I have to be candid with you all. I was EXTREMELY shocked that Rick decided to banish Carol from the prison during the latter moments of last night's episode ("Indifference") of The Walking Dead. It was something that I never saw coming. I actually wrote an article about a week ago hypothesizing that Rick was not going to punish Carol for killing Karen and David during the episode, "Infected." I did not think that Rick would punish Carol because of the strong bond they had formed throughout the entire show up until last night. But evidently, that bond has seemingly shattered at this point in the show. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the group in the prison react to what has transpired if/when Rick decides to share what he knows and what he decided to do with her.
Let's say, hypothetically speaking, that Rick does indeed tell the entire group everything. What will happen as a result? Will they all agree with his decision? Or, will his decision polarize the group? I actually believe that the latter scenario is much more likely to occur because it could add another element of intrigue to the show, and to its fans. Both actor Andrew Lincoln (a.k.a. Rick) and actress Melissa McBride (a.k.a. Carol) talked about why they believe their respective characters did what was best in their separate interviews with Talking Dead host, Chris Hardwick.
Obviously, a bunch of different scenarios can occur from here on out. For one thing, I do not believe at all that we've seen the last of Carol. I think that she will be back very soon, and she'll mostly likely end up reappearing at the prison. Because of how strong and skilled she has become over the past three-plus seasons, she will find a way to stay alive and well. Also, I will opine that a decision like the one Rick made could potentially motivate him to gain back his leadership position within the prison group. He may be starting to realize that his leadership abilities are much more needed than he may think. If he does indeed re-emerge as the leader of the prison, he will probably not run a Ricktatorship like in season three, noticing that it is important to make decisions as a group. And ultimately, he will decide to share with everyone what he knows because I do not think that he will want to lie about this, or keep it a secret for too long.
One person that may cause hesitation on Rick's part to reveal all of this to is Tyreese. Remember that during the first scene of last week's episode, "Isolation," Tyreese specifically commanded Rick to bring Karen and David's assailant to him. I have little doubt in my mind that Tyreese might have killed Carol had Rick decided to keep her at the prison, and confess to Tyreese what Carol had done. So if Rick does tell Tyreese, then the question I have going forward is: will it be enough for Tyreese that the killer is no longer allowed at the prison? Personally, I think that he might end up being one of the many members of the prison group that will disagree with Carol's banishment, knowing that his thoughts of vengeance have not dissipated much at this point.
Finally, I will try to be neutral to the question I posted as the title to this article and psychoanalyze both characters. Obviously, they both believe they did what was best for the whole group. But also, they may have effectively divided the group between Team Rick and Team Carol.
For those on Team Rick:
From Rick's perspective, he probably had to banish Carol. But he did not make that decision for the whole group. Instead, he did it for himself, as he himself stated to Carol last night. He also said that if the prison group were to be eradicated, save for Rick, his two children, and Carol, that he would not trust her to be around them. In fact, he even opined that no one at the prison now would trust her after they learn that it was her who killed Karen and David. Rick then pointed out to Carol that Tyreese will try to kill her when he finds out, but Carol asserted that she could handle him.
But, there is an underlying reason for which I think swayed Rick further. He has been realizing how assertive and vocal she's becoming. During the premiere episode, "30 Days Without an Accident," we saw Carol teaching the children how to wield and use knives safely. When Carl caught her doing that, Carol tried to convince him not to tell his father about it, or anyone else for that matter. So basically, she was asking Carl to lie to Rick, something that most obviously upset Rick when Carl snitched on Carol. With all these hard decision she was making, could Rick have felt threatened by her? This at first does not seem valid because Rick is not the leader anymore, so it's not like she is trying to dethrone him. But when Rick eventually resumes his leadership role, Carol could end up being a nuisance to him. And if he allowed her to stay at the prison, there could be some other members of the prison who probably would have not only questioned Rick's decision to keep Carol at the prison, but also his leadership capabilities. So banishing Carol could have been a strategic decision for him as well. I could be wrong about that, of course.
Moreover, there were several minor cues during last night's episode that may have further justified Rick's decision, at least in his mind. When Rick and Carol met Sam and Ana while on a run for food supplies, Rick decided to allow the latter two to join the prison group. Unfortunately, Ana had been killed moments later by walkers, as Rick and Carol not only noticed her severed leg, but witnessed her being devoured by walkers when they were looking for supplies. When they went back to the house in which Sam was supposed to wait for them in, he was nowhere to be found. Rick wanted to wait a bit longer for Sam to show up, but Carol insisted that they leave him behind because he was taking too long. Ultimately, Carol's choice ended up being the final decision, even though it evidently bothered Rick by the facial expression he displayed.
Another instance that might have served as a cue was when Carol was telling Rick how she had always been one to take orders from her abusive husband, Ed Peletier, rather than make decisions for herself. During that discussion, Rick noticed that Carol made a reference to her deceased daughter, Sophia, but she did not explicitly utter her name. Rick questioned Carol about that, but she merely replied by saying that Sophia was dead, and that it was basically pointless to use the name. This, of course, reminds us of how strong Carol is becoming with each episode, and how unwilling she is to let her emotions overwhelm her judgments, even if it means forgetting about Sophia.
Again, this all led to Rick disallowing Carol to live at the prison any longer. It seems, at the very least, kind of understandable that Rick made that choice. To his credit, he attempted to make the split slightly amicable when he gave Carol some supplies to take with her, and when he asserted to her that she would do well on her own. Carol was becoming undoubtedly strong, but was it turning her into a cold-blooded, non-empathetic, killer? This may very well have been on Rick's mind for the entirety of their run for food. We'll have to see now what the rest of the group have to say about this. I'm sure Tyreese, Daryl, and perhaps Hershel may be some of the many who may be discouraged by Rick.
For those on Team Carol:
Did Carol really have to kill Karen and David? This was a question posed by Rick to Carol during "Indifference," to which Carol answered by saying that she could have saved lives by preventing the infection from spreading. From her perspective, she had Lizzie and Mika's safety in mind when she killed them. She told Lizzie during the first few minutes of "Indifference" that she has to be strong in order to survive. Carol even went so far as to advise her not to be afraid to kill when necessary. And having heard of and/or witnessed the many tragedies that unfolded during "Infected" when Patrick turned and started the killing spree, Carol, in her opinion, killed Karen and David for the greater good. Like she said last night, she does not like what she did, but she accepts it, and expected Rick to do the same.
Furthermore, I'm not sure if any of you noted this or not, but Carol did not seem to plead her case too vehemently to Rick when he was exiling her. It's not like she kneeled down and begged him to change his mind. She surely has plenty of confidence in her own abilities and skills, so much so that she believes she can survive on her own without having to rely on anyone. However, Carol was not too content with Rick either. She was telling him last night that she wanted him to go back to being a leader and making hard choices for the good of the group. As she stated metaphorically, "you can be a farmer, you can't just be a farmer." Carol expected Rick to understand that what she did was the best thing for the group. As a result, being forced to leave him was not really a big deal for her, probably. Being forced to leave Lizzie and Mika behind, on the contrary, is a big deal for her. And this is one reason why I think she'll return very soon. I would not be surprised if she returned to the prison when all hell is breaking loose in some way, whether it be walkers storming the prison, or The Governor and his henchmen unleashing their fury In that case, she'll show just how good she really is, and how absurd and counterproductive Rick's decision to banish her probably was, by helping save many lives when Rick could not.
Overall, there are pros and cons to Carol's banishment. It may be a bit more understandable from Rick's point of view. But in an apocalyptic world, Carol's decision-making, albeit very questionable and inhumane, may be the way to survive. Now it's time for you all to sound off in the "Comments" section below. Are you on Team Rick or Team Carol? And, what are you reasons for choosing one side, or the other?