(WARNING: The Walking Dead spoilers will be found below.)
Along with grown-up Judith Grimes, Lauren Ridloff’s Connie is probably the most popular new character on the post Rick Grimes The Walking Dead. The Tony nominated actress who — like her character — is deaf, quickly endeared herself to us when Connie not only forged a bond with Daryl, but proved herself to be arguably the most compassionate character on the series since early-season Glenn Rhee. Daryl developed such a crush on her, in fact, that he’s been teaching himself sign language so that he can communicate with her more easily.
Meanwhile, since her Tony nomination and her work on The Walking Dead, Ridloff herself has become a more in-demand actress. In fact, she was offered a role in the an MCU movie, The Eternals, alongside the likes of Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, and Kumail Nanjiani. When that role came along for Ridloff, The Walking Dead basically had two choices: Kill off Connie, or figure out how to keep her on the show without actually featuring her in the series for awhile. Thus was conceived the cave storyline, which does three things for the back half of season 10: It extends the Whisperer War, it helps further develop the relationship between Carol and Daryl … and it gives Lauren Ridloff some much-needed time off to film The Eternals.
Was that the real reason Ridloff got fridged in the cave?
“Yeah, there is some aspect of that that is true,” Angela Kang told Entertainment Weekly. “But I think for the story, it’s actually worked out really beautifully. So I think there’s some really interesting stuff that came out of it for both Carol and Daryl, and she’s a character that I think is leading with emotion for both of them. So sometimes those things that you have to do to help out a beloved actor also work out in your favor.”
One aspect of that arrangement that is not mentioned is how viewers are going to react when Daryl rescues Connie from the cave and maybe the two end up making out. Daryl and Connie shippers are going to flip, and so are Daryl and Carol shippers, but for the opposite reason. That said, I would not imagine the writing staff would come up with a storyline to give Lauren Ridloff only an episode or two off, so I don’t anticipate that reunion arriving until late in the season. In the meantime, we’ll just have to see if Carol can repair her friendship with Daryl before Connie is (presumably) saved.