By Dalton Ross
March 19, 2017 at 10:05 PM EDT
Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead

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SPOILER ALERT: Read only if you have already watched Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead, “The Other Side.”

Rosita and Sasha shared more than a love for the dearly departed Abraham. They were also both sick and tired and sitting around and waiting to strike back against Negan. So the dynamic (and a bit dysfunctional) duo joined forces to take their shot at the big bad on this week’s episode of The Walking Dead. But everything changed once they saw Eugene.

After attempting to save a guy who did not want to be saved, Rosita attempted to pivot back to infiltrating the Sanctuary to take out Negan. Just one problem: Sasha locked her out to save her, going at it alone. We spoke to the woman who plays Rosita, Christian Serratos (who has had a standout season), to get all the behind-the-scenes scoop on Rosita’s biggest episode yet — which included a huge download of backstory intel, an awkward moment over a necklace, and a suicide mission gone awry — and find out what’s next for the grief-riddled warrior. (Click through both pages to read the entire interview. For more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I know showrunner Scott Gimple meets with each of you and gives you some info on what to expect for your character coming up, so I’m curious what he told you? Was his outline for you just to be pissed off at everyone and everything all year?
CHRISTIAN SERRATOS: Well, it’s funny because my meeting always, always, always falls toward the middle of the season. It’s just that Scott’s so busy, and I’m not one of those people to remind anyone of anything. So it’s always about midseason that I go, “Damn. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I don’t know what’s going on or anything. I should probably track him down.” So I didn’t really find out about more of the trajectory until about the midseason finale, and that’s when we sat down. One of the bigger things was that my appearance was going to be different on the show after Negan has my face cut, so I was really excited about that.

And I was really excited to hear that she wasn’t going to quickly come out of this funk that she was in. To me, as a human being, it didn’t seem very reasonable that after such a traumatic loss she would just go back to normal, or what we consider normal for Rosita. After going through such chaos in that first episode and after witnessing such a trauma — all of them should have been very, very messed up after that. They’ve all been through a lot. We’ve seen all these characters go through a lot, but episode 1 especially was just a completely different world, so I liked that you’re seeing each of them handle this loss in a very different way.

RELATED VIDEO: ‘The Walking Dead’: Has Eugene gone to the dark side?

I think a lot of the audience has really been sympathizing with Rosita because she was so frustrated when Rick just wanted to sit back and she wanted to take action. But what’s interesting now is that Rick is finally on board to take out Negan, and he’s got this long-term plan. So why is it that Rosita can’t get behind that? Is she just too impatient?
Yeah, she’s very, very motivated right now. She kind of has a one-track mind, and she probably hears that they’re all willing and wanting to take him out, but I think the idea of missing the opportunity is very apparent in this episode, and that’s something that she does not want to do. She does not want to miss an opportunity to take him out because this is more than just vengeance at this point.

Yes, she wants him dead to avenge Abraham and Glenn’s death, but more than anything, people are forgetting that a lot of her anger and frustration is coming from the fact that she lost two people and she’s scared of losing anyone again. And with Negan still alive, he still poses a threat, and she wants to eliminate the threat to eliminate the chance of her losing loved ones — which is another reason why she’s willing to put herself in harm’s way. She wants to put herself before anybody else, and I think that’s just how much she loves them.

What was it like getting to work with Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Sasha, so much in this episode?
Working with Sonequa is my favorite. I love it so much, and this goes for everybody on the show, but there’s something that Sonequa and I share that just gets me very excited to go to work. Everyone gives 130 percent. Everybody. Nobody shows up to work and half-asses it. But Sonequa and I, we have this chemistry and it shows, I think. We can trust each other, and we have fun with each other even in the most dramatic scenes. The most traumatizing scenes are still somehow fun. It’s therapeutic in a way and we can rely on each other, and we know that each other’s going to give the other one everything they need to get to the place where they need to get to.

I want to talk about some of the specific scenes we see in this episode. Obviously, it’s a slightly awkward situation when Rosita sees Sasha wearing the necklace that she made for Abraham. Who should be wearing that?
Well, nobody at this point. It’s weird! We joked about that off camera. We read the script and when we were filming it, we both thought it was so gross. It’s just weird, and I feel like Sonequa in real life, if she were in that position, she would have taken it off and just been like, “Gross. Throw it away.” She’s wearing something that’s kind of a representation of Rosita and Abraham’s love for each other, so I don’t know. It’s this weird place, but she also just lost her love. What she and Abraham shared was very real. There was something there that Abraham and Rosita did not have, so to have anything of his I know was important to the character, but as individuals, we were not having it.

You have that argument with Sasha where she wants to take the shot at Negan from far away and Rosita insists they go in close to do it. At that point, she’s almost looking at this as a one-way trip, isn’t she? Escape is not really Rosita’s concern, is it?
Yeah, that’s a good read. It’s been a suicide mission from the get-go with her, and I think that’s why Father Gabriel tried to talk her off the ledge, reminding her that she’s still needed, because she had given up her life when she made the decision to take Negan out. You could argue that she’s felt dead this whole season, so it’s definitely something that is a non-issue for her. Escaping. Living. That’s a non-issue. The only mission — and we’ve seen how Rosita is about a mission — is killing Negan, no matter what the cost.

NEXT: Serratos on finally getting to share Rosita’s backstory, and what’s coming up next

This episode really marks our first big backstory download for Rosita where you talk all about how your character hated not being able to take care of herself so went to guys who could protect her so she could pick things up from them, and then once she learned what she needed and outgrew them, she would take off. What do you make of all that and how nice was it to fill in some of the past blanks with this character?
I loved it. I was very excited. I had known about her backstory for a while. It was something that I thought about and I asked questions about, so I have known all that information. It was like this juicy secret that I had, but I also really couldn’t wait to share it. I’ve been asked about it a lot, so the way I got to do it was perfect. And I love her backstory. It shows her strength. It shows how fierce she is.

We already know that this world is something nobody can really understand, but they lost everything and they had to go down to the mere basics, and she knew that what she had to offer was her appearance and that it could benefit her if she chose to utilize it, and that’s what she did to survive. And I thought that was just really cool, and the fact that she was doing it 10 times better than all these dudes is a really cool message.

You all change the mission to save Eugene, yet he says he doesn’t want to go with you all so he runs away — a very Eugene move, by the way. You want to go in there and finish Negan off, but Sasha locks you out and goes in there solo. How pissed is Rosita at that moment?
Of course there’s frustration and there’s a sense of being pissed off, but I think more than anything it was guilt. Their agreement was that they’re going in to kill Negan and to hell with their lives. They’re both on a suicide mission, so by locking her out she’s essentially saving her life, and I think that’s really touching for Rosita, especially since she opened up to Sasha. I think that there then starts to be a lot of guilt.

What do you think Rosita does if she does go in there and she runs across Eugene again? What happens?
[Laughs] She probably just tells him to sit down and get out of the way.

What is it like when you know you have this big episode coming?
It’s exciting. It’s nerve-wracking and I love that it’s still nerve-wracking. And I hope that as long as I’m still doing this that I never stop getting nervous about scenes, because when you get nervous about a scene, it’s because you care about it, and it’s good and you want to make sure you give it your all, and you make the fans happy, and you please people, and you grow — all these checkmarks that you just want to make sure to hit.

And there’s also the fear of, this is a lot of dialogue. [Laughs] I remember getting that scene between me and Sonequa, and it’s so simple. It’s so trivial, but it was the most dialogue I’ve ever had on the show. That comes very naturally to some people and it doesn’t for others. I find myself right in the middle, so that was definitely a struggle for me, but I had just been sitting with this information for so long that I wanted to make sure that this was finally when I was going to get to tell the audience who she is. I was going to let them in a little bit, and I just didn’t want to disappoint, so even watching it, I still think, “Oh, what could I have done or not done?” But that’s the game. You learn from yourself. You grow and you hope to do better the next day.

We knew where Rosita’s head was at going into this whole mission. So what about now after what just went down?
I definitely think that she’s never one to just sit back and say, “Well, that didn’t work.” So there’s definitely going to be a lot more strategizing for Rosita. Whether we see that on camera or it’s more methodically, we’ll have to find out, but she’s never one to just accept a failure.

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For more Walking Dead intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

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