'Walking Dead's' Melissa McBride on Carol's Scary Side, Impending Threats

The actress talks with THR about Carol's confrontation and teases a "very powerful" end of the season.
Gene Page/AMC
Melissa McBride

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode 513, "Forever," of AMC's The Walking Dead.]

Melissa McBride's Carol will do whatever it takes to protect herself and the people she loves on AMC's The Walking Dead. That much was on full display during Sunday's hour, during which Carol remained "undercover" as a seemingly hapless former housewife who may have scared the crap out of a young Alexandria resident.

During the hour, Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) band of survivors began adjusting to Alexandria, where some — Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) — continued to struggle to accept their seemingly new "normal" way of life. But while everyone has their jobs — Daryl's a new recruiter after bonding with Aaron (Ross Marquand) — Carol, Rick and Daryl are working diligently to ensure they are ready when the proverbial shit hits the fan. (You know, because no one can be as lucky as the people of Alexandria.)

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That entailed Carol breaking into the armory while everyone was enjoying Deanna's (Tovah Feldshuh) party (Keep drinking Abraham, we're good!). Only she wasn't alone: Jessie's (Alexandra Breckenridge) young son, Sam (Major Dodson), followed her in search of cookies. That resulted in Carol sharing a horrifying story of what could happen should the young boy tell anyone what he saw.

Elsewhere, Sasha is transitioning to become the Andrea featured in the comics and hones her shooting skills while juggling PTSD and advances from Deanna's other son, Spencer (Austin Nichols).

Here, McBride talks with The Hollywood Reporter about the seemingly out-of-character confrontation as well as the mysteries ahead — including what's up with what "W" carved into the dead walkers' heads.

Carol has a very unsettling scene with Jessie's son, Sam. Where do you think this came from? It seems so out of character for Carol. Has she gone too far? Will threatening a kid come back to bite her — especially considering Rick's flirtation with Jessie?

I didn't see it [as a threat]. For her, when Carol tells him her intention is to get the weapons to be able to defend herself and to be able to give Rick and Daryl weapons for the same reason, when she realizes he's there, her whole intention is to drop in "this is what's going to happen if you tell." When she's talking about that he's going to be tied to a tree, she's not really talking about the walkers. It can be [seen as] her threatening him — the child certainly feels that way. And that may be part of her intent — scared straight! (laughs) — but it's not necessarily what Carol is going to do to you, but this is what's going to happen if you tell. There's a very fine line, and she's trying to work him, but this is what happened to Bob (Larry Gilliard Jr.); she's talking about things she knows that can happen out there. There are people who will eat you alive.

Carol is intentionally trying to be invisible here, wearing "ridiculous" clothing and trying to pass as a somewhat helpless homemaker. How might the truth impact her status at Alexandria?

She'll straight-up just say, "I had to do what I had to do! I don't know who you are. We have to figure this place out. You're dropping listening devices, there's clearly some trust issues here." (Laughs.) Can you blame her?! I saw nothing wrong with taking liberties to find out what Alexandria is about, and if that means going undercover, surely they can understand that. (Laughs.)

When is the next time she'll use her innocence to her advantage? We saw Tobin (Jason Douglas) offer to give her shooting lessons and seemingly buy into her front.

That's interesting that he's offering shooting lessons to the women. Do they take them? Are the women taking him up on this? It's an interesting facet of how this town is run — who is willing to do what? Do they feel so secure within the walls that they feel like they don't need to protect themselves? I don't know.

Tobin seems to have a little bit of a flirtation with Carol. Could she ever find love in this town?

Good question! I think she's a little preoccupied. It's not on the top of her priority list; if something happens, it happens. But she has trust issues! (Laughs.)

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Speaking of which, will she allow herself to trust anyone new, especially as Rick and company continue to vet these people?

I think she's beyond giving anyone the benefit of the doubt. She doesn't just hand over her trust. She has to know for sure. The irony is that she's pretending to be someone else — who else is pretending to be someone else? We're trying to find out who people are.

Daryl, after bonding with Eric and Aaron, refuses to take a gun and is trying to fit in to this community. How will this impact how Carol feels about this community? Will this drive a wedge between Carol and Daryl?

I hope not. She's concerned about people getting too comfortable. We're going to try [to fit in], but at the same time, we can't drop our guard and become weak. There's definitely some concern [about] that move on Daryl's part. "You can still try [to fit in], but here, take this gun as a backup." Hello!

Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) has PTSD and is having trouble fitting in. Plus Spencer (Austin Nichols) is hitting on her, which he does to Andrea in the comics. Is it safe to say Sasha is the group's new sharpshooter and is subbing for Andrea here?

It's not safe to say anything, but I will say I love this episode. This is another of my favorite episodes. Sonequa's is one of the great performances in this episode. The dialogue, the representations, the microcosm of bigger pictures; the us vs. them trying to make the "we" come into the center of this community; what we pull from our past, the whole horse "he used to run" symbolism with Daryl — I loved so much about this episode.

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What's been so great about these Alexandria episodes is that the show has made "normalcy" terrifying.

But what is normalcy? Their normalcy at that point is very different from ours, and we're trying to meet in the center of this place and become a "we" with these very different perspectives and experiences — the inner world and the outer world. We're just separated by a wall. How they've been living, how we've been living, and the idea that we're going to be fine or "normal" when we've lost [people] and had things taken away. It doesn't happen overnight, and can it happen at all? That sequence with Sasha was so powerful. This inconsequential stuff like fresh tea coming from where we've just come from? This is what is on your mind today? I'm so excited to see how this plays out.

There's a walker with a "W" — or an upside down "M" — carved into its forehead. Could this be a Morgan clue? What can you say about what we'll learn there?

[Carol believes] it's a "W"; we think it's a "W." That's going to be revealed. It's obviously something that's curious that we haven't seen before. What does it mean? Is it somebody's signature? We'll see.

Alexandria is weak. What's the biggest threat to the community? Other humans — maybe Negan — or a walker invasion, both of which happen at this point in the comics?

It's other humans, as far as we're concerned. They're so unpredictable. "You can't get lucky," that's what Rick says, and we've said it again and again. We can't just hope to get lucky. There was Woodbury, Terminus — who are these people? That's the whole thing with Carol telling this child the story: it's people. She didn't come right out and say the monsters are people; "There are walkers out there and there's people out there, and they'll get you, so keep quiet and let me do my work." Carol doesn't want to end up that way, either.

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After the losses of Bob, Tyreese and Beth, which cut right to the heart, how will the three remaining episodes of season five compare?

This is a very powerful backend. These are some of the best performances I've seen — and I'm not going to say anything about the finale!

Will Alexandria have the alarm bell rung for it?

We're going to be facing realities. Rick says something about how lucky these people are in Alexandria, and Daryl says, "Why's that?" and Rick says, "Because we're here now." You sure about that? (Laughs.)

What did you think about Carol's encounter? Sound off in the comments below. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit

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