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‘The Walking Dead’ Character Spotlight: Carol Peletier

I feel as though Carol is one of those characters on The Walking Dead that does not get talked about enough. I’m not quite sure as to why. I absolutely love her character, and I think she has come a very long way from where we first saw her in Season One. Up until recently, she has been pretty underestimated. Maybe that’s why I like her
so much. There’s always been more to Carol than what meets the eye. Also, she’s gone from a fragile flower to a major badass. Yes, she’s going through this  
horrible…downward spiral, but she is still amazing, nonetheless.

When Carol first appeared to us in The Walking Dead, she seemed nothing more than your  average, everyday zombie apocalypse survivor. She had a daughter, Sophia, a husband, Ed, and typically stuck to her duties of laundry and gathering food. I will never forget that scene when Shane pretty much beats Ed to a pulp. Carol
cradled him in her arms, and began to apologize to him in between sobs. Hmm… so she has this cruel and abusive husband, yet no matter how hard he beats her (literally and metaphorically), she does not want to see harm come to him.

Then, there was a sudden ‘shift’ in her character. When the encampment was attacked by a horde of  walkers, Ed fell victim to their raid. Daryl, himself, was prepared to impale Ed’s head with an axe to prevent reanimation. Carol stopped him, stating that she would do it, as he was her husband. She swung at Ed’s bloody body several
times, releasing years of contained anger and rage. I was amazed. We had gone from seeing this woman who you wouldn’t even think knew how to hold an axe to brutally just beating her abusive husband’s corpse to a pulp.

In season two, Carol was still seemingly a ‘background’ character. After her daughter Sophia went missing, she spiraled into guilt. She felt as though she failed in protecting her. She felt as though  she wasn’t useful or skilled
enough to track her down herself, so instead, she attempted to do other things to make herself feel useful. Under Ed’s thumb, she felt as though being a ‘wife’ or doing house-keeping duties was all she was really good for. She tried cooking for Hershel and his family, doing the group’s laundry, and cleaning. All while struggling with the guilt that was haunting her, questioning who is she without Sophia in her life?

After it was discovered that Sophia had fallen victim to the walkers, she realized that only the strongest survived in this world. She began to stand up for herself and gained more independence, while strengthening her bonds with the group. She even became more ‘quirky’, making sly jokes.

Image: AMC
Image: AMC

By Season Three, we started to see Carol’s role become increasingly more important. She helped Rick with Judith,
showing that she still had that motherly side to her. She also stood up for herself against Merle, telling him not to underestimate her. In the eyes of the survivors, she was no longer a scared housewife. She was a true survivor, and she was no longer afraid. Despite her growing taste for being fearless, she managed to maintain her sense of nurturing.

However, Carol’s growing, pragmatic way of thinking eventually got her into the weeds with Rick. After she showed little remorse over killing two sick members of the group in an attempt to prevent a deadly disease from spreading, claiming that it was necessary, Rick exiled her. She doesn’t fight Rick on his decision. She believes
it was a justified decision and she didn’t hold it against Rick. She knew that he did what he felt he had to protect his group, just like she felt as though she had to do what she did.

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

One scene I will never forget is when Carol killed Lizzie. After Lizzie’s psychotic tendencies escalated to her killing her younger sister, Mika, Carol felt it was necessary to protect herself and her group, especially Judith.

This scene had me in complete and utter shock. Yes, Carol was absolutely right in protecting herself and her group from the psychotic monster that Lizzie was becoming… but still, the shock was real. This scene proved that Carol had finally grasped a full understanding that you cannot question yourself for even a moment if you think a certain action will assist in your survival. Could you imagine what could have happened if Carol allowed Lizzie to live? We probably wouldn’t have had a Carol, or at least definitely not a Judith.

Look at the flowers, Lizzie…

I think my favorite moment with Carol was in the  fifth season. Her resourceful and cunning abilities were exemplified when she wiped out the compound, Terminus, where Rick and the other survivors were held hostage by cannibals. Literally, they were all on their knees about to be slaughtered. She saved them all from a potential, horrific death. She eventually decided to join Rick’s group of survivors once more.

She eventually became a very reliable confidant to Rick, offering him objective and intelligent advice on future approaches. When they eventually reach Alexandria, she was so cunning that she convinced the whole town that she was a meek and shy lady. Well… at least for a good while. There were times when she was occasionally shown to be extremely cold, such as the time when Sam stumbled upon her in the gun gallery. She threatened to tie Sam up and leave him for the walkers if he alerted anyone of her  ‘explorations’.

Jeez, talk about not being willing to take a chance when it comes to dealing with threats! Oh, and just putting this out there. If Carol brings you cookies or a casserole, make sure it’s a genuine gesture and not a threat. Just ask Pete.

Image: AMC
Image: AMC

Towards the second half of Season Six, we slowly see Carol start to break. The guilt of killing finally started to weigh on her. She wants to believe just as Morgan does, but her inner self just continues to struggle with it. She is aware that there are times where the elimination of a human threat is necessary, but at the same time she feels as though she is not capable of following through with that anymore. She attempts to reconnect with her ‘nurturing’ self, by assisting Maggie through her pregnancy and keeping her out of harm’s way.

However, no matter  how hard Carol tried to stick specifically to being a ‘mother’ and a ‘nurturer’, she realized it was impossible. When she and Maggie are kidnapped by a group of Saviors, Carol found herself very capable of
murder again. After taking out a large group of Saviors, she coldly executed a member that slashed Maggie in
the stomach with a knife.

After this, Carol chose to exile herself from her group, claiming she can no longer kill any more ‘human threats’. In the season six finale, Carol is seen facing off with a surviving Savior. It would seem as though she is happy to die, not even  bothering to fight him back as he raises his gun to kill her. Thankfully, Morgan discovered her, and
wound up killing the Savior. Carol begged Morgan to let her go, unable to deal with her guilt any longer. Morgan refuses, saying: “You’re going to come back from this,”

Carol Season 7

While I understand guilt, I really hope that Carol finds peace and comes back to us. I feel as though her character has become so developed that we need her in the Dead universe. Sure, she is going through some hardships right now… but like we haven’t seen something like that before? I hope we don’t lose Carol along the way. Her character really is amazing, and I can only imagine the toll her death would have on the group. Especially for
Daryl and Rick.

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