Anyone who’s followed ‘The Walking Dead‘ from season one has been privy to stronger and more capable female characters as the writers realized that not everyone could be manipulative and weak and still carry on the species. Carol, for one, is quickly becoming a fan favorite, and it’s not just because all her femme comrades are succumbing to the zombie invasion.

Check out this deleted scene from last season, before we truly knew the extent of Merle’s loyalty, and bask in the badassery.

From a rising-tension perspective, I’m surprised they opted to have Daryl lurking in the background. It adds a sense of comfort and safety to the situation. Merle could have easily gone from appreciative hostage to wild animal backed into a corner, putting the woman who sprung a threat on him like that “in her place.” But with Daryl there, he probably wasn’t going to try anything, and I think he’d have been smart enough to put the pieces together without the context clues — that Carol was likely imagining making tiny “Little Asskickers” of her own with Daryl sometime soon.

But Carol herself didn’t notice him and was still pretty cavalier about making such a threat and backing it up on her own, and that makes her a Big Asskicker.

‘The Walking Dead’ returns to AMC this fall, and will love be in the air for our remaining survivors? We can only hope.