‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5 Photo Preview: Melissa McBride on Carol’s ‘Dark’ Journey (EXCLUSIVE)

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The season five premiere for “The Walking Dead” is fast approaching, and AMC is whetting fans’ appetites with a series of atmospheric character images ahead of the show’s Oct. 12 return. Variety has an exclusive first look at the photo for Melissa McBride’s Carol Peletier, whose harrowing character arc proved to be one of season four’s most compelling — and gut-wrenching — storylines.

At San Diego Comic-Con in July, McBride admitted that the hit show has grown even more intense in its fifth year, telling reporters that the episodes she’d filmed thus far were “very physical, non-stop action” installments.

The actress also expressed gratitude to the fans and writers for embracing Carol’s painful journey, especially the “dark irony” of the bereaved mother having to kill another young girl after losing her own daughter. “It was an amazing storyline and I loved playing that deep, nasty, messy stuff,” she said. “One of the benefits of this kind of television series and this type of storytelling — taking your time with it and having the long-range view — is you get to really explore these characters; you have time for them to learn and grow and make mistakes.”

After Tyreese (Chad Coleman) learned that Carol was the one who killed his girlfriend Karen at the prison, many have wondered how their relationship might evolve in season five, but Coleman remained tight-lipped at Comic-Con — perhaps because “TWD” creator Robert Kirkman was sitting beside him. “You find us right where we were,” Coleman teased of the characters’ dynamic. “There’s no neat little bow wrapped up to the world we’re living in — it’s complicated; it’s give and take, it’s push and pull.”

Despite the fact that Carol and Daryl (Norman Reedus) spent much of season four separated, some fans are still rooting for a romantic development between the pair — that is, if they aren’t rooting for Daryl to romance Beth (Emily Kinney) instead. “I wonder how much the writers pay attention to that and the producers pay attention to that, because I, of course, get inundated with that on an insane level,” Reedus admitted.

Executive producer Greg Nicotero assured him that the writers don’t allow fan reaction to sway their storytelling. “Having Daryl and Beth be partnered together [in season four]… it’s interesting, because I get to see all the edits from the director’s cut onward, and I loved the scene they did in the kitchen where the two of them were talking, and I got the sense that Daryl is starting to kind of fall in love with Beth a little bit,” he observed.

Reedus had a somewhat different interpretation, revealing, “This is how I took it during it: If Daryl had feelings for Beth, he didn’t understand them … he’s like a child, like ‘I don’t know what this means.’ But it was more ‘intimate’ than ‘a coupling.'”

“No, which is what made it effective — when you listen to her playing the piano, and you’re just standing there watching her, you feel like ‘this might be the last living person I ever see.’ So I thought that was a really great connection,” Nicotero noted. “And a lot of it wasn’t in the script; the script was not like, ‘okay, so Beth and Daryl are going to totally hook up.’ But when I watched the episode I felt like, ‘oh, I kind of wanted that,’ which was what he brings to it and what Emily [Kinney] brought to it. Then what’s great about it is that, of course, it all blows up.”

But Reedus doesn’t have any intention of choosing between his potential paramours. “I’m hoping for a threesome this season,” he quipped. “Me and Beth and Carol — the trifecta!”

As for what fans can expect from this season as a whole, Kirkman promised a side of the show that viewers have never seen before. “We’re doing season five, do you really want to see another season of people just surviving and fighting zombies? That’s not what we want to do. I’m really proud of the show for the fact that it is so successful, but never at any point has anyone at any level of this operation said ‘no, that’s working, don’t change it,'” he said. “We’re always taking risks and we’re always taking chances and trying to move forward and do cool stuff. Yes, there are going to be episodes that are going to be vastly different. There are times when you’re going to be watching season 5 going ‘what is this show? This is crazy, I cannot believe they’re doing this.’ But that’s what we’re after — that’s what keeps people engaged and excited and hopefully keeps people watching. And if not, we’ll just have them kill zombies again. If it’s working, we’re not gonna break it.”

“The Walking Dead” season five premieres Sunday, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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  1. Tim says:

    It is hilarious that carol fans get this upset over the mention of beth…her arc will be huge this season. she deserves the spotlight and you all are being vicious and cruel. she is not a teenager and daryl isn’t playing 45..that argument is so old and totally offensive. I think I read some where that daryl was playing in his late 20’s..the point is you all cannot handle what GN said and then you try to disassociate what daryl said from what greg said when they were saying the SAME THING. He fell in love with beth. She might die but that’s not the point…HE DOESN’T LOVE CAROL. rofl just deal with it..

    • Barb says:

      Vicious and cruel? No, those are just excuses to use in stupid, silly shipping war. Beth is just a character in a story, on TV. Vicious and cruel comes in the form of attacking the actress portraying the character we see on TV, because some feel the writers are jeopardizing their idea of romance. That’s when it becomes an obsession.

    • AnneS says:

      People are upset because they were pulled in to read an article about Carol, and it veers into a weird rehash of daryl/beth discussion. If the article’s headline says its about carol, it should be about her.

      And you are 100% incorrect about beth’s age – she is a teenager. 18, at the very oldest. This is not an opinion, its based on what EK has said in recent interviews, and based on the fact that season 4 was a few months after season 3, where she tells axel (who is probably daryls age and painted as a creep for showing interest in her) she is 17.

      I’m curious what you find offensive about people thinking daryl is 45. I have no idea how old he might be, but as a 29 year old, I would have a very hard time believing he’s within a decade of years of me. He’s handsome, but looks very much like a middle age guy.

      I also agree 100% daryl and carol will not be a couple. But neither will beth and daryl.

      • dma says:

        Daryl is of undetermined age. Even Reedus confirmed that in an interview, Beth is now 18 so let’s drop the age argument. The reason why people cringed about Axel is because he was coming on direct and strong.. Daryl has never come on to Beth. He’s just plain awkward around her and that’s what makes this match so riveting.

  2. Cynthia Teusch says:

    Maybe Daryl, Carol and Beth will be the New “Sister Wives” type arrangement??

    • Cynthia Teusch says:

      ok, I reply to my own comment, sorry I said that to some extent, it was only an idea, all 3 are Great actors, and I hope they all Live!!! Hard to think of TWD without them!

  3. A says:

    I thought a basic tenet of journalism was for the content of an article to match its headline. Here are a few topics that could have been discussed in this piece:

    -Speculation that Carol might save the group in the season premiere based on shots from the trailer showing her sneaking into Terminus

    -Ways Rick’s journey in season 4 paralleled Carol’s, as he discovered he needed to embrace brutality to protect his family

    -How Carol will reintegrate back into the group after being banished

    -If Carol will be particularly motivated to find Beth after losing Lizzie and Mika

    -Whether or not Carol will be able to recover emotionally from killing a child

    -How Carol progressed from a victim of spousal abuse in season 1 to the only original female survivor remaining in seasons 4 and 5.

    -Leadership skills that Carol has demonstrated and whether she and Rick will be able to coexist peacefully without one becoming subservient to the other

    -How Carol has autonomously made difficult choices for the good of the group without looking to male figures for validation, making her one of the most interesting feminist figures currently on TV

    -That Carol was supposed to be killed off in season 3, that her original counterpart died early in the comics, and how Melissa McBride singlehandedly saved and shaped the character with such raw and real performances that Andrew Lincoln says she is the best actor he has ever worked with

    This article, supposedly about Carol’s development and Melissa McBride’s portrayal, instead chose to focus primarily on who Daryl Dixon might or might not have sex with. Variety is an esteemed industry publication, not an entertainment and celebrity gossip blog. The show, the fans, and Variety itself all deserve better than this.

    • Artie James says:

      Carol isn’t a feminist or her actions dont make her a feminist since many people man or woman would have done what she did…..carol is just someone who did what had to be done to make sure the people survived & I think some of carol will rub off on rick that killing people to save the people they love is something that needs to be done….
      I hope that carol doesn’t die because she & sahsa are the only two women who can handle themselves….

  4. Pamela says:

    When I click on an article that tells me it’s about MMB or Carol, it better be about her and not morphed into a regurgitated rehash of all the snippets taken out of context about Daryl and a barely legal teenager he’s know since she was 16. Inferring that it is romantic is disgusting and an insult to the organic relationship Daryl had with an age appropriate female. To be honest, if Daryl dies, I won’t care, but if Carol dies, I’ll stop watching the show and find a show that appreciates an older woman that goes against Hollywood stereotypes and acts circles around the young, cute wanna be ingenues…

  5. Everly says:

    Everyone else has said it better than I could. Don’t title an article to suggest it being about an actor or character, and then have to dissolve into mindless drivel about Daryl and who he might get with. Carol deserves more, and an actress of McBride’s caliber definitely deserves more. Enough already.

  6. Nzc says:

    nice what they said about MMB but I wish they would stop using other actors to try get people interested in Beth. Nice trolling article pulling in MMB and NR fan’s to promote EK failing again to keep Beth fans interested. To bad its old old old CC trolling.

    Beautiful photo of MMB.

    To bad this isn’t a article about MMB, this site must be slow on the uptake, maybe take a look at the photos released.

    Boring old EK she’s already dead, not to mention a teenager. Trying to pair a 17-18year old (Beth) with a old 45+year old man is disturbing , not to mention turned fan’s of actual beth off her

  7. Tina says:

    Lady your article sucks, I came here to read about Carol

  8. Alice says:

    I came here to read stuff about Carol, not Bethyl bullshit.

  9. Helena says:

    How did 95% of this article have to do with Carol’s Dark Journey? Here’s a newsflash – Carol is great character, independent of Daryl, Norman Reedus, and the shipping that swirls around his character. I was actually interested in finding out more about Carol’s possible storyline in Season 5 and got none that here. SMH

  10. whowhatsitwhich says:

    Seeing Carol’s journey has been the biggest reason why I continue to be a fan of the show. It’s refreshing to see a woman come into her own and have that storyline be the defining moment of the season.But then you have to bring it down by shoving all that aside in favor of a nonexistent triangle. I love Daryl. I adore Carol. I’m interested to see Beth get a chance to grow and evolve. Reducing the plot to a ‘who will he choose’ trope is a disservice to the story, the fans, and the characters. We expect more because we know the show is capable of delivering stunning moments. We want that. We’re begging for it. Don’t let us down. If Iwanted a triangle, I’d watch Twilight.

  11. Poppy says:

    So sick of Daryl stuff. Norman Reedus is at best a mediocre actor who is milking the fame as much as possible. Overhyped and overexposed. Enough now.

  12. Wentworth says:

    Really this is journalism copying and pasting old comments from other articles from months ago really.
    Carol is amazing character played by one of the last remaining good actors on the show and you reported absolutely nothing.

    The stuff with the Daryl & the teenager is just disgusting and perverted. No Zane person wants to see that creepy wrong stuff on screen other than others creeps. But from creepy GN comments & NR comments that creepy shit won’t be happening.

  13. krystal says:

    Carol is my favorite character and i’m hoping for her exiciting story

  14. leasrecovery says:

    Time will tell, we have days left and I, for one, cannot wait to see what unfolds this season. It sounds really exciting regardless of who Daryl winds up with, or not with.

  15. Capera says:

    Nice pic, but you shouldn’t talk about Barfyl crap after luring us Caryl/Carol fans into reading your post. Besides, Caryl is going to be canon, so why trying to revive the flame? I think everyone knows the conclusion to this dumb shipping war now.

  16. Honestly, I am a bit peeved at your classic bait and switch. Why lure fans of Melissa/Carol in only to have it change midstream and turn into something to do with Beth/Daryl and have comments from Norman & Greg? I came here under the impression that I was going to get an exclusive article about Carol/Melissa. i WAS WRONG. And i think it’s sloppy reporting to have ‘exclusive’ in the title then have shipping propaganda in the article. Beth and Daryl’s journey had nothing whatsoever to do with Carol’s arc in season four. And your reporting should have reflected that by leaving the pair of them out of it entirely. Gesh.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    You really could have saved your readers some time and ended the article after the third paragraph Laura. Classic bait and switch- think you’re going to read an article about one of the awesome woman of The Walking Dead then you get dragged into the shipping crap. Is that all you think women are good for on this show, being good enough to attract the badass redneck? This article wasn’t a complete loss, but very disappointing.

    • Quinten123 says:

      On the plus side, it’s funny that people are so tired of hearing about Daryl’s nonexistent love life that carols journey has to be used in the title to trick people into reading about him. Because I guarantee you I wouldn’t have read this article if I thought it was going to be about him

      • Arielle says:

        This thing won’t let me “like” your comment or something. I agree 100% everyone is done with that. Do we need another article about how the Bethyl ship was misreading of the scene and NR feels so persecuted cause of shipping when he is the first one to troll it. GN ships it or whatever. Is a thing on the internet or whatever who cares? Interview other person if all they talk about when it comes to Daryl is shipping. Interviews about things actually happening on the show.

  18. Arielle says:

    What did I just read? Sorry the title mentions Carol’s journey and it has two pics of her and less than 50% of the article is actually about Carol the rest is GN’s creppy “shipping” of a pairing between a middle aged man a girl who is 18 for like 2 weeks. A pairing he confirmed isn’t romantic at all. It’s sexist to assume Barfyl happening or not is so extremely relevant to Carol’s journey you need to dedicate half of the article about it to debunking it or whatever. Nice to know the writers won’t be swayed when it comes to storytelling cause Barfyl only makes sense for a smal violent cult on the internet. Please writers articles that don’t revolve around who’s Daryl boning. Please. Write about Gareth or Sasha or Bob or Rick or Carl I don’t care media,just start writing interesting things,please.

  19. S says:

    Beautiful photo of MMB, she looks more and more gorgeous every season. However, why the hell has this article turned to the subject of Daryl and Beth??? Who gives a damn?? I came here for Carol!!I’m a Caryl supporter but honestly I sometimes think NR and his incessant trolling of all shipping this makes a destructive impact on my view of Daryl’s character….this show is not about shipping and I love Carol’s character more than any other in the show. It really annoys me that Daryl has become the “Cash Cow” for this show whilst his character has become predictable, lacking in development and is just used to try and please a part of the audience AKA crazy fangirls who love NR’s arms. Moreover, this Bethyl thing is simply horrifying to anyone with an ounce of sanity in them; it’s morally disgusting and also unfair of NR/Nicotero to troll it for media attention when it’s supporters are inevitably going to be disapointed; I am glad TPTB choose not to say too much about Caryl because romantic or not, the relationship is just beautiful and does not need any confirmation; it’s just there on the screen to be admired by all.
    Back on point, I cannot wait to see Carol this season!! She is played by a wonderful actress, by far the best on this show, and I hope TPTB and AMC can recognise what amazing things can be done with her in the future. DO NOT KILL HER OFF TPTB!! If YOU DO YOU ARE TOTAL FOOLS!! I would really like Carol to perhaps get the leadership/hilltop story; if she has to be taken away from the show then all I can ask is that they don’t kill her and allow her to simply move onto other things.I honestly don’t think I could cope with her death.
    As for this season I have a feeling we will get to see Carol having an internal battle with her emotions after the events of S4, and the fact she has not yet had a chance to grieve for Sophia; I suspect on the exterior she will try and be tough/closed off and afraid to get too close to anyone, whereas on the inside she’ll probably be an emotional wreck….we’ll see. Carol <3

    • Nzc says:

      Actually GN comfirmed Daryl was with Beth for 3 days so this article is beyond stupid. Did someone actually proof read this work before releasing it. I think not. All this information is everywhere.

      Not to mention all the expense they have spent promoting Caryl in hard copy and actual promo stuff.

  20. Effy Shay says:

    Bethyl is happening deal with it! I loved last season less Carol hopefully that sticks

  21. Quinten123 says:

    Ugh, who cares whether Daryl bumps the babysitter? More Carol, please!

  22. Leigh says:

    The picture and the article title lead the reader to believe that this will be a Carol-centric article, focusing on an interview with Melissa McBride. It’s frankly upsetting to start with that expectation and get one quote before we’re back to the “Who will Daryl choose?” discussion. There are a thousand aspects of Carol’s character that have nothing to do with Daryl, and it would be great to read about even three of them. Melissa McBride has made Carol one of the most fascinating women currently on tv. Let’s talk about her for a minute.

  23. C says:

    I’m definitely a shipper, but I thought this was going to be an article about Carol and Melissa McBride. Why on earth is half of it just dredging up old quotes about the ships? Carol is way more interesting than that, and there are endless things about her to discuss. It would be nice if we could talk about the female characters on this show to any degree without describing at length how they relate to Daryl Dixon.

  24. David says:

    Without a doubt the most complex/conflicted character on the show. I’m really hoping these writers don’t make the dick move of killing her off anytime soon when she’s just now starting to get the attention she deserves. I’d love seeing her eventually become a full-fledged leader of another community (comic readers know what I’m talking about).

  25. K Anton says:

    Carol is one of the greatest female characters currently on TV. A lot of that credit goes to Melissa McBride for her compelling portrayal. I can’t wait until Season 5 starts!

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