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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead comic book series on which the AMC drama is based.]
Five seasons in, Melissa McBride‘s Carol has evolved into one of The Walking Dead‘s best (and not-so-secret) weapons.
The actress, who started in season one as a recurring player before being promoted to regular a year later, most recently stepped in to save Rick and company from being served for lunch at Terminus. And that’s just the latest triumph for the character, who has already outlived her comic book counterpart. So is Carol slowly becoming the new Andrea in AMC’s zombie drama?
For the those who haven’t read the comics, Andrea — who was played by Laurie Holden on the AMC series — is alive and well. The character is a sharpshooter who, with Dale, adopts brothers Ben and Billy after their father’s death. AMC remixed Ben and Billy’s story during season four with Lizzie and Mika, with Carol becoming a de facto mother to the girls after their dad’s passing. That story came to a head when a clearly unstable Lizzie was unable to grasp the new rules of the world and killed her sister, prompting Carol to take the young girl’s life. (“Look at the flowers” will never sound the same.)
“Carol is her own unique character; it would be a disservice to Melissa McBride to say she’s evolved into the Carol from comics,” says executive producer and comics creator Robert Kirkman. “The Carol in the TV show is a wholly original creation that we’ll continue to explore on the show to great effect. Everyone in writers’ room loves that character, and we’re thrilled with what Melissa has brought to the table. She has definitely become a character that is one to watch, and there’s some really exciting stuff ahead for her.”
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AMC’s Carol started out like her comics counterpart — weak and dependent on her abusive husband, Ed, and an overprotective mom to daughter Sophia. After Ed was killed by walkers, Carol eventually took out years of frustration and beat him in a bid to prevent him from reanimating. That started the character’s journey to becoming the strong and fierce warrior Carol has become.
Carol certainly helps to fill the void that Andrea’s death created. Andrea, a former civil rights attorney, was shockingly killed off in the season three finale after a romantic relationship with The Governor (David Morrissey) failed to help her quest for peace between the Woodbury camp and Rick’s survivors. Her character in the comics, however, becomes Rick’s love interest and, perhaps more importantly, a top leader within the thriving group of survivors.
“In the remix approach, there are aspects of a few characters that I think are going to be divvied up,” says showrunner Scott M. Gimple. “We have characters who aren’t there anymore and other characters in general. I can already see some of that. There’s something about the Andrea of the comic; it isn’t simply strength. Andrea in the comic has such an interesting evolution. There was a certain brashness and cockiness that she had. We’ve seen her mature. I think Carol’s journey is different because there’s never been that cockiness.”
“Carol started out with an absence of strength in the face of Ed, and now she’s easily one of the strongest characters,” he adds. “Finding out the responsibility for that strength — I don’t mean to go all Stan Lee [and his memorable expression ‘with great power comes great responsibility’] — but I see her very different than the comic book Andrea other than the fact that she’s a good shot.”
And it was that skill that helped save Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Bob (Larry Gilliard Jr.) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) from having their throats slashed at Terminus when Carol triggered an explosion that ultimately reunited the beleaguered former sheriff with his daughter, among others. As for where she goes from here now that the entire group is back together, that still remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: Carol has truly become a force to be reckoned with and a valuable asset to Rick.
“A lot of people are saying she’s moved into this leadership position and I can totally see that in the future for her,” Gimple says. “But right now she’s got this incredible and difficult message from the universe about power and responsibility. She’s just starting her journey toward leadership; if there is one, she has a lot to get over now. I’m not saying she’s going to walk around tortured, but the events of episode 414 [with Lizzie and Mika] are an incredible thing for her. The effects of that and how that changes her will be felt — and for Tyreese as well.”
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. Stay tuned to THR‘s The Live Feed for complete coverage.
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Robert De Niro