'Walking Dead' Dissection: Melissa McBride on What's Next for Carol

"There are so many ways to turn what's going on here to find these parallels between Rick and Carol, between what she's done and what everyone has done in some way," the actress tells THR in our weekly postmortem.
Gene Page/AMC
"The Walking Dead's" Andrew Lincoln and Melissa McBride

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the "Indifference" episode of AMC's The Walking Dead.]

With the flu outbreak getting worse at the prison and no sign of Daryl's group, Rick and Carol hit the road in search of their own medical supplies -- and food -- during Sunday's The Walking Dead.

After finding supplies and food, Rick and Carol finally address her decision to kill Karen and David. Carol (Melissa McBride) maintains that she stepped up in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the group, while Rick (Andrew Lincoln) believes they deserved the chance to recover. Ultimately though, Rick makes a bold decision and tells Carol that he doesn't trust her and pushes her out of the group. The move sets Carol on a path of her own, traveling alone with only a car and some supplies to her name.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with McBride to discuss Rick's decision and how Carol will fare solo. Plus how will Daryl (Norman Reedus) respond to his closest friend at the prison no longer being there?

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Rick has kicked Carol out of the prison! What was your first response when you read the script?

I didn't see that coming! I was pretty floored and I love it. I liked where it went. I looked at it from the story and thought, "God, how ironic." This choice that Rick has made, there's so much going on and so many parallels. There are so many ways to turn what's going on here to find these parallels between Rick and Carol, between what she's done and what everyone has done in some way. I can't help but really like the way that this went down.

Were you worried that you were being written out of the show? Will Carol be back?

No, I wasn't worried. We don't know if she'll be back! (Laughs.) I can't say! I can't wait until everyone sees how this season plays out. It's going in so many directions.

If this was it for Carol, would you be satisfied?

That's a tough question because I like not knowing. I can only imagine what the hell she's up to out there and what she's going to do. I like that aspect, but then it's so abrupt and weird. It's so hard to understand and to completely banish her, it's flooring.

Do you think Carol deserved to be banished from the group?

No. It's interesting Rick wants to go on this run and bring her along for it. They're testing one another it seems. She knows what happened to Shane (Jon Bernthal) and questions what's going on there. Rick is feeling the same way and wondering what's going on with her. Obviously when she took the risk, Carol knew there would be consequences if she had to confess or if anyone found out. She was prepared to tell Rick, that he would find out. She even suggested in the council meeting that Rick do a timeline to see who was where and when as the slayings happened. That's very interesting to note. Did she want to get caught? When she says to Rick that she did it, she stands there for a second and waits and he doesn't say anything, so she presses on with her task.

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It's interesting that you mention the timeline. There's a theory that Carol is covering for Lizzie, who in this episode reveals that she's not afraid to kill people.

I'm sure Carol did it. But did she want Rick to find out? Hence the episode title, "Indifference." That's an interesting title for this and that attitude toward some of the things that Carol felt had to be done, because there was a more pressing matter that all goes back to the things we have to do in this world to survive and can we come back from them. There's a bit of that at play: Rick pulling Carl (Chandler Riggs) in and taking his gun away after he shot and killed the boy. There's also a part of Rick that obviously doesn't trust Carol because he sees what she's capable of now -- he's seen a lot of what she's capable of in this episode. I don't know what else she's capable of, had it been someone else besides Karen. What if it had been one of our original Atlanta people? What would she have done then? She's going about this with a very single mind and not talking to other council people, and that's frightening. That threatens his position of leadership, even though he had taken a backseat to it and didn't come to the council meetings -- which she and the group really wanted him to attend since his voice is important. She's wanting to be caught and wanting Rick to do something.

Carol doesn't want Lizzie to call her "Mom" but later tells the two strangers that she has two kids. Why would she deny her that?

You have to depend on yourself, so there's a bit of that going on. As well, she doesn't want her to get used to the fact that whatever your idea of "mother" is, you have to be there for yourself, too. She needs to be prepared to act alone. Carol also has that "I can't go there again; I can't take you into my heart." It's too painful after Sophia, and she can't go through that again. She knows she's the mother figure, but to call her mom is too much. Then when she and Rick get to the house, she says she has two daughters. That was really for Rick to understand that there are two little girls that Carol is protecting as her own, and they have to get back. Her objective is to get the stuff and get back and to reiterate why she did what she did in the first place: to protect the children and the group.

Could Carol attempt to return to the prison for Lizzie and Mika?

I certainly hope so. She knows someone has to take care of them because that was Ryan's dying request. Her heart is broken, and I would hope she finds a way back, but I don't know. Plus she's got the crappy car! Rick took the good one!

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We know the Governor (David Morrissey) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and his group are out there. What are the odds Carol finds them?

We'll have to wait and see!

Carol has really evolved since the show started, from abused wife to a fearless woman. How will she fare on the road, solo?

Carol said, "Maybe I'll do fine, maybe I won't." Rick seems to feel that she's got some mad skills. I want to have faith in her, but it's a horrible world, and you never know what's hiding around that tree.

How will we see Rick explain her absence when he returns? How will that go over with everyone? Will he tell Tyreese (Chad Coleman)?

That's remains to be seen. Is he going to tell them exactly what happened? Will he make something up? Is he going to tell everyone that she killed Karen and David? Is he going to tell them why? Is he going to tell them why he left her? There were other options, and he could have brought her back if he was worried about her killing other people. She told him: Karen and David were suffering. Was it a mercy kill before they had an opportunity to turn? That's what's so weird about that ending: Why is banishing her the only option? I understand he didn't trust her and felt uncomfortable and uncertain about what she's capable of, but is there something else going on with Rick personally about his ability to lead and make decisions and trust himself in the decisions he makes? Have both of them gone too far?

How will Daryl respond to Carol's absence? Will he question Rick?

I hope that he questions Rick's decision, if Rick decides to tell everyone. Rick kept the fact that everyone was already infected to himself, as well as the fact that he killed Shane. It's all up in the air in terms of how he'll handle it.

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Will Rick struggle with his decision to banish her? Do you think he knew what he was doing when they left the prison together?

I hope so! (Laughs.) I'd like to see him struggle with the decision in terms of how he's going to address how Carol isn't there anymore. I hope he takes more time with that than he did deciding to banish Carl from the group. I think throughout the episode, Rick was making his mind up. The more Carol asserted herself, it seems the more his mind was made up. She doesn't back down; she has a mission and I like that about her. This is that part of her that should have been around back then, that could have been around back then. I was thinking about the abuse Carol suffered at the hands of her husband, Ed (Adam Minarovich) and then Ed was gone. Then Sophia goes missing and turns up as a walker and has to be put down -- Carol is even more diminished than she was in that guilt of not having to be able to do anything for her daughter. What really propelled her was the idea that we can beat our own assess into submission worse than anyone else by the guilt we feel and put on ourselves. She realized that and came out of it knowing she was the one kicking her own ass.

What did you think of Rick pushing Carol out of the group? How do you think she'll fare, solo? Hit the comments below with your thoughts. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
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