The Walking Dead: Melissa McBride Talks Caryl, Guilt, & More

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Sunday was a big night for Carol on The Walking Dead. The character found herself kidnapped and trapped in the hands of Negan's Saviors with only one friend in sight. Be warned, spoilers follow for the thirteenth episode of The Walking Dead's sixth season, The Same Boat.

Carol and Maggie clawed their way out of the Saviors' hideout location. While Carol wanted to head straight for the door after freeing herself, Maggie wanted to make sure that every last Savior nearby was killed.

Carol's struggles, paired with her new potential relationship with Alexandria-native Tobin, have made her story very complex lately. caught up with the actress burdened with bringing Carol to life in the apocalypse over the weekend to hear some of her perspective on the character's recent choices and circumstances.


CB: The internet and fans applauded when Carol killed off an evil little girl but when she picks up a cigarette, it seems we hear quite an uproar. So, I'm wondering, what's the deal with the cigarettes?

MM: I think there's several ways to look at it. She could be punishing herself. She's struggling a lot and she could be punishing herself from the inside out in a way. It could also be a form of escape to do something that's not her. She feels further away from the person she has to be. And, also, it goes back to Neidermeyer and just, in this world the best thing that can happen is you don't have to kill somebody today. Neidermeyer she just wants her cigarettes. Sam, he just wants cookies. How she made a big deal of that, when it's just one little simple pleasure here and there, please. There's feeling guilty, too. There's several ways to look at that.

Speaking of feeling guilty, a lot of that was present in Sunday's The Same Boat episode when Carol doesn't want to kill all of these Saviors but Maggie does. Ultimately, she does in order to escape, but is the whole avoiding killing thing coming from a place of guilt or is Morgan starting to rub off on her?

Well, she struggled with the guilt, I think and I have carried it as I've played the character, which may be different from how people perceive her but I know she has carried it. I think that, certainly, Morgan is a catalyst that drives this uncertainty even further up to the top burner. I think the loss of Sam, the loss of her daughter, what she's been carrying around with Lizzie, and the only person who knows that is dead and he forgave her, but there may be something right about what Morgan is saying. It's not just black and white. There's so much grey area and hesitation. She's been killing people with no hesitation at all. I think that's part of the list, is going through and trying to remember each one, and "How?" and "Why?" and "Did I have to do that?" I think she wants understanding for herself but, no, from the very beginning she has not felt guilty about having to do what she's done to help her group survive. That's why she likes to bake the cookies. She's just grappling for humanity and to be normal again.

That leads me to my next question, which comes from Twitter: Is it tough for you play such different sides of the spectrum, where in one half of an episode you're baking cookies and the other you're infiltrating a Saviors compound trying to kill everyone in sight?

No because I know the character so well. I get what she's doing. Her running around with the cookies is not as happy as it looks. Just two weeks ago, or however long it was, she was running around with a bag full of guns putting them in people's hands. It's just, she's polarized. They both make perfect sense to me depending what kind of day it is.

On a happier note, it seems like Carol is getting a little cozy with Tobin. She kisses him last week and this week she gets a hug from Daryl. So, everybody wants to know, is Daryl/Caryl ruled out now?

You know, I have a hard to talking about Caryl in a romantic sense because we haven't had it yet. I have a hard time talking about it because it's not part of our story. It's not solidified, it's speculation. I only have a hard time because the fans, there's that fandom that wants it, which is great! Then there's another side of the fandom that doesn't and that's fine. I don't know how to respond to it so much because, in the story I'm telling, it hasn't happened. I can say that Carol still loves him very much. She loves everyone in the group and she's more so bonded with Daryl because of their similarities and I think at this point, when Carol came out that door wearing that sweater, this is somebody that Daryl would have a very hard time relating to. In order for her to maintain that mash, separation would make sense to me. He may not be comfortable being around who she feels like she needs to be right now.

To wrap up Sunday's episode, Rick comes in and shoots this guy who claims to be Negan right in front of Carol. What is Carol's mindset in that moment and going forward?

I think she's just stunned. She's stunned by the whole experience of being held captive by these women and getting free of them by everything that happened in there. She held out until the very last minute with this woman, as long as she could, and so I think it's either the affirmation of something she thought she knew, but then again it doesn't answer anything. This whole experience, she's just stunned by the whole experience of what she's just been through, and struggling with all of these questions in her mind like "What is the right thing to do?" and then to have that happen right in front of her, I think it just stunned her that it can't be. And she just tensed up. She held onto that Rosary. I love that last shot of the blood dripping.

A lot of the cast and crew have been weighing in on the finale, saying how crazy and phenomenal it is. What were your thoughts when you read and executed the season six finale?

That it was so very dark. I couldn't say anything after I had finished reading it. I felt like I had dropped into a blackhole.