When Daryl found Carol, she was starving, weak, and barely alive. When we next see her, in this scene, she is strong enough to stand, interact with the group, and grasp what had happened in her absence. And we know the others were distracted with other matters and were all equally surprised to see her alive, so it stands to reason that Daryl nursed her back to a stable level of health in those hours after he found her. This is what happened, and no one can tell me otherwise.
Of course Carol was happy to be reunited with the others and be alive and safe again, and can we also note Daryl’s smile back there? A lot of his personal demons were banished by his finding Carol alive and unhurt. That was final closure on Sophia, that was his redemption: saving Carol after not being able to save so many others.
Instead of seeing heartbreak and disappointment on the others’ faces, this time Daryl got to see them smile with relief and joy. He was proud in that moment: proud of himself for doing something right, proud of Carol for surviving, and just happy that she was okay. You can hear it in his voice when he explained where/how he found her: I found her. She’s alive. She’s so scrappy and a survivor. Look. Look at how awesome she is.
And Carol quickly put together the clues: there’s a baby, there’s no Lori. That entire scene, with no words, was just beautiful. And, on a non-Caryl note, I want to point out how lovely the interaction between Carol and Rick was. We know from season two that Carol wasn’t a big fan of Rick’s and she didn’t have much confidence in his leadership. It’s nice to see multiple dimensions of a relationship like that. Just like family, you can disagree and be angry with them, but you still love ‘em.
This was the episode where Carol truly came back from the dead, and it was a bright and joyous moment in an otherwise uneasy and unsettling episode.