Dammit Talking Dead! Every week, without fail, just as I've finally recovered from whatever awful things happened during The Walking Dead , the sneak peek at the next episode gets me stressed out all over again. This time, the preview for "Consumed" showed Daryl and Carol burning a body wrapped in a sheet, pretty somberly. As Daryl put the body into the fire, Carol quietly said, "thank you." The emotion packed into the brief scene makes it pretty clear that whoever's body that is, it's someone Daryl and Carol care about. Update: Now that the episode has aired, it appears that Daryl is burning the bodies of child walkers to save Carol from having to do the necessary deed. She's naturally pretty sensitive after what happened with Mika and Lizzie.
Earlier: Based on what's happened in this season so far, and what we know about Daryl and Carol's current whereabouts, I think the body can only belong to one of two people: Beth or Noah. First of all, the body in the sheet was pretty small, making Beth the even more likely victim. However since we don't yet know how Noah will figure into this season's plot, he could also find and bond with Daryl and Carol before dying. Obviously, both of these are horrible possibilities.
Beth has grown as a character a lot in the past few seasons, and her death would affect many others. Daryl has grown particularly close with her, after the two escaped the prison together, and of course Maggie would be devastated to learn that her sister was so close to reuniting with the group only to be killed before they could see each other again. And though we've only just met Noah, he made a great impression during his episode, and I'm sure I'm not the only Walking Dead fan who's rooting for his survival following his escape from Dawn Lerners' hospital from hell.
While the timelines are confusing, it seems that at some point, Daryl and Carol will go to Atlanta together, burn someone's body, and eventually, Carol will end up in the hospital with Beth. Until I saw this preview, my theory was that Carol and Daryl would find Noah, tell him they were looking for Beth, and Noah would tell them about the hospital. I thought Carol would somehow injure herself or fake an injury to infiltrate the hospital so that she, Daryl, and Noah could save Beth. Daryl would reunite with Beth, Noah would make up for leaving her behind, and they'd all be one big happy family.
I think my prediction may still be right, but at some point either Beth or Noah dies. Since Daryl didn't seem too emotional, it could be Noah. Maybe they were planning on just attacking the hospital, but Noah is killed before the attempt, forcing Daryl and Carol to change their plan and send Carol inside.
Maybe I'm completely wrong, and the body they're burning belongs to someone new Daryl and Carol briefly encounter but form a quick bond with, or reminds them of someone they care about. I hope that's what it is, because Beth deserves a triumphant escape from the hospital, and Noah deserves a much longer stay on The Walking Dead.
Image: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC