The Walking Dead Sneak Peek Asks What Would Rick Do
Showrunner Angela Kang also breaks down the latest episode and talks about what’s to come next week.
By Chris Morse
The latest sneak peek for The Walking Dead has surfaced with next week’s episode focusing around Daryl’s return to Alexandria alongside Henry, Lydia, and Connie. In the preview scene, we can see Daryl getting a little perspective from Judith as the two sit beside the water and talk.
She asks if he’ll be returning to Hilltop or staying with them before offering some wisdom about the stories she’s heard of their people working together to take down the Saviors, insisting they can do it again if needed. After all, Daryl brought them there because he wants to help and we have a feeling he is going to continue doing so, even as the conflict with the Whisperers grows more volatile.
Aside from that, series showrunner Angela Kang also spoke with EW about the latest episode, exploring some of the events that occurred and offering a tease at what is coming next. Regarding the people of the Kingdom and their run-in with the Highwaymen, Kang had the following to say about what that group was all about.
We thought of them as if a mob moved into this territory that was created by a power vacuum after Carol took out Jed in that group when she so famously set them all on fire earlier in the season. We thought, how interesting if the action that she took there which kind of stamped out one problem from her mind actually created the side problem. And yet, we like the fact that this group is sort of morally ambiguous. Really, are they bad guys, or did they just have their own thing that they’re trying to do just as our people do? Certainly our people have done some things that are in the gray area themselves.
We wanted to tell this story of how do groups coexist with each other or not? Because there’s certainly a very specific story with the Whisperers that’s happening. Then here’s a different kind of group, and how do you negotiate what are your borders, or where you go? I guess the long-winded answer to your question is, I don’t really see the Highwaymen as being good or evil. They’re just people who exist in this world, and they’re trying to grapple with having neighbors just like our people are.
The stand-off with the Highwaymen ended up being more of a fun scene than expected, with Carol breaking the ice by mentioning the movie they were going to have at the fair. Kang offered an explanation for what the creative team had in mind for these two groups interacting and finally reaching that common ground to work together.
I really enjoyed that the idea of the movie came back around to have a completely different context. I think even internally there’s always debates about is this kind of storyline about people going to a movie theater to get a projector bulb too frivolous in the face of everything? But even real life is so fraught with danger, people still have to live their lives, and what is important to them? Is it just about fighting wars and grappling with enemies, or is there something more to life? I think that’s the question that Carol was really presented with that movie theater story. The interesting thing is she’s able to take this thing that felt like a frivolous trip at first, and it actually became key to solving a problem for them that was a real, real problem that affects their survival.
But I also think Carol is so smart because she reads the situation better than anyone really. There are people who are like, “Well, we’re gonna have to kill ’em all.” She’s like, “Well, they wrote a letter.” She’s looking around and seeing people — they’re basically apocalypse cosplayers. They’re in this weird warehouse with mannequins, and they’re kind of wearing these uniforms. They obviously like to have a little bit of fun, the guy’s acting like he’s the Wizard of Oz. So she kind of just takes the gamble, like maybe something that’s sort of fun and frivolous will appeal to them, ’cause clearly they, as a group, are having a little bit of fun in the apocalypse.
Regarding the Oceanside community, she also touched upon what they’ve been up to and when we might see more of them.
It has been a minute. We always imagine that Oceanside is the least involved on a day-to-day basis with our people, but they are definitely just a part of all those groups and things. Certainly they would have been invited to the fair, so we’ll see what happens.
Back to the Whisperers, Kang spoke at length about the group’s overall philosophy and way of life, which looks to the walkers, or guardians as they call them, for protection as they navigate this world.
We were just thinking a lot internally about… If you’re the Whisperers, what is your attitude towards zombies? ‘Cause it’s clearly not the same attitude we have towards them. They’re not seen as a threat in the same way. In a lot of ways they have used the zombies, used their skins, but also just their physical presence to protect them. There’s something that’s so cult-like in a lot of ways about how the Whisperers think, and the way they behave, and the way they call Alpha, Alpha and Beta, Beta. It made sense to me and the other writers that they would try to make it seem like if you die and you’re a warrior, that this is a thing of honor, and you will always be with us.
It’s part of making that entire philosophy feel as if it’s one piece, and putting importance on different things than our people would. We thought that it was interesting in this episode, which really kind of deals with what we call the Field Team Six of the Whisperers. That that’s part of their warrior mythology, it’s like you die and then you still are with us forever, which felt kind of true to the general belief system that they have.
After taking a hard stance against bringing Lydia back with them, Daryl ultimately came around to doing the right thing and not the easy thing. In the interview, Kang explained why he finally did and what influence Connie had on him in the process.
I think, for Daryl, he knows that in some ways the pragmatic choice, the “smart” choice is to wash his hands of this girl. Obviously, the Whisperers want her back, it’s causing problems. We’ve seen that he does have some sympathy for her. Both of them being survivors of abuse, he gets the stuff that she’s been through in life, his heart does go out to her. The part of Daryl that’s really empathetic, and that especially can be very protective of young people, and women — all of those buttons are being pushed, but he’s trying to push that away.
I think Connie really acts as a voice of his conscience in a way, the things that she’s saying, “We have friends, and she doesn’t.” That’s something that gets to him, just the things that he hears Henry say, knowing that Henry is Carol’s child, and knowing that if this is really important to him too…. He just is caught in between what is strategic and what emotionally he feels is probably the right thing to do.
Daryl is a person who really acts strongly on emotion. His heart is often moved to do things, whether for good, or sometimes it leads him into directions of what we call feral Daryl, where his anger can take over. I think by the end of everything that happens this episode, there have been enough things and enough people saying the right things, that he realizes he’s gotta do what is actually the right thing. The thing he wants to do, but knows is going to be dangerous and hard. But I think ultimately that’s the kind of person that he is, and that’s where he lands by the end of the episode.
Despite the big fight, Beta’s not out of the picture yet, but based on the showrunner’s comments, we won’t be seeing much more of him until next season, which might include some backstory for the character as well. Kang concluded the chat with a tease at what’s to come in next episode, including some possible flashbacks involving those mysterious X-shaped scars shown on various characters. Read below for her final thoughts.
We are going to track the story of what happens when this group continues on this road to Alexandria. We will shed some light on some of the mysteries of the season. We’re gonna do some digging into why it is that Alexandria became the way it is, and what happened between Michonne, and Daryl, and others. I’ll say that I think the performances in the episode are just excellent, there’s some really great stuff from our actors that I really can’t wait for people to see because it’s very moving and interesting.
The Walking Dead continues its ninth season Sunday nights on AMC.