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Tom Payne on the Importance of Jesus Taking a Stand on ‘The Walking Dead’

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The first two episodes of The Walking Dead’s newest season have been insanely different from everything we saw in season 7. They’re fast-paced, they’re relentless, and they’re littered with more of an internal struggle than we were expecting.

Of course, when you’re joining together three groups with different leaders and different ideas, even under the same cause, there will be some disruptions. However, the disruptions so far have come from us being surprised at the characters we know doing things that are unexpected.

One of those biggest disruptions came in the latest episode where Tom Payne, as Jesus, had to convince two of his closest friends that they weren’t going to this war and taking as many casualties as necessary on their way to destroy Negan. In fact, they weren’t even going to take down all of those who had wronged them in the past.

We have to admit, we were a lot like Tara and Morgan when we heard Jesus’ stance on taking out the ‘bad guys’. He wants to believe that people can change and that death isn’t the only answer, but after everything we’ve seen them experience, it’s hard to think that death isn’t at least the most respected answer.

In a recent interview with EW, Tom spoke about Jesus’ decision, his moments with Tara and Morgan, and what it means for the future of the series.

When asked about the confrontation between Jesus and Tara, when she wanted to obliterate the guy they found ‘in hiding’, Tom had this to say on Jesus’ stance.

I think Jesus has a sense of right and wrong and is trying to inject a sense of morality into the whole thing. The thing is, it’s a war, and in war, there are prisoners of war and there are ways of going about things. There are rules. As much as it’s crazy and awful, there are established rules, like you don’t kill people who have surrendered. And as far as Jesus goes, he feels that you have to abide by those in order to keep some civility, otherwise you might just lose yourself.

He went on to say that this was the first time Jesus had been involved in a discussion like this one and it was an important part of who his character is, and who he’s becoming.

This is a debate that has obviously happened in the show before, but this is the first time that Jesus has been involved in that, and I feel that that’s one of the things that he brings to the group, this sense of, “What are we doing this for?” And there has to be a purpose beyond just killing everyone, because where does that end? And then how are we any different from the people that we are fighting? So this is a really interesting beginning to that debate within the war, and Jesus is putting himself at the forefront of it.

He was also asked about the moment where he told Tara that he had Maggie on his side, and she challenged him by saying she has Rick.

That’s kind of interesting because Jesus knows Rick, but he doesn’t really know him. Out of everyone in the whole group, he knows Maggie the best. So there is a little uncertainty there, because he’s like, “Well, I’m going to have to talk to Maggie and oh wow, she’s going to talk to Rick and we’ll see how that plays out.” So he has a hope that he can talk to Maggie and that she will be on the same side as him. And then Rick is another thing, so I think in his head he has to fight that battle with Maggie and he’s not going to be the one to try to convince Rick — Maggie is.

Jesus also had a moment with Morgan, much like the ones he shared with Tara, where he reminded him that ‘this isn’t who they are’. The last statement Tom made in his interview with EW has us wondering how much of that plays strongly into season 8.

That conflict and the decision that he made of the right thing to do definitely has repercussions, certainly in the next episode and in the episodes to come. And I think you’ll see a little bit of a battle of wits over right and wrong at the Hilltop. At the end of the day, everyone sets up into groups and there will be these moments where quick decisions have to be made.

We’re anticipating big deaths, but we wonder now if the foundation of the characters we love will end up with cracks, and if those cracks will ultimately lead to the biggest losses we’ve experienced so far.

If so, what happens then, and how do those left deal with that weight?

 

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