By Dalton Ross
October 27, 2019 at 10:04 PM EDT
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Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead titled “Silence the Whisperers.”

Perhaps it was only a matter of time: Negan has indeed killed again. Of course, there were some mitigating circumstances for the life the former Saviors leader took on Sunday’s “Silence the Whisperers” episode of The Walking Dead. For one thing, he was protecting Lydia against an attack in the middle of the night from some pissed off Alexandrians. For another, it was an accidental killing as he was pushing aside attackers to save Alpha’s daughter.

Still, it is Negan, so when the council of Alexandria had to decide whether to kill Negan as a result of his actions, the vote could have gone either way. So which way did the vote go? We never learned as Gabriel took the night to consider his tiebreaker vote, only to discover the next morning that Negan somehow escaped the cozy confines of his jail cell and was now somewhere in the wind.

Which way would Gabriel have voted? How did Negan escape? And might he be meeting up with some Whisperers soon? We asked showrunner Angela Kang all that and more, including: What’s up with that kiss between Ezekiel and Michonne? Will we get more intel on Yumiko being Magna’s pre-apocalypse lawyer? And when will we see Michonne again after her trip to Oceanside? Read on for answers and intel!

Gene Page/AMC

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, what was it like to have former series star Michael Cudlitz back again as a director for this episode?
ANGELA KANG: It was awesome. Michael’s done such a great job for us stepping into this new role as a director. He’s really done his homework over the years preparing to take on the role of a director. And he’s so good with every department. He’s very story-oriented, so he’s great with writers. He is an actor, and so he’s great with the actors. He also worked set construction back in the day, so he really understands production and how things are built and how things are made. Every arena just finds him delightful to work with. He comes in, he’s prepared, he’s incredibly professional, and it’s really fun having him around. Everybody’s so happy when he’s on-set, so it was great having him back.

I remember him telling me once that he helped build the Beverly Hills 90210 set and then later got cast on 90210.
Oh my gosh, so funny.

So we start with this montage that begins in Alexandria and then shifts to Hilltop and finally settles on Ezekiel who then hears something and goes and sees a tree has fallen down on a building. They’re all asking the question, so I’ll ask the question: Is this tree falling due to natural causes or are the Whisperers behind it?
Well, I don’t want to give away the answer to that right now, but what we’re playing in this episode and the previous episode is the way that regardless of whether it was just the tree was dying and it was its time to fall down, or there was a wind storm or whatever, or if it was sabotage — every single thing right now takes on this outside importance for all of our people. And so that’s really thematically one of the things that we wanted to deal with here is because everybody’s just amped up, and everything just seems so terrible and so scary.

In that montage, we see that there’s a lot of people who are in the middle of these communities still feeling like they’re isolated and a lot of people are feeling the weight of it all is too much because they don’t know what’s true and they feel like they’re having trouble connecting, and all of that makes for some interesting drama between our characters.

Who’s running Hilltop at this point? Who’s in charge?
There’s not really one person in charge. They have got an interim council. Yumiko certainly is very involved and has stepped up from that group’s side. People like Alden and Earl, who are long-timers there, they weigh in, and then there’s also the Kingdom contingent, and so Ezekiel and Jerry are certainly an important part of that group, but really there’s not one leader. And that’s one of the things that I think is challenging at times. You have a big event like this happen, and you feel like, okay, wow, like there are some people who need to step up and make things happen now.

Let’s get into the Ezekiel and Michonne kiss. What is the meaning behind that? Why does he kiss her, and then why does he snap out of that and apologize?
Ezekiel is clearly going through a lot right now. He’s lost so much and that character is like a Tigger, you know? He’s optimistic and he really takes on a lot of the burden of being the cheerleader for his people. But we’ve also seen that he is able to fall into pretty deep dark depressions as well. When he lost all his people during the All Out War battle on the Savior outpost, we saw that he was in a pretty bad place. So we really kind of wanted to deal with Ezekiel and where he’s at emotionally and the sense of depression and just thinking for a second then maybe he might want to end it.

And the interesting thing is the idea of doing this kiss here came about in an unusual way. I was having a conversation with Danai and she said, “You know, it’d be interesting if somebody tried to kiss Michonne and she responded.” Because Michonne’s got all of her own things that she’s dealing with and there has been no exploration of her romantic or sexual side with her since Rick’s supposed death or disappearance. And so we bounced that around and were like, “Ah, I don’t think we’re going to do that.” And then this other pitch came around, which is because we were working on this Ezekiel story, the room kind of came up with this idea of. what if Ezekiel in his depression wants to connect? He just feels so alone, and he feels so sad. He just gets some signals crossed for a second, and then immediately realizes that he kind of screwed that up and pulls back.

It becomes the start of a deeper conversation between the two of them. So we liked the idea of giving a nod to the comic book relationship between Ezekiel and Michonne. And there’s even that little nod to maybe in a parallel universe or something. So a lot of different factors went into it, but it felt like the kind of thing that sometimes happens between friends, and we thought it was an interesting thing to explore. You see Michonne being so gentle with him, knowing that it did not come out of a bad place. He’s just in so much pain and confused.

AMC

Yeah, because she doesn’t push him away or head dodge it.
No. In our story, it’s been close to seven years now since Rick’s been gone., I think in the way that Danai played it, she gives in to it for just a second. For her too, it’s the weight of leadership. For both of them, it’s nice to connect for a second, but then it’s like, no, no, no, no, this is all wrong. We don’t have those feelings for each other. So they both pull away from it. And they even joke about it afterward, you know, she tells him he’s not a bad kisser. I think it’s just one of those things that’s complex between people sometimes.

There’s this whole situation where Negan saves Lydia but accidentally kills one of her attackers and now the council has to decide whether to kill Negan. It all comes down to Gabriel’s vote, which we never get to see because Negan is gone. First question: How did Negan get out?
That is to be revealed.

It will be revealed? Okay, so we will get an answer to how he got out. Because Lydia obviously takes the fall, but we’re led to believe that it was not Lydia. Do you want to confirm it was not Lydia?
It’s not Lydia.

Okay, next question: What would Gabriel’s vote have been?
I think that Gabriel would have voted to not kill him.

Why? Because he’s a man of God?
I think because he has come to known Negan over time, and that ultimately he believed the fact that Lydia is saying, “He saved me and it was an accident,” and the fact that Daryl believes her, and the fact that he knows that Negan has been trying. I think that he would’ve thought about it and prayed on it, and woke up the next morning, and the people with their pitchforks have kind of gone to bed or whatever, and I think he would’ve felt like, “You know what? This was all just too amped up. People are too paranoid.” That’s what I think he would’ve thought in the moment.

Was he going over to that cell to have one more conversation with Negan as he was leaning towards making that decision?
I think so. And then he sees that he’s gone, and then I think he thinks like, “Oh f—. Like, was I wrong to even think that I was going to go down and have this conversation with him?” He’s second-guessing himself when he finds out that he’s gone.

Well, what can you say in terms of where Negan might have gone? Might he be meeting up with some Whisperers at some point in some capacity?
We’re going to find out very soon where he has gone.

Eliza Morse/AMC

I caught the line where Magna says to Yumiko “You’re not my lawyer anymore.” Are you gonna dole out a little more of this back story here because that’s an interesting nugget of information?
Yeah, we will dole out a little more back story with Magna and Yumiko. We wanted to deal with it as sort of like an organic fashion as possible, since they’ve been together so long that they wouldn’t just kind of come out and say “Here’s the back story of how we know each other.” We know now that Yumiko was her lawyer. We do know from last season that Magna, at some point, was in jail for something. And so that says something about what the nature of their relationship started as. It was not a relationship of equals, necessarily, so in the complicated ways that people come together in the apocalypse, obviously, a lot of things have changed between them, but there’s clearly still some deep, difficult feelings that Magna’s certainly dealing with about all of that.

We see Michonne, Judith and Luke head off to Oceanside. We also know Danai is only doing a handful of episodes this season. Does this mean it may be a bit before we see Michonne again? Yeah, we won’t be seeing her in the next episode. We will pick up on those adventures again soon, but not right away. There will be some other storylines where we’re getting into in the meantime.

Well, then what can you tell us in terms of what’s coming up next on The Walking Dead?
We’re going to have some fun with Negan, so we’ll really get to see [Jeffrey Dean Morgan] doing his thing. I don’t want to give too much away there, but there’s some of my favorite stuff with him in the next episode. And then we’ll also be following stories of some of our other folks that we’ve been tracking along all of this. We’ll see Darryl and the Hilltoppers trying to figure some things out as well. I’m excited for people to watch it.

For more Walking Dead scoop, 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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