Welcome back, Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James)! It's been a strange season for two of "The Walking Dead's" most intriguing characters -- in the aftermath of splitting from Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and our favorite survivors before the Season 6 showdown with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Carol and Morgan found a peaceful, if uneasy, life in the Kingdom.
From there, Morgan became a trusted soldier in King Ezekiel's (Khary Payton) court and Carol removed herself from any community, living on the Kingdom's outskirts, content to spend the rest of her life in silence. It was such a severe change from the Carol we'd grown to know and love -- the fearless warrior who protected those she cared for fiercely.
It was a shift in character that almost made sense, though. It could be argued that nobody on "The Walking Dead" has been through more trauma than Carol and it certainly changed her -- or at the very least allowed her to unleash her true self. After so much killing and death though, it seemed her tank was finally empty. It was retirement, in a way.
And while Carol certainly deserves the peace that comes with removing herself from a community, it was hard to watch as fans. For so long, she's been one of the strongest -- if not the strongest -- piece of "The Walking Dead's" puzzle, with McBride taking the character leaps and bounds beyond Carol's early demise in the comic books. Now, when things are their most dire, viewers were being robbed of that side of Carol.
Now that she knows the truth about Negan and those he killed, though? Watch out, world. Carol is back and she's ready to go to war on behalf of the Kingdom. Watching her stroll up to Ezekiel with bags full of what we can only assume are guns, it's clear this will be a return to form for the character. It also makes us wonder if she could have ever actually been content living a peaceful life. After all of this time, is killing what she views as a normal, livable life?
Likewise, Morgan is headed down a much darker path than we've seen of late. After the death of Benjamin (Logan Miller), he flashed back to losing his own son. In doing so, the calm demeanor Morgan adopted during his time with (John Carroll Lynch) was completely lost. It was a return of not only his rage but the insanity that drove him after his son's death.
Morgan seemed to regain his senses but he was definitely changed -- and last seen sharpening the end of his trusty stick to a fine point, which will no doubt make it an even more fierce weapon. He's seemingly left the Kingdom behind, which makes us wonder whether he's gearing up for war or simply preparing to disappear again.
That makes Morgan an unknown for the rest of the season -- which is how we like him best. Above all, he's one of the good guys and when the time comes there's no doubt he'll bring the fight to Negan. Until then, though, he's a wildcard.
With the war against Negan getting closer, the lines in the sand are being drawn, sides being taken. While it's good that Rick is working out a deal with the Scavengers and there's the possibility of the Oceanside community joining the fight, Carol and Morgan coming back into play is truly the most exciting development of the latter half of Season 7. Hopefully the show will take advantage of that -- and give them prominent roles in the confrontation to come.
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC. The Season 7 finale airs April 2.