I'm loving the discoveries!"
The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon — The Book of Carol is scheduled to premiere in 2024 on AMC and AMC+.