November 11, 2018 at 10:20 PM EST
Gene Page/AMC

While you’re just talking about Henry, let’s talk about Carol. What are we to make of Carol telling Henry in one breath to stand down and then going and burning a bunch of Saviors alive in the next?
I think Carol in that role of mother, she is still very protective of her kid, and wants to raise him right, and wants him to have good values. Also, it’s like a survival thing too. It’s like, why pick a fight at a time when you’re outnumbered? She’s very pragmatic, and the smart thing to do is just defuse the situation. She rigged the situation with her experience and her knowledge. She knew that there was no fighting really in that moment, but the guy touches her kid and there’s also still mama grizzly Carol. You don’t get away with that.

She’s run into this guy a bunch of times. She’s forgiven, but she’s never forgotten. She’s just at point where she realizes like, “You’re causing problems. You’ve caused a problem for me, but also you’re causing problems for other people. Also, you don’t get to touch my kid.” That’s the unforgivable sin. We just felt it was important to show that Carol has this softer side of her, but she still’s not soft. She’s going to take care of business, but she also doesn’t want her kid to have to see something he doesn’t have to see. She’s still got a slyness about her in the way she handles things.

Speaking of kids: Is that Rick and Michonne’s son we see scampering into that hallway looking for food?
Yes, that is. That is Rick junior, R.J., who’s scampering around.

Is that his name, R.J.?
Yeah, his name is R.J.

What a great way to reveal that almost as an unexpected button to that scene.
We thought that was a fun thing, because we had this big reveal of Judith, so we felt like: Let’s give Judith her moment in the sun. But we started setting up really at the beginning of the season that this was something that Michonne and Rick [were interested in]. In episode 3, they go, “Well, let’s maybe start planning for the future in other ways.” That was part of their hopefulness, that they believed that they could build a world where children could thrive. The kind of tragedy of it is that Rick was not around to see this happen. But for Michonne, it’s just another person that she is fighting for, and that she wants to keep safe, but it’s part of what plays into some of the philosophy and decisions behind how Alexandria is run, which is a big part of the story going forward for the season.

Gene Page/AMC

What’s with the big X scar on Michonne’s back?
We will learn that story at some point.

Whenever the camera lingers for a second, I know there’s a story to tell.
Yes, there is. What we know is that she has a big X on her back. It wasn’t there before, so it’s something that has happened during that time jump. She alludes to it in the council room when she takes the chances of the group that’s come there. She says that she remembers and that she knows that many of them do too. They have obviously, in the six years that have passed, faced some probably human foes that have affected the way that they deal with new people and their level of trust. It’s definitely something that we’ll learn more about as the year goes on.

Michonne tells Magna’s group that she will escort them to Hilltop, where there is a woman there she thinks will take them in. Who is that woman, Angela?
Well, we will find out a lot more in the following episode what it is that people know and what they don’t, and what’s going on at the Hilltop. That’s part of the story.

Speaking of what people know, and what they don’t, and what’s moving forward, we got our first brief glimpse of the Whisperers via those talking zombies. It’s a little twist on the famous comic scene. Now we have Eugene and Rosita hiding down there in the creek. How much should we expect this Whisperers arc to line up with the way it is presented in the comic?
Some of it will be very similar and familiar to comic fans. Some of it will be quite different, but I think it’s one of my very favorite storylines from the comics. I think the feel of it will be very similar in that there’s mystery. There are some twists and turns. There are some huge reveals coming.

Before I ask specifically about what we’re going to see next week: How many girlfriends is Father Gabriel going to have this season? The guy’s a ladykiller all of a sudden! What’s going on?
He’s a player!

He is a player!
He’s a very handsome man. He found his love.

It’s the eye isn’t it? The ladies find it irresistible.
[Laughs] Yeah. There will be some hopefully some fun and unexpected things that will unfold with that story in general. I have to say, I’m really enjoying a lot of the work that Christian [Serratos], as Rosita, is doing this season. There’s some really fun stuff with her, with Eugene, and others. I look forward to people watching it because I think there’s some really, really great stuff there.

Okay, what can you tell us about next week on The Walking Dead?
There’s a really great Carol and Daryl story, which we sort of teased at the end of that episode when it turned out that Carol has taken this detour to find her old friend Daryl. We will get a better look at how he’s been living and find out more about what’s been going on in his world ever since that bridge blew up. That’s a big part of the story. We’ll also start to learn more about this new group as Michonne and Siddiq start to escort them to the Hilltop. We’ll also get some more story about Rosita and the Whisperers. Well see what’s really going on behind the scenes at the Hilltop in the time that’s passed, and the things that have changed, and the people that have had to step up, and the people who are struggling with some of those things.

I should mention our wonderful alum of the show, Michael Cudlitz, who we all know is a wonderful actor, episode 7 is his directing debut on this show. I think he just absolutely killed it. Everybody was so happy to have him back, cast and crew. He made really a wonderful episode. I’m really excited for people to see this work that he did in a new role on the show, which it’s one of the things that I’m truly loving is how much interest there is from people who have left the show as actors to maybe come back in a different role. That’s really great for all of us.

Also make sure to check out our episode Q&A with Josh McDermitt, and for more Walking Dead intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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