It’s The Walking Dead episode that has everyone talking, and now the woman at the center of it all — Melissa McBride, who plays Carol — gives her take on the events of last night’s episode, “The Grove.” [SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead.]
Carol made another controversial decision last night, shooting her “adopted” daughter Lizzie in the head after Lizzie stabbed and killed her sister Mika to prove that she would come back to life. “We can’t sleep with her and Judith under the same roof,” Carol told Tyreese before going through with it. “She can’t be around other people.” And that was that. We caught up with McBride to get her take on the controversial episode and Carol’s controversial decision. Does she think Carol made the right move? What was it like filming those grisly scenes with the young girls? And what about that super secret appearance of Sophia in the episode? The woman who plays Carol reveals all here.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, you realize I am never going to look at flowers ever again because of you, right?
MELISSA McBRIDE: Awwww. But that’s what they’re for, to give you something pretty to look at. It’s okay! Yeah, I’m hearing that a lot. Looking at the flowers will never be the same for me now.
EW: What was your reaction when showrunner Scott Gimple told you about this episode and what was going to transpire?
McBRIDE: Well, it was a bit of a mystery when he first mentioned it. He said that Carol would be required to do something very difficult and I was thinking, oh dear, maybe there’s a scuffle between her and Tyreese. I had no idea. And then when I did read the episode and was going along and seeing how messed up Lizzie was…to answer your question, it was just devastating and heartbreaking. Period.
EW: When I spoke with Andrew Lincoln recently he told me he couldn’t believe when he read the script that you guys were going to go ahead and do this episode and he even went to Scott and was like, “Are we really going to do this?” Was there any part of you wondering whether this was just too much?
McBRIDE: No, because I figure they know what they’re doing. It was obviously so heavy and I just had to remember that there is this source material — Robert Kirkman’s source material — that they are pulling us from that and that’s what this show is. And it’s a story that needs to be told. It’s an element that had not been examined yet really from the perspective of our group — just the mental fragility and mindset and different perspectives of children. This is something that really needs to be explored in this world. And Carol’s arc has dealt so much with children that this group was the best one for this story to be told. It just had to be told.
EW: You mentioned the source material. Did you go back and read that part of the comic book with the two brothers, Ben and Billy, which parallels what happened here on TV even though that didn’t even involve your character?
McBRIDE: I don’t usually refer back to the graphic novels. I have most all of them and got through a great portion when we began filming, but I know that story and I know that it belonged to a couple of other characters. I know it was different in the graphic novels but that if they’re trying to bring that story to television, we know that they diverge and pull things and give it to other characters and it’s great to keep it fresh. But I think it was pretty brilliant the way that story unfolded from the comics to Carol and her group and these children.
EW: Tell me about the puzzle you guys were doing during the episode because I understand that was no ordinary puzzle.
McBRIDE: No, and we had no idea until we were shooting that confession scene. We had no idea what the puzzle was and we were trying to take little guesses and they would get certain portions of it together in between shoots when they would work on it. And then props would come along and mess it all up again to keep the continuity going, so the puzzle was never really getting anywhere as far as being completed. And then [director] Mike [Satrazemis] came out and said, “By the way, you know the puzzle on the table here, when you complete it, it looks like this.” And then he showed the picture of Sophia on the box of the puzzle. And it just took my breath away, to think this whole time that Sophia had been right there with us. It was kind of interesting. It’s just one of those little things directors will do. It was really cool.
EW: Do you think Carol did the right thing?
McBRIDE: I think there is no way to say it’s right or wrong. It’s unfortunate, but what she did had to be done in her mind. And Tyreese agreed. He understood these difficult decisions need to be made and there was no choice to do this if we were to keep going with Judith. It’s so tragic, and it’s by no fault of her own. That’s what is so horrible. But this world, she just wouldn’t do well in this world, and it would make it so difficult to survive with her for long. That’s no life for her, and it’s dangerous for other people. I think she just did what needed to be done.
EW: Let’s talk about that scene at the end where you confess to Tyreese about killing his girlfriend. You guys each have about 10,000 different emotions happening right there, so how do you calibrate and balance each of those?
McBRIDE: They’ve been through so much. I loved that scene, how quiet it was finally. Just the two of them with little Judith over in her crib. It was exhausting, it was an exhausting time. Unbelievable what the two had just been through. Unbelievable to them. And all the stuff going through Carol’s mind, there was a great deal of “I have to tell him, I have to tell him now.” For one, if we’re going to keep going together, there needs to be trust. Even more important than that, he needs to know what happened because Carol remembers not knowing what happened to Sophia. And she says, “That was the worst part. The worst part is not knowing.” And she can only imagine what was going on in Tyreese’s mind, imagining what might have gone down with Karen, and how it happened, and who did it eating away with him. And with that going on in his mind she knows they can’t keep moving if he’s continuously thinking about what may have happened. That needs to be done.
She also needs to hand him the truth because even in her own mind, it’s like I need somebody to tell me I am doing okay here. I have done horrible, horrible things, and I need him to tell me it’s okay in some way. To at least know that he accepts what needs to be done, or let me go. And also, it puts him in the same position that she was in — to make a very difficult choice. She gives it to him, and I think it’s beautiful, So there are a lot of reasons why she’s confessing, and it’s all lumped into one thing: accepting that things need to be done, you have a choice, trust, moving forward. If he is the guy I think he is after seeing everything that we’ve been through together, he’s not going to do it. He’s going to understand. But she doesn’t expect his forgiveness. That scene is loaded. It is so loaded.
EW: The thing about these episodes with the smaller groups is that a lot of you are getting to work with people you haven’t done a lot with before. What was it like getting to do all these scenes with Chad Coleman?
McBRIDE: I think it’s great. I think it’s great for people in our prison group to be interacting with other people. It’s changes certain parts of you and challenges aspects of one another, just like in real life, how like we bounce off of other people. So it’s really important for them to interact with one other and get to know themselves and get to know each other better and see how that changes the world view and the experiences they are going through.
EW: I know you have had to say goodbye to a lot of cast members along the way and I know it’s always difficult but, it’s usually adult cast members. What’s it like when you have two very young actresses like Brighton Sharbino (Lizzie) and Kyla Kennedy (Mika) going out like that and filming their last days on The Walking Dead set?
McBRIDE: It was very somber and bittersweet because we all knew the story was important, we all knew it was difficult, we all knew that we were doing our best work and these kids were so amazing and you want to have them around. They very quickly become part of that Walking Dead family. And they’re a joy to work with and so bright and to know this is their last day…I don’t know. What we really try to do is celebrate who they are and the work that they’ve done and the time that we were able to spend together. We celebrate who they are, but it’s heartbreaking to lose them. I know these kids are gong to go and do some great things. But it’s never easy.
For more ‘Walking Dead’ intel, follow Dalton on Twitter: