The Walking Dead showrunner on Aaron's gruesome fate
SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s “The Bridge” episode of The Walking Dead.
Let’s everyone give Aaron a hand. And an arm, for that matter. The Walking Dead survivor who emerged with this season’s most kick-ass beard survived an accident on Sunday night’s “The Bridge” episode that left him a grotesque, bloody mess, but he had to lose his arm in the process when Enid amputated it. Bummer for him!
Why did Aaron suffer this cruel fate? And what will it mean for the Alexandrian going forward? We asked showrunner Angela Kang that as well as more burning questions from the episodes. Questions such as: What was it like shifting those Negan and Carl cell conversations in the comic to Negan and Rick on TV? Where did that Anne and Gabriel relationship come from? And have we gotten our first hint at the Whisperers? Read on for answers!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So in the comics it is Carl and Negan that have these talks down in the cell. Obviously, that is not an option here, so tell me about the change in having it be Rick visiting Negan and how those conversations then shifted.
ANGELA KANG: We were really interested in the idea that Rick and Negan, although they’re in very different situations, in some ways also have very different ideas about what the world should be. What they have in common is that in some ways there are times when they feel like dinosaurs after the war. Like, for Rick, he’s a man who thrives on a mission. And in some ways, the end of the war left him without a mission other than to try to make Carl’s dream of civilization come true.
But sometimes that’s an ill-defined thing. Like, he knows that they’ve got to help the Sanctuary. He knows that Alexandria’s gotta be built up. But all that stuff is going. And so we see that he has latched onto this idea of rebuilding the bridge. That becomes the mission. And we thought that the talks with Negan are just the thing that he does sporadically almost to gloat a little bit. Like, maybe he also needs that reminder of what’s driving him, that reminder that Negan is down there as the symbol of how they can be a civilized society.
He almost has to justify to himself that the pain that he caused to Maggie and some of the other people in the aftermath of the war, that it was worth it because here’s Negan, and they’re doing all the things that they said that they would do. So that was something that was interesting to us. And then later in the season we’ll see that Negan has conversations with other people as well. I think that Negan has some very interesting ways of interacting with some of our other characters, which I think gives some interesting dimension to him.
We saw Carol putting on Ezekiel’s ring, but we also have Anne and Gabriel going at it. That is a couple I never would have expected. What can you say about them? First off on Carol and Ezekiel.
I think in the moment, Carol is allowing herself a little bit of joy. She’s not a person that trusts easily, she doesn’t give her heart easily. But Ezekiel is a breath of fresh air in her world. He’s so different in terms of just the joy that he’s able to find. And she’s had so much darkness. And I think for someone who just is looking for a little peace in her life, he feels that void.
Okay, what about Anne and Gabriel?
How we thought they would be drawn to each other is that they’re both a little odd, the two of them, but in the most delightful way. They both have an odd perspective on life and strange senses of humor. And we thought that was something that would be a draw. But they’re also both very strong in their own ways, and they’ve also been outsiders. And they’ve been outsiders that wronged people in the past, and they have guilt about that. And so, there were just a lot of things that made us go like, it’s such an unexpected couple, but let’s try it and see what happens. And I just think that the two actors had a lot of fun playing those scenes. They play that chemistry very well.
I’m not usually the type of guy to get squeamish at gore, but what you all did to Aaron and his arm was pretty damn nasty. Enid has to amputate the sucker. Why do this to the poor guy while also, I might add, creating all these headaches for your visual effects team?
[Laughs] Yeah, the visual effects team has done an amazing job with that arm. When we first saw the shots come back, we all squirmed. And I’m not squeamish either, and we were all like, “Ooh, it’s kind of awful.” But it’s like the horror aspect aside, we really thought we had to show an incident where there were real extreme consequences, that nothing comes for free, and that’s true life. The people who built the great monuments of the world, and even just the people who are maintaining the roads and bridges, just those quiet heroes of life that are making sure that we can get from place to place — there’s a high rate of accidents, and there are people who lose their lives, and there are people who get badly injured.
And we thought that it would be interesting to tell the story of somebody who didn’t start off with something that was a physical disability, but that gains one and really has to learn to re-navigate the world and do very well at it. That’s the hopeful thing that we’ll see in the future for Aaron. But it’s something that also sparks a lot of anger for Daryl. We’ve shown that has been a good friend with Aaron. And Aaron has really helped him find his place in Alexandria. And so, there’s just a lot of consequences that roll out from there and are part of the mystery of the first few episodes that ensue.
I know people on this show always dreading to get that call from a showrunner saying, “Hey, your time is up.” What happens when someone loses a limb? Do they get a call? Do they see it in the script? What’s the protocol?
I believe I gave him a heads up, because usually with that, they have to get fitted with stuff by Greg Nicotero’s group. So you have to give him a heads up and go, “Hey, so when you get a call from Candy to put this thing on, this prosthetic fitting, here’s what’s happening.” And Ross [Marquand] is great and just really rolls with it and was excited about it, because it opens up some different things to play. I think I found that all of our actors, they’re not squeamish about getting scars or injuries or things like that. They don’t care about looking pretty onscreen. They want these characters to have depth and have interesting stories, so that’s been wonderful.
We hear about all these Saviors that have disappeared, and then see Justin killed at the very end. We know the Whisperers are coming this season. What do you want to say about any possible connection between them and these incidents?
So what I’ll say is, we really wanted to play the mystery of who’s doing this and why, and I think that’s part of the fun. Hopefully, for the fans, they’ll have fun speculating, because even internally as we were putting out these scripts, there was a lot of speculation amongst the actors and amongst the crew and AMC, like, what is happening? This is kind of intriguing. And I think there are some twists and turns to that story. I don’t want to say too much, because I think it spoils it, but I’ll just say that it’s all part of the story that goes forward, and it’s really important to our characters that there are people who have secrets and those secrets start to spiral.
For more Walking Dead intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.