The death of Beth has sent shock waves through the group on The Walking Dead, but we have yet to see the reactions from the people she was closest to: sister Maggie and Daryl. Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman tells us that both of them will have a very difficult time in the aftermath of that tragedy at the hospital. He also provides some intel on Eugene’s place in the group, a possible Morgan-Rick reunion, and a bevy of new faces.
EW: Let’s talk about the death of Beth—what that’s going to do to the group as a whole, and to Maggie specifically now that she has really lost the last link to her family.
ROBRT KIRKMAN: Maggie to a certain extent is adrift. I mean, she’s got Glenn—that’s somebody who’s certainly a big part of what provides stability to her life. But one by one she has slowly lost her family, the Greene family—the family that the writers of The Walking Dead hate because we systematically kill everyone in that family. So look out!
But anyway, she’s definitely got a lot to deal with when we come back, and for her it’s kind of a two step grieving process because she thought that she had lost Beth when she lost her father. And it was kind of like a one-two punch of, “Oh my gosh, I’ve lost this person.” And it was an uplifting moment and a moment of hope when she was told that Beth was out there and Beth was actually alive, but then she immediately found out the opposite. And so it was really kind of a gut wrenching series of events that she’s had to experience, and that’ll weigh on her tremendously.
But for the characters as a whole, Beth is going to serve to remind these characters that no matter how good you get at living in this world—and over the course of these five seasons because they’ve clearly gotten extremely good at living in this world—danger still lurks around every corner and no amount of preparedness can prepare you for everything. There are random acts, there are things that are out of your control that will happen. This brings fear back into their lives because I feel like coming out of the hunters and Terminus—even though they lost Bob, you know—they’ve kind of gotten to a point where when the zombies roll up, or when they encounter people they feel like they are manageable threats they’re like, “We’ve managed zombies, we’ve managed people, we know what we’re doing.” We’ve kind of brought them more fear at this point because we’ve reminded them that anything can happen at any time.
What can you say about Daryl moving forward in terms of his reaction to the Beth thing, because obviously he got close with her at the end of last season?
To a certain extent this might send Daryl on a spiral that leads him back into his old behavior. We’ve seen Daryl integrate into the group in ways that he hasn’t done in the past and grow much closer to Rick and much closer to Carol than he ever was. And seeing him interact with these characters and be included in ways that he’s never really been in his entire life has been something that we’ve been exploring. But coming out of Beth’s death and how he opened up to that character and really cared for her and then ended up losing her—that might lead to him being a little bit more distant, which is going to lead to some other things that I can’t talk about. So I think we’ll definitely see a big shift in the way he interacts with everybody moving forward.
We saw Abraham’s reaction to Eugene’s revelation that he was not really a scientist, but we really haven’t seen Eugene yet react to that. So what does this mean for that group with Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, and Eugene’s place now that his lie has been exposed?
I would say that this has been a very tight knit group, the three of them, that they’ve been traveling together way before we even met them. And this situation with Abraham and Eugene where Abraham found out that Eugene had been lying this whole time obviously put a tremendous amount of distance between them and shook up that dynamic in a big way. I would just say that there’s some external influences that will probably arise that will either bring them closer together or push them apart forever.
Morgan’s been tracking these guys, he’s got his hands on the map now at the church—can we assume that he’s at least getting closer to them, and what can you say about the possibility of him meeting up with this group somewhere along the line?
I would say it would be hilarious if we’ve been doing all these scenes with Morgan and then he doesn’t meet up with them. Wouldn’t that be a weird choice? Like here’s Morgan! Here’s Morgan! He’s one step closer! Here’s Morgan! Oh, he missed them! He’s on the ocean! He’s in a boat! We’ll never see him again! So strange. So while I will not confirm that Morgan will eventually meet up with our characters, I will say that it would be a misstep on our part if he didn’t.
I knew you have a lot of new characters coming up in this back half of season 5. What can you say about them in terms of people from the comic, people not from the comic, how they’re just going to fit into this world and how they might impact your sort of long-term main cast here?
There’s a lot of curve balls coming up. Comic book readers certainly have a leg up on figuring out where things are going, and everyone should be reading the comic. Please print that in Entertainment Weekly. But even if you have read the comic book series, there are a lot of changes, a lot of differences, a lot of curve balls coming up.
So I would say there’s a significant number of new characters possibly on the horizon, and a fair number of those are going to be directly adapted from the comic, which is always very exciting. And a few of those are going to be changed up quite a bit for various reasons. So it’ll be kind of a mixed bag. Here are characters you’re familiar with from the comic book series, and here are some new elements or some tweaks on these characters in some interesting ways that will hopefully enhance the story in ways that we’ve figured out. So there’s an awful lot of new on the horizon, I’ll say that.