The Walking Dead’s Melissa McBride on What That Carol vs. Alpha Staredown Means for Season 10

A vengeful Carol (Melissa McBride) is ready to go to war against Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the Whisperers in The Walking Dead Season 10. When returning to Alexandria after months away as a “sea dog,” Carol tells best friend Daryl (Norman Reedus) she set sail to escape the grief of losing son Henry (Matt Lintz). Murdered by Alpha alongside nine other victims, Henry’s death subsequently forced a split between Carol and husband King Ezekiel (Khary Payton). With her fairy tale book closed by Alpha and her masked freaks, could Carol be out to start a war in order to win her vengeance?

“Maybe,” McBride answered with a sly smile on Talking Dead after the Season 10 premiere ended with Carol, crossed into Whisperer territory, staring down Alpha for the first time since her son’s murder. When host Chris Hardwick noted Carol didn’t seem phased by Alpha’s sudden appearance, McBride made a face as if to say, Come on, it’s Carol.

“That was an intense scene when watching it. When we’re shooting it, we shot it separately,” McBride said. “She wasn’t actually there, so I’m imagining that she’s staring at me, and I’m staring at her. And then when I see it, she’s like a lion coming out of the lair. I’m surprised to see that.”

During TWD’s Season 10 panel at San Diego Comic-Con in July, McBride said she feels like there “deserves to be” a Carol vs. Alpha showdown.

“Carol wants vengeance,” McBride said. “It’s hard enough to try to survive in the world where everything in the world itself, the odds are against you, and you go from one day to the next trying to justify going one day to the next, and it’s so hard. ‘Why are you doing this?’ Then you have a human being coming and making that all that much worse and taking things from you. I think there should be a showdown.”

But that lust for revenge brings Carol down an unexpected and emotional path over the course of the season.

“It’s funny because everybody always talks about Carol as a badass. But I never really see Carol that way,” Greg Nicotero, who directed the season opener, told EW. “I always see Carol as a woman who is relentless, and resourceful, and she does what she needs to do. But she’s filled with emotion and she’s a woman who doesn’t know how to deal with her emotion. So when we start the episode and you realize that she’s been out on a boat, and she’s been living under the stars and fishing, it’s like, ‘Oh well that’s really interesting.’

Carol “really wasn’t out for vengeance, she was just dealing with her grief,” Nicotero continued, adding she was “dealing with her grief in a very constructive way.”

After a Whisperer mask is discovered by Judith (Cailey Fleming), Carol and Daryl talk about heading someplace far — like New Mexico — someplace to avoid more fighting. But Carol’s encounter with Alpha, in the same spot where the Whisperer leader once showed Daryl a valley filled with her walker horde, pulls Carol towards vengeance.

“I love that scene between the two of them because it’s the calm before the storm. As soon as she lays eyes on Alpha at the end, you know all of that is gone,” Nicotero said. “But I really love how comfortable the two of them are together. And Daryl’s sort of priming her for a fight. He’s like, ‘Listen, we found a mask. And we got some scouts going out, are you interested?’ And she’s like, ‘Nope, I’m not interested.’ She doesn’t want to go there. And she was completely fine not going there until she lays eyes on Alpha. And then it’s like, ‘Well, now I got to go there.’”

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Audiences will next learn what Alpha was up to just before spotting Carol in 10x02, “We Are the End of the World,” an episode focused solely on the Whisperer cult.

New episodes of The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.