“The Walking Dead is about finding out who you are and what you’re willing to fight for.” – Norman Reedus
Each week fans of The Walking Dead take to social media to talk emotions and reactions to the just aired episodes. There are fan blogs, twitter accounts dedicated to the series, and discussion threads on everything undead. There’s no hiding what viewers of the show think of what they see on screen, but what’s not seen as often, is what the cast members who play the characters are thinking. Tonight, AMC gave fans a special look at the story so far and they did it with the cast themselves.
Each season was dissected while stand-out moments, in the opinions of the cast and crew, were focused upon. Scenes from previous episodes were shown while discussing what they meant as they were being filmed, what emotions were present, and how they got through some of the most heartbreaking episodes.
Season 1 laid the groundwork; it showed Rick’s spirit which is what Andrew Lincoln says convinced him to play the character in the first place. Seeing Rick’s first instinct upon waking up in that hospital being to go home to his family and once he gets there and finds them missing; he goes off to find them, he dares to hope.
The first season allowed the audience to sort of go on the journey as Rick did himself as he finds other survivors, tries to understand what the undead are, and navigates this new world at the same time that he carries his fear. He comes across people like Glenn and Morgan and Daryl who teach him things as life progresses. Morgan teaches him perhaps the most important lesson: ‘don’t get bit’ and Daryl follows up – after first finding the group he comes across ridiculous for not knowing how – by teaching them to kill zombies. Rick is also told a secret towards the end of season 1 that he doesn’t reveal to anyone else at the time.
“The audience experiences what Rick experiences which is this terrifying new world.”
One of Andrew’s most favorite scenes was 16 hours of smearing himself in blood, which was what kept Rick and Glenn safe among walkers. One of Steven Yeun’s was also his welcome to Hollywood moment which he described as “fucking badass” when they shut downtown Atlanta down while zombies took over the city.
Season 2 really gave TWD it’s shock value; it brought with it the heard of zombies, the immovable force, the true fear of the unknown and indescribable. It also brought with it another group of people, Hershel and the members of his family at the farm, who change the way of life yet again for Rick and the group on the road, Hershel is seen first as he strives to save Carl which is also the first time Rick truly had to practice patience and giving the power over to someone else. The farm was safe, it was a place to find some hope and promise, even if just for a little while.
Sophia, Carol’s daughter is another key part of season 2, specifically in the scene where she walks out of the barn in which Hershel had kept his loved ones who had turned and shows herself as a zombie. She is the visual representation of everything The Walking Dead stands for, for the new world with no mercy.
Rick reveals his secret which stands as one of the most defining moments of the show in its entirety. The secret told by him at the doctor from the CDC.
“We’re all infected, whatever it is we all carry it.”
Norman puts it into perspective as he reveals his first reaction to the secret as Daryl; likely summing it up for everyone else too.
“So if you die naturally or get hit by a piano, you too will turn into a zombie; so all hope is lost.”
In season 3 the group is “incredibly accomplished” as the cast members describe when discussing their move to being on the road again. The characters found the prison in season 3 which was decidedly their safe haven – of course – after they could find a way to rid it of the undead.
This season brought with it a true sense of desperation too, it showed what they were willing to lose, give up, and how far they’d go to save themselves, to save their loved ones, and to try relentlessly to just make it out alive.
Andrew spoke of a scene that gutted him in season 3.
“Chopping off Herschel’s leg was one of the weirdest most unpleasant scenes Andrew has ever had the misfortune of shooting.”
Michonne is introduced in season 3 and her welcoming moment is one of the most talked about in The Walking Dead history; it’s something that sticks with you. She is also the one character who truly fears The governor at first; and as viewers know, the one who read him right. The governor wasn’t concerned with the safety of everyone, not with the vitality of life or righteousness and Michonne leaves Andrea with him in an attempt to save her own spirit.
Michonne then joins the group at the prison after a moment of vulnerability with Rick and lets them know that Glenn and Maggie have been taken; this sets the scene for the rest of season 3 and the struggles that come from crossing paths with The governor.
Norman describes the scene where he kills his brother in a way that describes the way the whole group feels about this new world.
“He doesn’t stab him once or twice he relentlessly just stabs him into the ground and it’s not even like he’s trying to kill something he’s just fed up with ‘this is how it is’ and you just can’t win in this world.”
Season 4 fleshes out the show as more characters are explored, brought in, and a sense of life sort of flourishes even in the midst of the apocalypse. It also shows how family and a sense of brotherhood is important as a virus sweeps through the prison and true colors are shown. This obviously led to Carol’s exile and a show of love as the characters watched their friends and loved ones fall ill and death became even closer.
In season 4 Chandler Riggs was knighted with the machine gun as he was unable to legally hold a firearm until he turned 14. He laughs and says the moment was a great one.
One of the most heartbreaking deaths in the opinion of the fans happened in season 4 and almost all of the cast members said the death was also the most traumatizing they’ve been through. Losing Hershel wasn’t only incredibly sad, it spurred an all out war and the moments that break the group up into parts as they all scattered to stay alive after the smoke cleared.
The season also focused an entire episode on Beth and Daryl’s relationship which was important in that moment, and later in the series. As the entire group is split up and trying to find one another, three more members are added to the mix and they bring with them quite a tall tale. The end of this season packed a lot into a few episodes, including Maggie’s message telling Glenn to find Terminus, another group of disturbing bad guys, and even more death.
In discussing Daryl and Rick’s relationship, Norman says it quite perfectly.
“Rick becomes the brother that Merle couldn’t have been.”
The start of season 5 picks up with the trough where the group was sure they were facing death. Carol, however, comes through at just the right moment and is the catalyst for their break-out, without them first knowing it was her.
“That was another moment that we were pretty sure that we went too far.”
Season 5 introduces Father Gabriel and another new way of surviving as well as the death of Bob which is one of the hardest to watch, however, as fans know, he gets the last laugh. It also brought the loss of Beth and Tyrese which didn’t just take away two incredible characters but broke all the remaining ones into pieces. It also was a season that brought personal vengeance, especially as Daryl stole the life of the woman who stole Beth’s.
Of Beth’s death, Andrew said it was an impossible loss.
“It was another terrible loss of an innocent beautiful spirit.”
Norman said the cast was destroyed after the loss of both characters.
“After Tyrese dies and Beth dies, everyone is just at their lowest point.”
Aaron shows up in the middle of season 5 and at first, Rick and the rest of the group are hesitant to believe his promise of hope. They take a chance and for a moment, they’re safe, fed, clean, and sort of reborn. They soon realize that no safety is absolute as tensions rise in Alexandria, especially with Rick who, while getting stronger, is also a little bit unhinged.
Another gruesome death happens in the form of Noah being destroyed by walkers because of the negligence of a man from Alexandria; further proving that so many people the group have come across have led them into danger, either by meaning to or because of their own fear. The finale of season 5 brings the break of Alexandria as far as emotions go, the original inhabitants finally experience what this apocalypse has done to the world, the one they were hiding from behind those enforced walls.
Season 6 brings with it the quarry of walkers and the group quickly forms a plan to make them someone else’s problem, however, a horn heard near Alexandria breaks that plan up entirely. It also brought with it what viewers thought was the death of Glenn. Another revelation was Daryl bring taken prisoner as well as being stripped of his motorcycle and crossbow.
Norman spoke of Daryl’s warning to the pair who took him hostage.
“They take his bike and they take his weapon and he says you’re going to be sorry, and he means it.”
Season 6 also holds the reunion of the characters as they find their way back to Alexandria for an epic battle, which they win thanks to the sheer will to live and frustration of every single moment they’ve suffered through up to that point. They fought to save their makeshift city, but they also fought to save themselves and for a moment, hope seems evident again.
Jesus, a snarky new character also shows up and brings the group to The Hilltop which introduces them to the character that is Negan, which proves to be absolutely detrimental. It also forces the group to, for the first time, actively seek out to kill humans.
This is also the big split, the single most terrible thing that could have happened to the group as they fight separate battles. The last episodes lead us all to the tragedy that is the last episode of season 6 and the first of the rest of their lives.
The cast members all spoke about that fateful moment at the end of season 6 and the start of season 7 as scenes of Negan flashed across the screen.
“You’ve never seen these people submit to anybody, you’ve never seen them as powerless as they are now.” – Christian Serratos
“This is the man who is in charge of the saviors and he’s pretty pissed off.” – Josh McDermitt
“He comes out and he just plays with us like a cat and a little mouse.” – Norman
“He is really sadistic and messed up.” – Lauren Cohan
“Negan’s rules are pretty straightforward, we kill one of you as an example, and if you don’t listen to us we’ll kill more of you.” – Michael Cudlitz
“Negan comes out and says one of you guys are dead.” – Steven Yeun
“He is going to beat one of us to death.” – Sonequa Martin
“I think this is the first time rick is truly powerless.” – Andrew Lincoln
“Just feeling completely inferior to Negan.” – Chandler Riggs
‘I don’t think anybody sitting there thinks there’s any way out of that at all.” – Norman Reedus
“They’re going to have to learn to live by Negan’s rules fro here out and if they don’t like it they’re going to die.” – Ross Marquand
“You see rick getting more and more panicked and terrified.” – Andrew Lincoln
“It is that sort of moment where loss is imminent and you don’t know who or how.” – Danai Gurira
Andrew Lincoln gave some friendly advice for the season 7 premiere at the end of the two-hour special, and we are taking it to heart.
“I think that the audience needs to not watch the returning episode alone, be with your loved ones and hold hands and make a nice meal, really say nice things to each other and tell them that you love them before you embark on this returning episode.”
Season 7 premieres on October 23rd – just one week away – on AMC at 9/8c and brings with it a tremendous loss; we’re already choking back tears.