[SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information on Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead, so read on only if you have already watched the episode]
It’s been a bolder Carol this season on The Walking Dead. But that boldness may have done her in after Rick — reacting to the news that Carol had killed Tyreese’s girlfriend Karen and another guy named David in the hopes of stopping the killer virus from spreading — told her she was no longer welcome at the prison and abandoned her on the side of the road, alone with a car full of supplies. We chatted with the woman who plays Carol, Melissa McBride, to get her take on the controversial decision. How did she react when she heard the news? What does she think about Carol not being able to say goodbye to Daryl? And will we ever see her character again? Read on for answers!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, so that happened.
MELISSA McBRIDE: Well, what did you think?
EW: What did I think? I’m going to tell you what I thought. I am totally Team Carol on this one. She’s making the hard decisions that Rick no longer wants to make. So I really don’t have a problem with what she did and think Rick was way too harsh in leaving her out there alone. But where do you stand, Melissa? Was Carol an asset or a liability to the group?
McBRIDE: On one hand I can understand Rick’s point of view. And certainly I can understand Carol’s point of view because I know her. And I know her heart. It’s an interesting divide and it’s an interesting divide among The Walking Dead fans too. That’s what I love about the show.
EW: Would you have kicked Carol out of the group?
McBRIDE: No, I don’t think I would have. I would have kept it cool on the ride back and maybe I would have put her in a cell until everybody got back and let’s discuss what’s just happened here.
EW: We saw her last week risking her life for the group, and npw she’s fixing dislocated shoulders? Why would you not want that person on your team? She’s doing it all!
McBRIDE: There’s many things about Carol now that proves to be an asset to the group, certainly. But as far as Rick is concerned she is a threat. She is unpredictable, and making these unilateral decisions, and why is she doing this? He can’t quite make out the psyche going on there.
EW: You said the reaction to Rick abandoning her has been mixed. For me this was a bad move by Rick, but you’re seeing both sides of it out there.
McBRIDE: I am. I’m seeing a lot of divisiveness and like I said there are people that can understand Rick’s point of view for saying that he is protecting her again. It’s Sheriff Rick being very methodical about his decision. And, in a way, maybe protecting Carol from the consequences of her actions as far as Tyreese is concerned. He does not want to create a big divide among the group. And on the other hand, you have people that think he’s overreacting and to leave this woman old cold on the road is not fair.
EW: Especially when you look at everything that has already happened to her.
McBRIDE: And they are making great arguments for each. Again, this is what is so masterful about the writing, is that we’re seeing two people making similar decisions in a similar way: Rick making this decision on his own to leave her there; Carol having made that decision to put down Karen and David on her own. And each one thinks that they’ve made the right decision at the time. And in a way, each is right. And in a way, each is wrong.
EW: When we spoke last week you talked about how showrunner Scott Gimple had provided you with an outline before the season began in terms of what Carol’s arc was going to be this season. Was her being abandoned by Rick out in the middle of nowhere part of that outline or did you learn that later?
McBRIDE: I learned that as we went along. I love the way they go about this with us as far as the scripts and when they come and how much we know when. I particularly like the way we don’t know everything up front. But the writing is so good they’re not pulling stuff that is completely out of character for these people. It makes sense for who they are. It makes sense for the circumstances they’re going to find themselves in as we get further and further into the season.
EW: Well, what was your reaction when you found out that this was going to happen?
McBRIDE: It’s one thing when they tell you sort of what’s going to happen. It’s one thing to hear it in a general sense. It’s another thing for me to read it when I get the actual script. And reading that last page floored me as much as it floored Carol. In fact, Carol handled it much better than I did for me. I thought she was a champ. And I was like, ‘What?!?!?’
EW: I was going to ask you about that. Tell me about how you and Andrew Lincoln played those final scenes in terms of how much emotion to put out there in these final moments they have together. Because I, like you, was surprised at how well she kept it together. She tried her best to get him to change his mind, saw that wasn’t going to happen, and came to accept her fate
McBRIDE: Yeah, she’s accepting her fate. And what’s interesting too is that I remember at the time shooting that standing there with Rick and looking at him and watching him and absorbing these things that he was telling her and I felt this really weird little bit of respect come creeping in for him. Like two equals. I understand where you’re coming from, okay? And to me, that was a weird kind of beautiful thing that I witnessed. I love it when these things crop up during a scene.
EW: She didn’t even get to say goodbye to Daryl! The fans are not going to like that at all.
McBRIDE: She didn’t get to say goodbye to him. She didn’t get to say goodbye to anybody. This is great stuff to me. This is important stuff. Devastating stuff. This world that they’re living in is so mean.
EW: So, of course the big question is: Will we see Carol again?
McBRIDE: I can’t say for sure one way or the other. I hope we do. I hope that’s not the last of her, but you know the way this show is. I don’t know. It’s unpredictable. The show is unpredictable. And we always think, well, if we don’t see them die on camera, there’s always a possibility. And then we do see them die on camera and sometimes they still come back, so who knows?
EW: You guys have the death dinners whenever somebody is killed off and the whole cast takes the actor whose character was just killed out for dinner and drinks. How does this work with you being abandoned but not killed off? Did you at least get a dessert or a Shirley Temple out of it?
McBRIDE: [Laughing] Those death dinners are confidential, and I won’t be discussing that! And you can quote me on that.
EW: This has been such a great arc for this character and it must have been nice to have this juicy material for you to play and to be such a strong — in some senses too strong, perhaps — female character on this show.
McBRIDE: It has been amazing to play this character. She just started out complicated and it’s gotten more complicated. But there’s so much evolution and so much change just dictated by the world that they’re in. Yes, she has been an actor’s dream for me.
To listen to our Entertainment Weekly Radio interview with Melissa McBride about Carol and season 4 of ‘The Walking Dead’, click on the audio player below. And for more ‘Walking Dead’ news and views, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.