Sunday’s (March 16) episode of “The Walking Dead” was about as perfect an episode as the show has ever had. That can be owed in large part to the phenomenal performance of Melissa McBride, who has had an exceptionally amazing season this year.
It’s wonderful to look back and see how much McBride has developed Carol from Season 1. She’s one of the few original characters still on the show, but unlike Rick and Glenn, she was never a fan favorite. It’s taken McBride’s strong portrayal of Carol to turn her into someone who is arguably the most engaging and interesting character on the show.
“The Walking Dead” isn’t a series that gets much awards buzz, even though it’s increasingly critically acclaimed. It won an Emmy for special effects in 2012 and was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2011 for Best Drama Series, but the actors have never been recognized. This year, that mold should be broken: Melissa McBride deserves an Emmy — or at least a nomination — for her portrayal of Carol Peletier in “The Walking Dead” Season 4.
Season 1 was the show’s most critically acclaimed season (that’s the year for which it earned the Globe nom), but Season 4 is primed to surpass it. The series has taken ballsy moves this year, and they’ve paid off. From following up the Governor with a virus as the central evil, to bringing the Governor back and humanizing him for an episode before killing him, to separating all of the characters and sending them all on the run for eight episodes, “The Walking Dead” has shaken up its winning formula. And it’s been incredible in the process.
Carol was someone who was truly beloved after the end of Season 3. Fans were rooting for her and Daryl to get together, and she was a champion for how much she had evolved since her days as an abused wife and cowed mother. So for Season 4 to suddenly turn McBride’s character into someone who would murder her allies for the sake of the greater good and who was teaching children to kill was jarring. And that Darol (Caryl?) romance? Barely even addressed.
It’s not a move most television shows would make, and that’s what has made “The Walking Dead” Season 4 so refreshing and enjoyable to watch. McBride has handled the challenge phenomenally, even though she’s been absent for big chunks of this season.
Her performance in “The Grove” — which only had her acting opposite Chad L. Coleman, Brighton Sharbino and Kyla Kenedy anyway — shined in an already great episode. While some have complained in the past about standalone episodes like these being slow, “The Grove” deeply informed the psyche of the people still alive in the zombie apocalypse. And it was horrifying to see.
“The Walking Dead” might not have had any mainstream awards show love for its actors yet, but if McBride doesn’t at least get Emmy and Golden Globe nominations — and hopefully wins — for Best Supporting Actress, then it proves that the system is broken. She has been truly excellent this season, and here’s hoping that she continues being so … meaning please, please don’t kill her off on the show any time soon.