The Walking Dҽαd Showrunner Prepares Fans for a Surprise Twist in Carol’s Fate and Intense “Fantasy Justice” in the Final Episodes
As Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang approached the final episodes of the final season of the long-running AMC drama, one goal was foremost in her mind. “Oh my God,” she tells TVLine with a laugh. “Try not to f—k it up!”
OK, maybe two goals were foremost in her mind. With these last eight installments (the first of which premieres on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 9/8), “the thing we felt we absolutely had to do was make sure that we have some level of closure for each character’s story,” the EP says. “Whatever form that takes, we wanted to have some sense of where they land emotionally… so if you saw nothing else after this, you’d still have a sense that things are done.
“But obviously,” she adds, “because there are spinoffs, there are paths to continue.”
First, though, the mother ship will, in a manner of speaking, retrace its steps. “There’s a concept that we used for these episodes that was [not only] fitting for the [end] of the show,” Kang says, “but also has to do with being at the Commonwealth, which is a community which has you stuck in your past. Our protagonists, if you look back to who they were before, there’s so much growth. So they’re reckoning with that. Who were we? Who are we now? Who do we want to be now?
“All of that,” she continues, “fits very thematically with the particular group that we’re up against, but it also gives us some nostalgia.”
Read on as Kang tells all (that she can) about what’s in store for Daryl and Carol, Negan and Maggie, and yes, those who won’t survive the show’s swan song.
As The Walking Dead lurches toward its conclusion, the pressure is really going to be on Norman Reedus’ gruff-but-tender hero. “We’ve lost so many of our leaders along the way, and Daryl is part of that original group of people,” the boss notes. “The weight that’s on him is so heavy, and he just kind of steps up, because he had a life where people didn’t step up for him. He’s broken that pattern.”
For a while there, many a fan — us included — was convinced that Daryl was sweet on Connie and vice versa. But when it was revealed that Lauren Ridloff’s character hadn’t actually perished in Season 10, the twosome… hugged. And that was about it. More’s to come, though. “There’s definitely a vibe there,” Kang acknowledges. Where it takes Daryl and Connie, “people will just have to watch and see.”
If you’re wondering whether Melissa McBride’s Walking Dead sendoff was altered when she bowed out of the Daryl/Carol spinoff, the answer is “yes, yes, yes, yes,” Kang exclaims. “So many circumstances changed over the course of this. For one thing, the transition to spinoff was supposed to happen long ago. So obviously, the plan that we originally had for how the series ended with her changed as well.” That said, “her story is not done,” she hastens to add. “We’re just going to repeat that as a refrain: Her story is not over. There were just challenges.”
Everybody knows by now that in 2023, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan will be headlining their own offshoot, The Walking Dead: Dead City. “But it’s going to be its own journey,” Kang says, whereas these final eight episodes will allow the frenemies — are we there yet? Can we ever be? — to reach some kind of understanding. “In the last scenes of this show, those actors are so good together,” Kang marvels. “There’s a reason they got a spinoff.”
Since not all of the massive cast is moving on to a spinoff, a whole lotta characters could be about to meet their makers. In the last block, “there’s a lot of danger, and not everybody is going to make it,” Kang says. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the audience. “There are going to be some moments that I think people are really going to enjoy,” she says with a laugh, “because there is a fantasy version of justice that is a little bit gorier than real-life justice.”