'Walking Dead's' Melissa McBride on Carol's Heroic Coming Out Moment

"The illusion is coming down all around," McBride tells THR about her character's big reveal.
 Gene Page/AMC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode 602, "JSS," of AMC's The Walking Dead.]

AMC's The Walking Dead didn't wait long to answer who — and what — was behind the alarming horn sound featured during its season six premiere. The answer, as would be expected on the zombie drama, was a deadly one. 

The second episode of season six takes place in Alexandria during a time that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his team are working to control the massive horde of the undead. While the day starts off as business as usual — people complaining about the lack of a pasta maker — it ended with a savage attack by the Wolves that included a big rig crashing into the wall and its horn going off on impact.

As Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Alexandria leader Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) are going over plans to expand the community (reinforcing the walls, planting crops), the Wolves' attack forces Carol (Melissa McBride) to drop her "Suzie homemaker" cover. She disguises herself as a member of the Wolves and goes on a killing spree against the deadly intruders in order to save the community. 

It also sets up a conflict between Carol and Morgan (Lennie James) when the former raids the armory and hands Alexandria's newest arrival a gun. He objects — handing the gun to Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), who now wants to learn to fight — and they go their separate ways. Morgan ultimately allows a few of the Wolves to leave the community instead of killing them — something that will likely come back to hurt them.

Meanwhile, Deanna and her son Spencer (Austin Nichols) — who has been attempting to keep watch over Alexandria but is a terrible shot and can't really defend himself on the ground — freely admit that they're ill-prepared to fight and leave the task to Morgan and Carol.  

In related news, Carl (Chandler Riggs) proves that he's more of an adult than anyone else his age when he keeps watch over Judith and saves Jessie's (Alexandra Breckenridge) snotty teenage son Ron (Austin Abrams) from certain death.

When the dust settles, young Enid (Katelyn Nacon) — whose parents were killed by walkers as she looked on — leaves the community and leaves a note for Carl to "Just survive, somehow," which also explains the episode's title.

THR caught up with McBride to discuss Carol's blown cover, her clash with Morgan and what's next.

This is such a huge Carol episode  with Rick outside the walls, it's a great spotlight. Do you see this episode as a culmination of sorts for Carol?

Yes, I do. Everything that she's been through — all the losses she's experienced, everything she has had to do — this is reaching its tipping point.

It's also Carol's big coming out episode in Alexandria: Now everyone knows what she's capable of after she saves the community. How will this change her standing within Alexandria?

Her cover is blown now and I think that's OK. We'll have to wait and see how the Alexandrians respond to her and we'll come to see how they respond to her — and also to having that normalcy that everybody looked forward to. It was so hopeful and wonderful but it only lasted for a few minutes and now that's been blown, too. That parallels her cover being blown and the idea of that normalcy being blown. That's now hit home that this is the world you're living in and the Alexandrians are seeing it firsthand. The illusion is coming down all around.

This is a total wake-up call for everyone in Alexandria, especially Deanna and her son, Spencer.

It is a wake-up call for them. This is what Rick has been trying to tell them the whole time. It's just reiterating and illustrating how bad it is. We are a group that is equipped to try and defend ourselves against this kind of thing because we've done it before. We'll see how they react to that — and where that puts Rick and our group within the community.

Can Carol go back to the way she was living before the attack  and working on kitchen detail  in Alexandria after this?

Carol was doing that sort of thing before this happened. It's twofold — she was playing that disguise but I'm sure there's a part of Carol that does want that normalcy. Everything she said about being in the kitchen when she was depressed and how it gave her something to think about besides everything that made her sad. There genuinely is a desire to have that feeling again. Then to have that wiped away … that kind of hope that maybe things could be normal — and then she's seeing the Alexandrians killed and having to put down [Alexandria residents] Erin and Neudermeyer. If she hadn't had to play this role, they could have been friends.

Will Carol's position within Alexandria change? This makes her so much more of a leader and someone who speaks the truth without being as scary as Rick.

We'll see how people respond. They'll definitely see that she's a capable fighter and perhaps it will inspire some of them [to change]. For me, it all goes back to how unlikely Carol is to be running around with guns and knives and it's awesome for me to watch her survive in the way she does. She's still unlikely for me.

It's like what Enid was writing on her hand: "Just survive, somehow." It's like a mantra for Carol as well.

Yes, it is.

Carol and Morgan really clashed this episode. She turned to him for help and he basically refused. That end scene was a good example of Carol telling him, "I told you so." What does she think of him now?

We'll explore their challenge and the conflict of each of their mindsets and how each approaches survival. Morgan thinks Carol is wrong as much as Carol thinks Morgan is wrong and we'll see how that turns out. They've got interesting stuff coming up together as we explore their mindset and how they approach the world — and what, if any, influence one has over the other.

How do you think Carol will respond when she learns that Morgan let some of the Wolves survive — and that Alexandria is armed?

Is she going to find out?! That's what's scary as a viewer — having that information that if we let them go, are we going to see them again? Carol and all of Rick's people know that you don't give people a second chance that are threatening your life like that. You can send someone away but you always run the risk of them returning as a greater force than before. So you try to get those threats out of the way immediately.

How will the Wolves' attack change the way Alexandria responds to Rick's return?

The community is totally shaken — and some of them are going to realize that Rick was right all along. I'd imagine many of them are saying, "Yes, teach me how to fight; teach me what you know." This was horrible and can't happen again.

What did you think of badass Carol's big day? How do you think the Wolves' attack will change Alexandria? Sound off in the comments below. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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