The Walking Dead Coverage: What’s Up With Carol?

Last week’s shocker was Carol’s admission that she killed Karen and David. The question is had they turned before she killed them or did she kill them while they were alive? The writers left the viewers with the impression that they were alive, and the cold possibility that life with the Walking Dead may have broken Carol’s spirit.

There is no question Carol’s misery in life started long before the Walkers came along. Her late husband humiliated, bullied and physically abused her without flinching. She was timid and fearful at every turn, much like so many are in the world of the Walking Dead. Ironically, for Carol, the rise of the Walkers brought with it her emancipation. Her good for nothing husband was bit, turned into a Walker, and was put down. Carol was free and she reveled in that freedom by volunteering to bash her husband’s head in before he turned into a Walker. In that scene, she turns his skull into pulp. She weeps with rage with each strike. However, her joy was short lived. The Fates or the writers of the show would not let Carol go pain-free; they delivered it to her in the death of her daughter, Sophia.

Sophia’s death happened in Season two, which was mostly dedicated to finding her when she missing after a herd of Walkers surprised Rick and his group. They tirelessly searched for her, only to find that she was in Herschel’s barn, and had been turned into a Walker. It is one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the show. The camera follows her out of the barn and into the sunlight. Her grunts are more pathetic than frightening. Everyone is frozen as she walks up to the group. Even though she was a Walker, she still had the look of a lost and innocent child, thanks to the brilliant work of the makeup team. No one had the courage to put her to death, except for Rick. Surely, there was no way for Carol to come back from such loss. That was the impression the writers left the audience with after the end of that scene, which was also the last episode of part one of Season two.

The one thing audiences can count on from the writers of this show is to never be sure of what is to come. In part two of Season two, Carol seemingly finds a way to make peace with Sophia’s death. She refuses to go to her funeral. She explains her decision to Daryl when she says, “That’s not my little girl. It’s some other…thing. My Sophia was lost in the woods. All this time, I thought. But she didn’t go hungry. She didn’t cry herself to sleep. She didn’t try to find her way back. My Sophia died a long, long time ago.” These are brave words from a woman who has become braver in each subsequent episode and season. Carol could have easily been overshadowed by characters like Andrea and Michonne. Instead, she has taken on Walkers with guns and knives. She has saved her life and the lives of others many times. In short, she has earned her keep and has become a character audiences cheer for. Scenes in which she playfully asks Daryl if he wants to have sex and calls him “Pookie” as he blushes show the great degree to which she is enjoying her freedom from her past.

Sadly, last week’s episode shows that Carol was never really at peace with Sophia’s death. The show’s new writer, Scott M. Gimple, channels one of Freud’s theories on how people deal with loss or mourning in Carol’s surprising decision to take the lives of those who may not have been Walkers. According to Freud people will reenact or revisit the traumatic experience of loss in hopes of getting a chance to undo the loss or the death of a loved one. They do this out of sorrow and irrational guilt for not being able to prevent the death of a loved one. Rick clearly senses this in Carol when he confronts her about the murders. He approaches her with tremendous understanding when he tells her that he knows she has sacrificed and done so much for everybody, especially the children. He asks her if there is anything she wouldn’t do for the people here. She replies, “No.” As Carol walks away Rick asks, “Carol, did you kill Karen and David?” She responds with no apology, “Yes.” Her reaction and responses to Rick’s questions would be no different if he had asked her about what she would do to save Sophia.

Carol’s interest in protecting the children has been made apparent in several scenes. She defies Rick and decides to take it upon herself to teach the kids to knife fight. She tells one of the young girls that she is weak when the little girl hesitates to use a knife on her father who was bit and was about to become a Walker. Eventually, that same little girl takes a knife from Carol and starts to carry it as protection. The camera focuses on Carol who has a look of pride and accomplishment. In arming the children she is arming Sophia and desperately hoping for a different outcome.

Her desperation is at its highest when she takes the lives of Karen and David and sets their bodies on fire. The people in the prison are Sophia for her. She is determined to do anything for them. She grabs at any chance to undo Sophia’s death and rid herself of the irrational guilt over her death. In a previous episode Daryl yells at Carol for not taking better care of Sophia and protecting her. She lets him vent his rage and even encourages him to free himself of his guilt. It appeared that his words did not ring true with her. It is coming to light that she did agree with him after all.

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