The Walking Dead boss answers midseason finale burning questions
One good death deserves another. The aftermath of Whisperer spy Dante strangling Siddiq on last week’s episode of The Walking Dead was immediately picked up in equally disturbing fashion on Sunday’s “The World Before” midseason finale.” While Rosita — who had stopped by to check in on the father of her baby — struggled for her life against Dante, zombie Siddiq made a move to go eat his own daughter.
In the end, Rosita put down her former lover and beat the crap out of the man who killed him. That was only the beginning of the bad news for Dante, who was eventually stabbed, like, a million times by Father Gabriel in a shocking display of violence for the priest that ended the double-agent’s life.
Elsewhere, Michonne and company came across a stranger named Virgil attempting to gather supplies to bring back for his family. Michonne agreed to help him in return for weapons at a naval base that could help turn the tide in the war against Alpha. But as the last Walking Dead episode of the decade ended, Daryl, Carol, and others found themselves trapped in a subterranean cave surrounded by walkers after Carol chased a fleeing Alpha, who may have been luring them into a trap.
We went to showrunner Angela Kang for answers and insight into all that and more, as well as a sneak peek at what to expect when the show returns for the second half of season 10 in 2020. Read on for intel! (Also read our midseason finale interview with Juan Javier Cardenas, who played Dante.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You start the episode with zombie Siddiq trying to eat his own baby. That’s pretty messed up, Angela.
ANGELA KANG: Yeah, it is. And I think Avi did an amazing job as both live Siddiq and zombie Siddiq. We really wanted to, with that story, play the heartbreak of it and the idea that somebody that has so much humanity, it could be stripped away in such a way. I think it was very touching for us — moving in this really strange and sad way. So kudos to everybody who pulled off something that’s a very kind of disturbing image. And the very sweet, adorable baby who actually is one of the happiest babies we’ve ever had on set. It was sad to see Avi in that state, actually. It was very strange.
Everyone is brutalizing Dante here in the aftermath of him killing Siddiq. Rosita messes him up, then Daryl takes his shots, and then Gabriel brutally stabs the life out of him over and over again. What’s that about on the part of the priest, as he seems to be talking about this being his second chance?
We’re drawing a line in Gabriel’s mind between this and what happened with Negan when Negan escaped. Negan is still out there, and our people don’t exactly know what he’s been up to. The audience obviously knows that he’s kind of in with the Whisperers and there’s a story that’s playing out there. And I think for Gabriel, he’s come to a place where he tries to be moral, he tries to be reasoned and fair and think things through. He feels that the hesitation that he had of not deciding the night of the incident with Negan and Margo and Lydia, that maybe his hesitation, in some way, led to Negan being out there, and who knows what kind of situation that may have caused for our heroes.
So he’s obviously got a very close tie to Siddiq. He considers Siddiq like family. And he just loses it in the moment, you know? I really love how Seth played this moment. There’s this sort of chilling quality to him, to Gabriel, at that moment that I think is really interesting. And one of the things we were playing with from the writer’s side is, let’s not forget that this is the priest who did something pretty dark at the start of the apocalypse. He locked his own congregation out to save himself. And in a lot of ways, so much of his story has been about trying to redeem himself for that.
But that says that there is something in him that is capable of darkness, you know? And so we thought that it was interesting to explore that with this character as he’s feeling pushed from all sides and just to realize that he feels, as a leader of this community, he has failed his people and he’s failed somebody that he considers family. And what could that force you to do?
And let’s expand on that in terms of the family, because I was curious about Rosita’s reaction when she sees him walking out there with the blood all over him and then joins him by the body burning later.’ Cause she’s someone who we saw, in her past, go on that mission to take out Negan. So, there’s a streak in her of wanting vengeance. So what is her reaction when she sees he’s done that?
Gabriel and Rosita are not, in some ways, the most obvious couple, and that is actually a dynamic that we’re purposely playing. There are moments where they don’t always see eye to eye. There’s a generational difference. I think that really Rosita feels a little distant from him at times. And then the fact that Gabriel took care of business with Dante is something that oddly makes her feel close to him in that moment. ‘Cause yeah, Rosita does have a little bit of that sort of like lone wolf streak in her. She’s not necessarily opposed to vigilante justice.
So I have to know now that he’s dead. Did Dante actually have a son?
I think Dante did have a son. And I think that he is probably somebody that has some darkness in him. In my mind, I do think he had a son and I do think any emotion he had about the loss of that son was real. And then maybe that’s what drove him into the arms of the Whisperers. But I think the interesting thing about Dante is there’s a lot of what we saw of Dante that was really him or a version of him. But clearly, there was a very, very dark underbelly that he was also hiding at the same time. But yeah, I think he had a son.
So we meet Virgil in this episode. He’s talking about wanting to bring supplies back for the family and then he says that line “Mercy is in short supply these days.” Which immediately sort of serves as a callback to Rick’s “My mercy prevails over my wrath” line that he picked up from Siddiq from a few seasons back. Where did the idea come from to link those two in that way?
We were thinking for a while that it’d be interesting if, in some way, this character just kind of triggers thoughts about the past for Michonne. Just about all kinds of things. And so “mercy prevails over my wrath” — obviously that’s tied to Rick, but it was first uttered by Siddiq. To give an eye into our process, at first, we were going to play a version where maybe Michonne and that group was sort of siloed from the information about Siddiq. But in talking with Danai, she felt like she wanted to be able to honor her connection to Siddiq, which I think was a really valuable thought. Because there is this very deep connection to her family and Carl. Siddiq was really important to Carl.
And so then he was really important to Rick and Michonne too. And I think being able to have this comment that immediately ties both the love of her life and this dear friend who was like family to her who just died — it all kind of worked. It just felt like it kind of did this nice triple duty in the moment and our actors did an amazing job playing it.
So they’re now heading into the Chesapeake Bay to Bloodsworth Island. How long is it going to be before we see Michonne and Virgil again?
We will check back in on that story, but it won’t be the first episode back in the next season. I’ll say that. There’s a little time while they’re journeying.
So we learn Gamma’s real name is Mary and she tells Aaron where the herd is. Aaron brings the group there. There’s no herd. Daryl thinks they’ve been double-crossed, but Aaron says, “No, I’m right.” So I’ll ask you: Is Aaron right?
The story will get into that. So he certainly is very certain that he is, and some of the others are very certain that he’s not. But time will tell.
You have this moment where Carol runs after Alpha and then everyone runs after Carol and they all fall into this sort of cave with a subterranean herd. Was that all intentional by Alpha? Was she using herself as bait to lure them after her and then down below? Was it all a clearly engineered plan?
I feel like from Alpha’s side she was trying to lure them. But it remains to be seen whether that was all part of a larger plan or kind of circumstance. If you watch the section where Alpha is running, she does almost what I find a slightly comical version of a run. She almost looks like she’s prancing for a couple of steps. So I sort of feel like she’s playing it. Like, “Come on, come on after me.” It’s interesting.
It’s funny you mentioned that, because I specifically noticed that. I was like, “Well, that was awkward.”
It’s sort of not a bad ass run. But I honestly think that’s the actor’s choice and I was like, “Oh that’s interesting. It’s kind of a funny way to run.”
Okay, we end on this cliffhangery situation as they’re all down there in that cave surrounded by walkers. What can you tell us in terms of how things are going to pick back up, and then what else we can expect in the second half of season 10?
We’ve trapped a bunch of people in a cave full of walkers, so we have to tell that story. So, that’s definitely going to be a big part of when we pick back up. Obviously, we have Negan embedded with the Whisperers, so we’ll continue to kind of tell the story that’s involved there. And then, not necessarily specific to the episode back, but just as a whole, at this point now some lines have been crossed, right? The border has been crossed by both sides. There have been these acts of war and so things are now escalating very, very fast. And we kind of get to the big conflict between the Whisperers and our people.
It’s going to come to a head in the back half and we’ll see how that plays out. And hopefully, there are some interesting twists and turns and surprises along the way. We will deal with what happens with Michonne and Virgil and the rest of that journey. And it’s been announced that this is Danai’s last year on the program. So, we’ll send her off. We’ll also follow some other threads that have been started in the first half such as the radio story. I think there’s a lot of really exciting stuff to come. I’ve been watching the episodes as they come in and I’m pretty proud of the work that our cast and crew have been doing. So hopefully people are entertained as we play out the rest of the season.