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The Walking Dead Postmortem: Melissa McBride Breaks Down Carol's Highs and Lows

Melissa McBride answers our burning questions about Carol's big episode

Liam Mathews

Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead was the biggest for Carol (Melissa McBride) so far this season. Carol baked cookies using beets as a sweetener, kissed nice Alexandrian Tobin (Jason Douglas), went on the raid of the Saviors' compound, where she clashed with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) over pregnant Maggie's involvement, and finished the episode by getting captured by the Saviors along with Maggie.

TVGuide.com broke down Carol's episode with Melissa McBride, from cookies to guilt and grief.

The Walking Dead: "Not Tomorrow Yet" recap

When Carol left the cookie on Sam's grave, did she do that because she feels guilty for his death?
Melissa McBride: I think she feels guilty that she couldn't have done more to help. She's sorry that he's gone. This episode for her was about feeling how all the losses have stacked up and the grief and the guilt she's been carrying from what she's done and what she knows she's going to have to continue to do. And then they're going to be fighting again. It was a symbolic gesture. Sam represented normalcy and innocence, and she was having a peaceful day in Alexandria and as far as we know had been for the weeks that we'd skipped. It's springtime, flowers are blooming, love is in the air. There's sort of a tinge of true happiness among the survivors. Carol just wanted to seize the moment as much as she can, because who knows when the next day like that is going to happen. If you can have days like that, why not? It takes her away from the horrors of what she's had to do.

Did you try the cookies at all?
McBride: [Laughs] Did I try one? I don't think I did. If I did, I don't recall.

Do you know if they were really made with beets?
McBride: I don't know what props did in order to make those cookies. They could have used beets, they could have used food coloring, I'm not sure. AMC should come up with a beet cookie recipe.

It would be a nice tie-in, I think.
McBride: I am hardly the baker or the cook Carol is. Hardly.

You mentioned "love is in the air." That was a nice twist for Carol, kissing Tobin. This is Carol's first post-apocalyptic relationship, correct?
McBride: I think over the last couple of weeks they've been getting to know each other a little better and when she runs into him that night, she's just come from a restless night in bed and she's just unsettled. That quote that Carol said to Sam, "The only way to keep from becoming a monster is to kill," that's where the internal conflict arises, where you feel like a monster when you're doing those things. It's just not human to have to take another human being's life. She has these feelings about herself, and in that moment with Tobin, she felt comfort in his words that couldn't have come from anyone else in the group because they're all too close. They've all seen each other do these horrible things, but this is someone who's seen her in a different way. It's comforting to her in that moment.

He can sort of make her feel normal.
McBride: Yeah, because he's removed from Carol's past to a degree. His experience with Carol is different. He sees her in a different way.

Jumping forward a little in the episode, Carol was the only person to object to Maggie's presence on the mission, which, obviously everyone should be objecting, this is terrible, Maggie shouldn't be here. What did Carol mean she said to Maggie, "You're supposed to be someone else"? It's kind of an ambiguous line.

McBride: I think what she meant was you're supposed to be someone else other than out here fighting. You should be the expectant mother back at Alexandria out of harm's way. That's a big question in this new world: Where is the safe place to be? Sure, it's up to Maggie, but how horrible to have this as your choice, staying back and keeping watch instead of blasting through the door to find the armory. Like, that's the the safer route? It's getting so much scarier, because there is no safer, just less dangerous.

What the hell is Maggie doing?

It's almost like Carol, in saying that, is failing to fully accept the situation they're in, where Maggie does have to be there. Rather than accepting the moment, she struggled against it.
McBride: That's the long-running theme, that this is what we have to do now to survive. As bizarre as it is, as dangerous as it is, this is the new normal. It's heartbreaking and scary, and it shouldn't have to be that way. She shouldn't be there, she shouldn't have to put herself in this position where she could get hurt, or take a life. She wants that for Maggie. Survive the moment. Don't be the fighter right now.

One thing I noticed in this episode, I thought it was interesting that Carol smokes in a way that you rarely see anyone smoke on TV, where she's very matter-of-fact about it. It doesn't really signify anything about her character. Usually it's to signify that this person is cool or this person is bad, but Carol just does it. Have you thought about this at all?
McBride: She's smoking just to smoke. She's punishing herself. It's an outward manifestation of feeling like a monster, of guilt, of grief.

Did she smoke before the apocalypse, or is this a habit she picked up after?
McBride: I don't know if it's a habit. She's smoking just to smoke.

I know you can't say much about what's coming up, but will we see Carol do something badass next episode?
McBride: I can say that you will see Carol and Maggie both fighting very hard to survive the Saviors.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.