We”ve got a little over a month before AMC”s The Walking Dead returns. After a divisive Season 6 finale that left our own Alan Sepinwall throwing in the towel, it”ll be interesting to see if fans return to the show in the same droves it has enjoyed in the past. As a huge fan of Melissa McBride”s portrayal of Carol, I too was a less than pleased with choices The Walking Dead made in the back half of their sixth season. Leery as I am, my plan is still to give it a shot come the October premiere. But after reading what McBride has to say about the future of Carol, I”m more concerned than ever.
In a recent interview with ComicBook.com, McBride discussed Carol”s mindset at the end of last season and what her arc will look like in the foreseeable future. Ostensibly, she was answering a question about if Carol and Daryl will ever become real, but instead she set off a five-alarm warning siren in my head.
“[Carol”s] definitely got some healing to do in her mind and where she wants to be on this earth, or she wants to stick around or what.”
Did you catch that last part? “[If] she wants to stick around.” Anyone with even passing knowledge of the comic book incarnation of The Walking Dead who loves Carol should be worried right about now. McBride”s portrayal of Carol is a far cry from her comic counterpart. Where AMC”s Carol allowed her tragedies to temper her into a dystopian steel that can survive anything, the original character created by Robert Kirkman was not. Comic Carol was a shattered, neurotic woman who broke under the strain of the new world order. In the end, unable to cope, Carol committed suicide-by-zombie.
Image Credit: Image Comics
The taint of ‘executive meddling” has followed The Walking Dead since showrunner and creator Frank Darabont was removed in 2011. In my mind, Carol”s abrupt about-face in the latter half of the last season also smacks of executive notes. As Alan Sepinwall said, “[I]t”s such a sharp right turn for the show's best, most complicated character – and one whose journey from house mouse to predator was chronicled step by careful step over multiple seasons – that I feel like we needed some kind of transition from the one to the other, rather than having the questioning begin while Carol was off-screen.” No one here is opposed to Carol becoming more introspective about mass murder, but shoe-horning in a heel-turn that turns McBride into a weepy mouse of a woman with the snap of the proverbial finger is not a good look.
Now, couple the uneven writing and tone of the last season of The Walking Dead with the known issues of executive meddling and knowledge of Comic Carol”s fate, and you can see why McBride stating her character might be suicidal is cause for alarm. If AMC manages to take one woman”s rise as a phoenix from the ashes of abuse and trauma only to have her revert back, based on some misguided notion of staying true to the source material, I will scream.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on October 23, 2016 at 9/8c.