the walking dead, season 6, daryl, norman reedus, east, TWD, 615, recapI must have rewound the ending of tonight's episode of "The Walking Dead" at least five times, but I'm still no closer to figuring out exactly what happened, something I'm sure was intentional. This series loves itself some confusing cliffhangers, and after the debacle that was the Glenn death fakeout, the showrunners are probably relishing the fact that viewers can't ever really trust what they see (or in this case, barely see) onscreen until it's spelled out later in suspension of disbelief-challenging detail.

Here's what appeared to happen: Dwight shot Daryl at point blank range, and most likely killed him, with that blood spatter on the camera lens serving as a gory exclamation point to the shocking scene. Of course, said spatter – and the wonky camera angle – also concealed exactly where on his body Daryl was shot, suggesting that perhaps he was merely wounded (say, shot in the shoulder, like he was back in episode six). Dwight's looming voice assured Daryl (and viewers), "Don't worry, you'll be alright," as the frame faded to black, though I'm not sure he's correct.

That's what's become of "The Walking Dead": The show is now simply a series of scenes that can be interpreted in a million different ways, intentionally ambiguous to the point of being ridiculous. Did Daryl die? Did Daryl live? Who knows? We're not likely to get any real answer to that question in next week's season finale; if we do, it can't possibly be a satisfying one. Clearly, I still have some residual anger leftover from the whole Glenn situation, but that brings up another point: If everyone is expendable, and yet everything we see is up for interpretation, how can a shocking development ever truly be shocking? The next time Glenn faces a life or death scenario, conventional wisdom says he'll live, since he's improbably done so before. The same goes for Daryl, who's escaped more close scrapes than should be humanly possible (the aforementioned gunshot – from which he miraculously immediately recovered – and the stab wound he suffered in the midseason premiere come to mind). Who's to say he didn't dodge Dwight's barrel at the last second, sending someone else's blood flying? I can't, and while some may argue that keeping fans guessing – and interested – is a sign of a quality program, my interest – and patience – is rapidly waning as I'm put through the emotional wringer yet again for seemingly no reason.

I have the same issue with Carol's storyline, which continues to confound me. This week's episode depicts her preparing to leave Alexandria, packing up survival supplies and patching up her jacket. But it turns out that she's actually sewing a secret compartment into the sleeve, concealing a gun, which she later uses to mow down a group of Saviors that attacks her on the road. So, she does exactly what she pledged not to do (kill), and furthermore, she knew she'd have to do it, preparing the gun just in case. So, again, why did she need to leave Alexandria? If she believes that killing is necessary, doesn't want to do it for her friends' sake, and yet turns around and immediately does it anyway, then doesn't that completely negate her reasoning for going solo in the first place? She did seem conflicted about it, pulling the same hyperventilating routine that she used on Paula's crew, and weeping as the Saviors' bodies fall and the smoke clears. But if she was truly committed to this revised worldview, maybe she just should have let them kill her instead.

I've heard an interesting theory that this entire crisis of faith thing is nothing more than an elaborate act on Carol's part, and that she actually left Alexandria to hunt down the rest of the Saviors herself. (Is that what Nancy from Montclair would do?) Considering she used the same move on yet another group of Saviors, and then tricked/killed them, too (and all while clutching that rosary), it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility. I'm not sure what's real and what's an act with her anymore, but I don't find that ambiguity intriguing; I just find it annoying.

In an argument with Rick about people's potential to change, Morgan brings up the moment in season four when Rick discovers that Carol is the one who killed the disease-ridden Karen and David, in an effort to curb the sickness from spreading throughout the prison. Rather than sentence Carol to death, Rick sent her to live in exile; later, she was able to return and save Rick's crew from the cannibals at Terminus, proving that "people can come back" if you give them the opportunity to change. Unfortunately, Morgan seems to have forgotten that Carol saving our core survivors at Terminus meant killing a bunch of other people, a big flaw in his logic that Rick either doesn't realize, or simply doesn't point out because he'd stopped listening after Morgan said "all life is precious" for the umpteenth time. That Rick later seems swayed by Morgan's argument, after Morgan reveals the chain of events surrounding his captured Wolf's change of heart (with the Wolf saving Denise, so she could save Carl), is ridiculous, but no more so than hearing "Everything gets a return" again. (Stop trying to make that phrase happen, Morgan. It's not going to happen.)

All this circularity (Morgan's favorite topic) seems to be pointing toward Morgan himself eventually having to kill someone, most likely a Savior, in an effort to save Carol. He hesitates and initially declines when Rick offers him the handgun, but he does take it. Earlier, he wonders aloud why Carol said she couldn't kill, and yet still laid waste to four Saviors (you and me both, dude). "She could, because she had to," Rick retorts. "Sometimes, you have to." I'd imagine that all this is leading up to a Big Moment for Morgan, in which he either takes a life or loses his own. (Not that I would really miss him, honestly. The series has obviously run out of story for him, and Lennie James probably has better things to do with his talents than wave around a stick and talk about circles.)

Setting aside what may or may not have happened to Daryl (and seriously, it would be a real shame if that's the way showrunners decided to kill him off after all this time, which is why I suspect it's another ruse), there are quite a few other people who could potentially be on the chopping block, too, including Glenn and Michonne, who have been captured by the Saviors. This, after both of them are allowed some intimate, blissful screentime with their respective significant others, a sure sign that everything is about to go terribly wrong. Maggie and Glenn's sexy shower scene felt especially earned, since they haven't had many moments together this season, let alone happy ones. Of course, the bubble bursts when Glenn notices significant bruises covering Maggie's torso, the result of her rough run-in with Paula's crew (and perhaps a sign that she sustained a more significant injury than initially indicated after she took a knife to the gut). Toward the end of the hour, after Maggie asks Enid to give her a haircut (her cryptic reasoning for the change: "I have to keep going. And I don't want anything getting in my way"), she experiences excruciating pain, clutching her stomach, screaming, and doubling over. It appears she may be having a miscarriage, or perhaps suffering from some internal bleeding; whatever's happening, it's not good, and will no doubt lead to even more sorrow down the road.

There were similar sinister undertones during Rick and Michonne's bedroom scene, with the co-constable's cocky declaration that everything would be fine should they encounter the Saviors again. "When they come for us, we'll end it," he promises. "The world's ours. And we know how to take it." I get the sinking feeling that that prediction will prove patently false. As Glenn points out later in the hour, the world is much bigger than they initially thought, as the discovery of the Hilltoppers and the Saviors has proven. And the Saviors already know a lot more about the Alexandrians than the Alexandrians know about them, immediately guessing that Carol came from their ranks because they recognized the spiked car from outside the settlement's gates. However many of them there are, their membership is sprawling enough to surround Alexandria in every direction, and just wait for one of Rick's people to walk into a trap. That that happened to so many of our survivors tonight only reinforces how stupid it is to send multiple people out on search and rescue missions that only require one or two bodies at most. And it certainly suggests that the Saviors are going to win this particular battle in what promises to be a brutal war.

Other thoughts:

- I was disappointed that the show didn't go for the obvious religious reference on this Easter Sunday and center a storyline around Jesus, though Michonne did make a throwaway reference to Jesus really coming through for them. I think many Catholics would agree.

- That Rick and Michonne scene really played up the characters' chemistry, and I loved how comfortable and natural they looked together. I found the whole apple thing pretty odd (who eats fresh fruit first thing in the morning, while still lying down in bed?), but I did enjoy that Rick's declaration, "This is good," could apply to both the snack and their relationship. Of course, now that I'm completely invested in their coupling, one of them is totally going to die, aren't they?

- Speaking of all the hooking up happening in Alexandria, Rick and Abe share a moment near episode's end where they both admit they're afraid of opening themselves up to a new relationship, and the vulnerability that that requires. "But now, I think I'm that much more ready to tear the world a brand new a—hole," Abe says. I repeat: Someone is totally going to die.

- This week in excellent music cues: Johnny Cash tune "It's All Over" soundtracks Carol's exit from Alexandria, as well as a montage of the rest of the settlement going about their daily business. During that scene, we see Carl examine a curious carving on the butt of a handgun stolen from the Saviors, a nod to things to come next week.

- My question from last week about the weapons being wheeled out to the front gate has been answered: Maggie is stockpiling barrels full of guns and ammo so that they'll be at the ready at the guard posts, should the Saviors come calling.

- Daryl leaves the compound because he wants to track down Dwight, in an effort to absolve himself of his role in Denise's death. Daryl insists that he should have killed Dwight back in the burned-out forest, and because he didn't, Dwight was still alive to kill the doctor. I appreciated that this served as a direct argument against Morgan's belief that saving a life is always the preferred choice.

- I really enjoyed Rick's obvious awe over Carol's ass-kicking abilities. "That woman, she's a force of nature," he marvels. Agreed. Now if only she'd remember that about herself.

- One of the Saviors that Carol shot (but did not kill) is wearing some sleek black boots, which we've seen before: on the man searching the forest for Dwight and Honey back in episode six. Black Boot Guy follows Rick and Morgan into the field, clutching Carol's rosary, and he looks pissed. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of him.

- That field – complete with its rustic barn and bucolic surroundings – is just screaming to be the setting for a shabby-chic hipster wedding, right?

- Near the barn, Rick and Morgan see a man – clad in what appears to be body armor – fighting with some walkers. They're wary of each other, and as Rick demands to know who he is, the man flees. Rick aims to shoot him, but Morgan knocks Rick's arm, causing the constable to miss. Dude, you may not want to kill anyone, but Rick has no problem doing so – and the next time you touch him while he's firing his weapon, you might wind up as his next target.

- I enjoyed the odd encounter with the aforementioned mystery man, who explains himself thusly: "I'm just looking for my horse. Have you seen him?" (That phrasing reminded me of a verse from a certain Kanye West classic.)

- Glenn and Michonne, on their way back to Alexandria, are suddenly surrounded by Saviors, tipped off by some coordinated whistling echoing through the trees. Sadly, it's not Katniss Everdeen, but Dwight and co. God, can you imagine how much better this show would be if Jennifer Lawrence was on it?

- Next week is the season finale, and honestly, I'm relieved; I could use a break from all this misery. AMC isn't providing screeners, so my recap probably won't be up until the wee hours of the following morning. This bleary-eyed writer will see you then.

Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC