The character Carol Peletier is the last living member of her immediate family and the last living woman from the original Atlanta group of survivors. A former victim of domestic abuse, Carol was devastated in season two when her daughter Sophia became one of the undead.
Carol is portrayed as a resilient and caring woman, but her character takes a turn toward the dark side in season four. She possesses no sympathy for the undead, and shows no remorse when her murders of Karen and David do not stop the spread of the infection.
The character once again shocked audiences on Sunday by shooting her "adopted" daughter Lizzie in the head. The girl had stabbed and killed her sister Mika so that she would come back to life as one of the undead. "We can't sleep with her and Judith under the same roof," Carol told Tyreese before committing the deed. "She can't be around other people."
McBride spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the decision and said the turn of events was not completely unexpected.
"[Showrunner Scott Gimple] said that Carol would be required to do something very difficult... I had no idea," the actress said. "When I did read the episode and was going along and seeing how messed up Lizzie was... it was devastating and heartbreaking. Period."
"I figure they know what they're doing," McBride said of the show's producers. The actress conveyed her trust in spite of the dark decision, "It was obviously so heavy and I just had to remember that there is this source material...and that's what the show is."
McBride said "the mental fragility and mindset and different perspectives of children" had not yet been explored on the show, adding that "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."
The actress expressed that Carol's decision was "unfortunate," but said it is hard to judge her wholly as a character by it. "I think there is no way to say it's right or wrong," McBride said. "What she did had to be done in her mind. And Tyreese agreed. He understood these difficult decisions need to be made... It's so tragic and it's by no fault of her own. That's what is so horrible."
McBride also commented on Carol's confession to Tyreese at the end of the episode. The infected woman, Karen, whom Carol killed was Tyreese's girlfriend.
"They've been through so much. I loved that scene... there needs to be trust," the actress said. "He needs to know what happened."
"There are a lot of reasons why she's confessing," McBride continued. "It's all lumped into one thing: accepting that things need to be done, you have a choice, trust, moving forward... He's going to understand. But she doesn't expect his forgiveness."
Read the full interview with Melissa McBride here. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.