“The Walking Dead“-heads are gearing up for the back eight episodes of Season 3 now that the top-rated, zombie drama is returning to AMC on Sunday, Feb. 10. So XfinityTV.com attended an industry event where the producers and the cast gathered at the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences for a talkfest about Season 3 to date.
“I am really excited for these episodes to air because there is always stuff that I can’t talk about, so every time the episodes air, there are more things that people are aware of,” creator/executive producer Robert Kirkman, who is also the creator of the comic book, said. “I know there is a lot of really awesome stuff coming up and a little bit of resolution for the things that are hanging out there.”
Joining Kirkman on stage were executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, co-executive producer Greg Nicotero, and cast members Andrew Lincoln (Rick), Norman Reedus (Daryl), Laurie Holden (Andrea), Lauren Cohan (Maggie), Steven Yeun (Glenn), Danai Gurira (Michonne), and David Morrissey (The Governor). The event was moderated by Chris Hardwick, host of “Talking Dead.” Noticeably absent was Season 3 showrunner Glen Mazzara, as was the newly named Season 4 showrunner Scott Gimple.
Hardwick chose his questions carefully to keep the evening on a spoiler-free track, but the cast did discuss their characters and give an idea of what lies ahead for them in the back eight. Check it out:
Despite her discovery that the Governor kept his zombie daughter in a closet in his living quarters and his fish tank full of Walker heads, Andrea is still clinging to the idea that she has found love. After living out in the wild in the 7 months or so between the end of Season 2 and the beginning of Season 3, Andrea fell in love with the idea that Woodbury could provide some normalcy in her life, so she is not willing to easily relinquish the fantasy. Besides, she doesn’t know what we know!
“It is not as if she chose the Governor over Michonne,” Holden says. “She chose a life, a community. Is he charismatic and wonderful? Yes. So far he hasn’t shown himself to be a brute. There are a lot of things he has done that she can understand. The fact that he had a zombie daughter in his closet, well… I sat next to my dead sister for two days waiting for her to turn, so the rules have changed. Andrea is an alpha female and I think she is drawn to strong men, whether they happen to be crazy or not… that is the unfortunate part.”
Andrea’s journey from Season 1 has most been affected by the loss of her sister Amy, followed by the death of Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn). Then she found a best friend in Michonne, who deserted her — she felt — when Michonne departed Woodbury. This added to Andrea’s sadness and her desire to cling to the comforts afforded by the town.
But that could change when “The Walking Dead returns. Holden says, ” I think she really believed that she could have romantic love — and it was a lie. She doesn’t know it yet, but it is unfolding.” Then she adds, “You are going to see in the second part of the season that she does rise to the best of her ability and does show the strength that people know — the Andrea that everyone fell in love with in the comic books.”
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The Governor is a little more human than the one in the comic book, thanks to the writing and also to Morrissey’s performance.
In the comic books, the Governor commits evil deeds from the moment he is introduced, but in the TV series, we saw a little more of what made him the way he is when we met his Walker daughter.
As for the tank full of Walker heads, which everyone wanted to talk about, Morrissey explains, “He is seeing the enemy. He knows if those heads are in the tank, and he is watching it, he is alive. He is using it as fuel. If they are dead, he is alive. That is the bottom line. It is all about psychologically ramping yourself up to know that you are better than your enemy. Know your enemy and you can beat your enemy.”
But Michonne did quite the number on the Governor in the midseason finale. Not only did she stab him in the eye, partially blinding him in her attempt to escape, but she killed his Walker daughter. It begs the question: With the death of his daughter, did he lose his humanity?
“That is what the second half of the season will explore,” Morrissey says. “He was in a dark place when we left. He is full of anger, he is closing down and there is a nihilistic attitude going on inside him. Is there enough of him left to listen to people with reason? Andrea and Milton [Dallas Roberts] — can they reason with him? These two communities seem to be on a collision course, but will there be diplomacy at play within the two communities as well? Who will win out? It is about the good and bad inside him and which one will win out in that fight.”
As for his pitting the Woodbury community against Merle (Michael Rooker) and Daryl, Morrissey explains it thusly: “We have seen that the community is baying for blood. He can square that by saying, ‘I am giving them what they want.’”
After Lori’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) death in childbirth, Rick went crazy and on a zombie killing spree. “Of course, I was in a great deal of distress but there was a method to the rampage,” Lincoln says. “I was trying to find the scene of the crime. Of course, I wanted to kick their asses, but the end result, I just wanted to see evidence. I looked in my son’s eyes and that gave me what I knew, but, I think, there is something incredibly pragmatic about Rick, which is possibly why he is such a good and tenacious leader. He just went, ‘No.’ Denial is one of the qualities of grief. I wanted to show as many of those in the aftermath as possible.”
With the loss of Lori and T-Dog (IronE Singleton), the dynamic of the group has once again changed and it remains to be seen if Rick can maintain his leadership role as broken as he is by the tragic events.
“I certainly think when you lose someone that close to you, it changes you irrevocably,” Lincoln says. “The situation and how it happened … Rick is one of these people who punishes himself. He blames himself continually. I have always said this from the get-go, it sort of degrades him. It is beautiful being able to play a guy who starts in one place and changes completely.”
With Kirkman right there, Lincoln wasn’t able to say why, but he did reveal that Episode 12 of Season 3 is his favorite since the pilot — even as he also revealed that he doesn’t watch the show because he doesn’t want it to affect his performance.
Daryl has gone from a would-be redneck in Season 1, who was destined to become a mini-Merle, to a compassionate, respected member of the group. But now that is reunited with Merle, he is going to have to make a choice: Who does he want to be?
“Having people rely on him is giving him this sense of self-worth that he would never have before,” Reedus says. But will it be enough? “I think when you get those two brothers together, little brother turns into little brother and does what big brother says, so Daryl fights that [in the second half of the season]. It is his own personal battle. Rick is the brother Merle wasn’t, so there is definitely some conflict.”
Fans of Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl want to see the two hook up, and it is a possibility in the back eight, but if it does Reedus supplies the idea for an interesting twist.
“I like the fact that these two damaged people gravitate toward each other,” he says. “If there is a kissy-kissy thing to come, I want to play that like I have no game. I want her to make the move and I just want to whimper.”
Even though Michonne took a tough, warrior stance when she left Andrea behind in Woodbury, it was a breaking point for her. It was also what drove her to join up with Rick’s little band when she has up until now pretty much been a loner — except for her two Walker pets.
“The loss of Andrea that she feels in that moment with her and the Governor, where she feels that she has really lost Andrea — that Andrea has chosen someone over her — that leads Michonne to submitting to Rick and offering [her services] to Rick at the end of the episode,” Gurira says. “‘Let me be a part of the group’ is what she is saying because she recognizes that she needs community. To go to that point for her is a breaking point. I could go out and get two more pets and wander off on my lone road again, but I am choosing to be a part of a community.”
Glenn went through a really traumatic experience in the first half of Season 3 when he was captured and tortured at the hands of the Governor’s henchmen. But even worse for him was the knowledge that Maggie, his love, was also in their power and there was nothing he could do to rescue her.
“It was a real turning point for me as an actor and for Glenn as a character,” says Yeun. “What is cool is that scene wasn’t scripted. It just came out and we continued to film it. What is cool is that the writers, producers, directors and crew are all there to support you and you feel completely free. For me as an actor, I felt I could do no wrong in that moment. Hopefully, it conveys. Glenn has everything stripped away and it is down to bare bone’s survival. Not just for him but for the person he loves who is right next door.”
And even though Glenn and Maggie are rescued just in the nick of time, the fact that he had to listen to Maggie being degraded — and he fears raped — is something he doesn’t quickly get past.
“I think it drives the second half,” Yeun says. “Maggie, in Glenn’s eyes, having been violated, how does he move forward? Is their trust broken? Is there rage? Is there actual intelligent thought in his head? Does that ruin relationships?”
For Maggie, who grew up sheltered on the farm, her ordeal in Woodbury with complete loss of power over her life, was incredibly traumatic, but maybe not as traumatic as it was for Glenn.
“I think it is interesting because it is something you might expect might happen in this world with these kinds of characters taking control,” Cohan says. “It is just such a warped thing. The Governor needs to so badly know so badly where this group is. He is playing with people who are such a diminished group and having us in separate rooms and inflicting all this torture, but both Maggie and Glenn will do whatever it takes for at least one of them to survive.”
As for the second half of the season, Cohan says, “I think it is interesting how the Governor is divisive for the group and it will be interesting to see how the good guys respond under pressure.”
“The Walking Dead” returns on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 9/8c on AMC.