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The Walking Dead’s Melissa McBride on Carol’s Future and Lack of Sexy Time With Daryl

Is another leading lady leaving The Walking Dead? [Spoilers ahead] In a stunning turn of events at the end of Sunday’s episode, “Indifference,” Carol was made to pay for her crimes. After admitting to Rick that she killed Karen and David in an attempt to prevent the illness from spreading, and later spending a day explaining to him that it’s what had to be done, Rick was ultimately unconvinced that she could be trusted. And so he banished her. The likelihood is that Carol will be back sooner rather than later. Melissa McBride is a series regular, and for what it’s worth, IMDb has her listed as being in future episodes this season. In a conversation with Vulture Monday morning, McBride said that if it's the end, she’s satisfied with her character’s journey. Here, she talks about how Carol’s grown since the death of Sophia, and about why she and Daryl haven’t coupled up:

Hi! I hear you have a packed schedule today.
Kinda.

Are you shooting?
[Laughs]. You think I’m going to answer that? The better question would be: Am I shooting for The Walking Dead?

So is Carol really gone?
Well, you know, it was certainly a possibility when I read the script. Nobody said one way or another what happens after this. That’s kind of the way they roll. If you don’t see them die on camera, there’s a possibility they could come back. Then again, when you do see them die on camera, some of them still come back.

But did anyone talk to you beforehand about what this meant for Carol going forward?
Yeah, certainly, but not in as much detail as the script itself did. I don’t ask a whole lot of questions. If there’s something really, really bothering me about a script then I’ll say something, but otherwise I find my answers in the script. I trust the writing, and the writers to know these characters.

Do you think Carol kind of did this to herself? She told Rick he needs to act like a leader, and then he makes the executive decision to banish her.
I do think she was wanting Rick to snap out of this passive role he’d taken, and in a way, I think it reminded her of her old self. With circumstances so dire, he’s needed more than ever. So, yeah, there’s certainly that aspect.

But is Rick being a hypocrite here? Haven’t they just swapped roles?
Well, she wants to make these points to Rick. She knows they’re out there on a run, and the purpose of that run was more than just getting provisions. So from the get-go, she’s suspicious. Is he taking me out here to kill me? They’re sizing each other up the whole time. But, having said that, I think she is prepared and was prepared at the time she killed Karen and David to face the consequences. She didn’t hesitate to tell Rick she did it once he asked. It’s interesting in that last scene. It was a really nice "touché" moment. She says to him, "I don’t like what I did, but I accept it. I’m not asking you to like it, but accept it." She’s feeling, in a way, this being thrown back at her [when he forces her to leave]. There was this interesting sense of her going, “Okay, touché. I get it. Can’t argue with you there, but … ” Damn. Didn’t see that coming.

They just bonded over tomatoes!
Right. They had this beautiful moment of remembering where they come from, the losses they’ve experienced, each recognizing how difficult this world has been. They’re on equal ground for that moment. In a way, at the end, they’re back on equal ground. They both make decisions by themselves, concerning themselves and the group.

Speaking of the group, why aren’t the kids being taught how to defend themselves? Why is Carol the only one doing that?
Well, everyone is starting to realize that you have to make changes, or change will just happen. Parents had been telling their kids not to talk to strangers, to hold their hands while crossing the street. Things are different now. That change is very hard to deal with. In a way, they’re still mourning what was.

Are you surprised Carol has lasted as long as she has?
On one hand, yes, and I’m so happy to see the writers have taken a chance with her. They’ve certainly found great evolution in this character. But there’s also a part of me that’s not surprised. Think about where she came from. She’s one of the first people you’d think would bite it, and she nearly did on several occasions. For both Rick and Carol, what’s being explored is this thing of how do we come back from the things we have to do?

I’m just saying, it will make me crazy if the show loses another good, complicated female character.
My brain doesn’t think in those terms. It just doesn’t go there. And again, I trust the writers. I trust [showrunner] Scott Gimple. And I have faith in myself. I’ll be okay. This was a great run and a fascinating character.

Let’s say the run is ongoing. Fans are obsessing over whom Daryl should hook up with: Michonne or Carol.  I can’t see either of them making time for romance.
I think having elements of a deep connection, that’s wonderful. I think that if it evolves, that’s also wonderful. But, I don’t know, if it were me, I wouldn’t want to be caught with my pants down [laughs]. You don’t know what’s coming around the corner. You have to run. If it’s just a physical relationship, I guess she’d be like, “Okay, hurry up!”

That’s why Carol and Daryl haven’t gone there yet. They’re too practical.
They’re too smart. And it’s kind of hard to do it with a clunky crossbow strapped behind your back.

Photo: Gene Page/AMC