The Season 5 premiere sealed it: The Walking Dead's Carol Peletier is primetime's reigning action heroine.
"She's doing these extraordinary things that two years ago… she never would have fathomed she would be running around in a blanket full of guts, blowing things up," actress Melissa McBride tells Yahoo TV about her character, Carol. "I love her. I'm so endeared by her.
"I was elated that the writers came up with this particular story for her, this role for her to play. I was so proud of her, creating that wonderful diversion. And I loved it that she was going to take it on at any cost, to try it, regardless of the consequences. She could be killed, she could be mistaken for a walker. Anything could've happened, but she was going to try, and I loved that."
Carol's badasseryis going to be called on again and again this season, be it running off with Daryl to find Beth, as we saw her doing at the end of Episode 2, or helping her friends understand, as she puts it, that they can't rely on luck to see them through their ever-more-dangerous world. McBride talked to Yahoo TV about why she gets so emotional about her character, why Carol is having a hard time reconnecting with her friends, and a cryptic preview of what's ahead for Carol the rest of Season 5.
Before we jump into Season 5, when you were asked about Carol at New York Comic Con a couple of weeks ago, you became very emotional about her. What sparked that?
I get emotional when I think of her… just how far she's come. I love the strength that she's able to experience now within herself. My heart just goes out to anyone who has to struggle against anything like that. You think, "It's never going to end. I can't find the strength within myself to do what I know I need to be doing." It's such an internal conflict, and my heart goes out to anyone who has done what they needed to do to overcome that situation. Carol represents to me so many people who I know in my life who are still here, maybe still struggling, or who are not here anymore. [Carol] is definitely a hero to me and a hero to a lot of people who identify with her story so far. That makes me truly, genuinely, very happy.
Did saving her friends at Terminus feel redemptive for Carol? Not that she's done anything wrong, but here was a chance for her to do something extraordinary, where the results would possibly be saving lives, not having to kill someone.
I think she would've made those decisions regardless. She is accountable to herself for having made those decisions, and she feels horrible about what she's had to do, but she understands it was necessary. So I think maybe it felt not so much redemptive, but the whole purpose of her going forward is because she loves the family. Regardless of Rick throwing her out, she understood something about him. There is a bond and love between these survivors. This is all the family that they have, and it was her mission to reunite Judith with her father. She took a big chance going to Terminus. Again, just got lucky. She had one chance to get that firework into the fumes of that tank. Luck. Obviously, there's something going on with her, as we see in the second episode. But I don't think redemption was what she was after.
Does she really see everything working out the way it did as being the result of luck?
We echoed that in the second episode, where Carol is walking along with Daryl, and he says, "You helped save everybody," and she was like, "No. We got lucky." I think part of her stance right now is we can't just get lucky. We can't count on that. We have got to be so proactive. We have to be prepared and proactive.
When we talked to Scott Gimple about the premiere and Carol's heroics, he said there is a price she will have to pay for being willing to take on everything she does, and that she's aware of that and willing to pay it. In Episode 2, she seemed to have a hard time feeling comfortable with the group. Is that the price she has to pay for being willing to sacrifice for those people?
Yeah. I think it's where her mindset is, [and] it may not be congruent with what's going on now, with the new people. There's this whole idea of getting to Washington, and they're celebrating. That was a very surreal, strange scene, where they're in the church and talking about going to D.C. They're celebrating and looking forward, and Carol's looking back at the door.
Our guard can't be down, so Carol is in such a different mindset. She doesn't know if she belongs here. She says that to Daryl when he asks, "What are you doing?" She's like, "I don't know."
Was she about to get in the car and drive away when Daryl happened upon her?
She's contemplating things. She's contemplating things, for sure.
Is she dealing with guilt, too? Is that why she agreed when Tyreese said they shouldn't tell everyone what happened with Lizzie and Mika?
It's more survivor's guilt than it is, "Oh, I've done a terrible thing, and I just can't live with myself." She knew she had to do what she had to do. That's where she's at. She can't be remorseful. She's sorry that the world has come to this, that we're all having to do horrible things that we never in our lives ever thought that we would or that we were even capable of doing. This is who we are now. This is what the world is. A lot of it's very ugly. We don't have time to think about it. We can't rely on getting lucky. She also understands when Tyreese says, "I just need to forget about it," and she pretty much verbatim said the same thing to Daryl. It's not that she doesn't want to talk about it. She can't talk about it.
If Tyreese had not asked her to keep what happened in "The Grove" secret, do you think Carol would have told everyone?
I think if anyone had asked, she would be ready to tell them. That's where she's at, as this illustrates to her and everyone else, this is as bad as it gets. This is where we are now. It was horrible, it broke her heart to pieces, and I'm sure it still does. But that's the reality now. These things are so ugly, but that's what we do now.
What can you say about Carol's arc for the rest of the season?
Gosh. That's tough. I think she's...What is that old saying? "Nothing changes until it becomes what it is." What is it?
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays, at 9 p.m. on AMC.