Every week, The Walking Dead’s very own Josh McDermitt, who plays Dr. Eugene Porter, is taking EW behind the scenes of the hit AMC horror series. For each episode, McDermitt will share his thoughts on what went down and what’s coming up, plus walk us through the ins and outs of the show. This week, McDermitt dives into the fifth episode of season 7, “Go Getters.”
Characters like Gregory (Xander Berkeley) tend to be my favorite characters in a story. They mix things up. They foil the plans of our heroes. King Joffrey in Game of Thrones was not that type of character. He was written in a way where you would hate his every move. But characters like Gregory or Shane (Jon Bernthal) from seasons 1 and 2 are supposed to be with the good guys, right? They’re in the lion’s den already, the inner circle, if you will. I always imagine people watching these types of characters and loving to hate them. But then there are those who watch them and may think, “You know, he has a point…” That’s ripe with conflict and exactly what I mean when I say they mix things up.
Gregory is such an amazing character to watch. His ego obviously gets in his way, but it’s not a Negan-type ego. I get the sense that Gregory is only trying to maintain his leadership because he’s a coward, which Maggie (Lauren Cohan) points out is very dangerous, and he’s afraid of what might happen to him if he weren’t in charge. I had a conversation with Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Sasha, about how we think Gregory was a guy who was maybe middle management in some company. He kept failing upward. But he could never break into the upper management arena, and that drives him nuts. That’s just our opinion, but I think it makes sense.
Berkeley does an amazing job with Gregory. I was on set for his first episode last season and loved every minute of it. He was doing the scenes with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) while his character was recovering from a stab wound. I felt like in between takes, they would send in someone from the crew with towels to mop up all the slime that was oozing and dripping from Gregory smarminess. It was an amazing thing to watch; every take was different. Every inflection, each note was bizarrely unique and apart from the last. TWD is lucky to have him.
Insert Simon the Savior (Steven Ogg) into the scene, and I can only imagine what was left on the cutting room floor between these two wild-card veteran actors dancing through the dialogue. Ogg is one of the funniest dudes I’ve ever met. He’s so interesting as a person to just observe. With his first episode last season in the finale, we had no clue who this guy was. We didn’t meet him until after a couple of takes into the scene. He and the other Saviors were set up down the road. It just worked out that we weren’t going to meet him beforehand. And after each take, we laughed. And we were scared. Something about his presence sucks you in, but that’s dangerous because that’s where a character like his can do some real damage. I remember talking with Andrew Lincoln and Martin-Green about Ogg, and we were all saying, “He’s so funny and real, and nice… Why does he have to be a bad guy?” But those are the best types of bad guys.
When Simon tells Gregory, “I’m Negan,”… Oh, man. Here we go again. We keep getting the sense that if you cut the head off this snake, it won’t matter one bit.
Subscribe to Entertainment Weekly now and receive a free Walking Dead tote! Click here for details.
My “Awwww, isn’t that sweet?” moment is the Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) teenage love story. This should be a movie! Robert Kirkman, please make a Fault in Our Stars 2. Roller skating through the apocalypse is how I hope to survive if it ever goes down.
Tom Payne (Jesus) told me he had been training in martial arts for the three months prior to shooting this episode, his first one back for the season. It was awesome to see him karate-chop some zombies in the big zombie sequence where Maggie was also playing demolition derby with a tractor. Tom is definitely living up to his comic book counterpart and makes it seem effortless.
And finally, we get to Maggie and Sasha. It’s interesting to see how each character is dealing with the deaths. They’re both incredibly strong, but in different ways. And part of that has to do with the fact that Maggie is recovering from her baby emergency. I love how she’s ready to get back out there and take no crap from anybody. But Sasha is quick to take care of her and to tell her that she needs to continue to rest. The way they’re coping with their loss is fascinating. I’m glad they’re not sitting around moping and crying. It’s time to get to work. It’s time to figure out how to stop this madman. Which one? Negan or Gregory? Ooh! This is getting good!
Oh, and I can’t forget to mention Gregory getting punched in the face by Maggie. She’s not even at full strength, and he took it hard. I’m so happy that happened. He deserved to get hit from “Marsha.”
I can’t believe there are only three episodes left in the first half of this season. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Tara and Heath next week!
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.