Take heart, Carol fans! We have a promise that we’ll see much more of our favorite little born-again pacifist in the cottage by The Kingdom, straight from Melissa McBride, who plays her. When The Walking Dead Season 7 returns Feb. 12, the rest of the Grimes Gang has reunited to gather ranks for the war on Negan — and while McBride couldn’t tell us if she joins in, she had much to say about the determining factors.
Carol’s need for solitude is a hotly debated topic. What’s your take?
Melissa McBride: When I think of where she’s come from, with a controlling, abusive husband, and then being in a world that is suddenly dictating only one way to survive, I think there is sort of a taking back her own control in a way and saying, “I want to get back to myself and understand what’s going on here. Is there another way? I don’t want anybody to tell me. I can figure this out by myself.” And then, of course, the issue of really having to answer to that dilemma — or just turn away from that dilemma — of if you’re going to be around people that you care about, you’re going to have to kill to help save them. That’s just not a comfortable place for her to be. She’s traumatized and really wanting to figure this out and have something in her life that she can control on her own.
Will Carol really be able to stay away when she learns what happened to Glenn and Abraham and, especially, when she realizes Maggie’s plight?
I think there is maybe a part of Carol that — for that very reason — doesn’t want to know. Because she knows how she is. All the more reason not to put herself in the midst of all that. Knowing Carol the way I do and the way you do, I think it’s pretty sure that she’s going to find out about Abraham and Glenn, what happened — but to see how that makes her react, I’m very excited for that.
I was happy to see her call out to Morgan in the midseason finale. Is there hope for this friendship?
There’ll be more interactions with her and Morgan, talking about how we’re just trying to understand this world, their perspectives and how their points of view can fit into this world. Where is that happy place, and how does that impact the survivors within each of the groups? Also, the bigger question: How much of the truth do you want to know? How does each of those groups deal with facing the same situation with the different types of knowledge that they have?
Ezekiel isn’t giving up on Carol, either. The scene where he reveals his true self to her is one of my favorites of the whole series.
There was something so beautiful and peaceful and relaxing and refreshing about that scene. For the character of Carol, just to sit with somebody who you realize they’ve been playing all along, too, putting on this face all along — just to let it all go and take it off for a minute, there was something that just felt wonderful and safe. Just for those few moments to be with someone who’s just laying it all out — and, also, reading you very well. Even though it was maybe something she didn’t want to hear because she knows it’s true. That conversation was really important — like, “Yeah, OK, you too? Me too. Too close. Gotta go!”
I’m partial to the female characters on the series. Tell me about getting to play these characters with Lauren and Danai and Sonequa for such a long while.
They are such powerhouse actresses and so inspiring to watch. It makes me happy to see these arcs that we’re seeing, because they’re really saving the day. As it should be in this world, no matter where you come from or who you are, you have every opportunity to rise up and be the leader, be your own leader and not compromise your vulnerability — because if you’re not an empathetic human being, there’s a lot you just don’t know.
I love the evolving Maggie and Enid relationship, too, since all we really have had in terms of passing down the wisdom and the difference in generational thinking is Carl and Rick.
Me, too! I think there’s a lot of room for that relationship to grow, in particular because there’s the potential for Enid to become a big sister to Maggie’s baby. I love the whole nurturing and passing down of wisdom that you just spoke of. I love that. There is so much potential for storytelling in that relationship. The idea that there is new life right there — as Maggie loses one, she’s carrying another. Even though we know that there is some sort of war on the horizon here, there is still the hope of new life. Just to see them all coming together, coming together again and knowing that there is new life on the horizon, it’s just so … hopeful!
So many new characters and communities have been thrown into the mix. What’s it like seeing all these new faces on set?
I’m enjoying the new characters that have been introduced in the world that Carol’s in, The Kingdom. It is a different shooting dynamic, too. You’re not shooting every episode, you’re not around all those familiar faces, and you see new faces that have been here since the beginning of Season 7 and you haven’t even met them yet. That feels kind of weird when you first get introduced — like, “Oh, OK! You’re that guy. Gotcha!” But it’s exciting introducing all the new survivor groups. And it’s leading to something, definitely. Yeah!
The Walking Dead Season 7 returns Sunday, Feb. 12, at 9/8c on AMC