The Walking Dead showrunner on that freaky naked Negan–Alpha scene
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday’s midseason premiere of The Walking Dead titled “Squeeze.”
The Walking Dead’s midseason premiere was certainly not for the claustrophobic. The episode’s title, “Squeeze,” probably should have been a warning. The group, stuck in a cave with a hungry horde in November’s midseason finale, had to navigate their way out without being devoured — and that meant going through some extremely dark and narrow crevices. That proved especially difficult for Carol, who it turns out is not a fan of small, enclosed spaces. Carol was also dealing with the fact that she had led her friends to their potential doom in the first place, and then delayed their escape when she snuck back to try and take out the horde. That delay proved costly when the roof collapsed… before Connie and Magna had to chance to get out.
What is the fate of the missing pair? And what does the calamity mean for Carol and Daryl moving forward? We asked TWD showrunner Angela Kang about that and a whole lot more, including that super freaky-deaky naked pre-sex scene between Alpha and Negan. Does the zombie mask action really turn Negan on? Read on to find out.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, we end with Connie and Magna buried in that cave. So are they buried alive or are they buried dead?
ANGELA KANG: Well, I can’t say exactly what that is, but I’ll say that certainly some of our people really do believe they’re alive because they didn’t see the rocks fall on them. But it’s a pretty bad situation because they very well could be dead. That is part of the story in some episodes to come. It’s definitely a big part of where people are emotionally, and as Carol grapples with the guilt of possibly having killed these two people — or left them trapped in potentially a situation where they might die, even if they did survive the rock fall — that drives a lot of the story moving forward.
Same thing for Daryl having some ties to these people and also feeling like maybe he didn’t prevent this thing from happening in time. Then, obviously, Kelly is Connie’s sister, and Yumiko with Magna and that complicated relationship. There’s a lot of people who are affected by the events of this episode.
Let’s drill down a little more on a few of them, especially Carol. She’s obviously been in this very laser-focused revenge mindset against Alpha, and now, in a few ways, it has cost them. When all is said and done after those rocks come down, what is this going to do to her moving forward? Is this going to deepen her funk, or is this going to snap her out of it?
For Carol, she has been so driven by vengeance against Alpha, so there are a couple of things that happen from this. We’ve been thinking of this moment like this is her rock bottom. It’s almost like she’s addicted to the idea of revenge against Alpha, and she’s been spiraling and going kind of darker. The thing with a story about vengeance is of course it’s really satisfying to think, “Yeah, get revenge against the people who’ve wronged you and who’ve killed those you love” and all of that.
But vengeance is complicated and there’s got to be consequences to it because you can have blinders on. So that’s part of the story that we’re telling with Carol. Now in some ways, she’s motivated more than ever to try to finish this mission, because otherwise it was all for nothing. And yet she knows that she has things that she needs to repair. She knows that she’s going to want to redeem herself at the same time. I think Melissa does a beautiful job playing all these complicated layers of the character throughout the season. So we will see Carol pursuing multiple things for the rest of the season. There’s obviously the Alpha of it and the Whisperers, but there’s also the feeling of, “I might need to make things better with some of the people that I love too.” Lots to come for Carol.
Well, let’s talk about that a little bit in terms of making things better for people she loves with the Daryl aspect of it. It’s really interesting because you started off the season with these big friendship scenes of them talking about how “You’re my best friend. Let’s go out West.” Now you cut to this episode and he’s saying, “I can’t even turn my back on you. I don’t even know what to do anymore.” Then we get to the end and she’s sobbing at him to put the blame on her, but he won’t do it. So where are these two now in terms of their relationship?
I think that this is a low point for them. We really wanted to explore their friendship in a deep way this season because I think it’s one of the most interesting relationships that we have on the show. It’s a long relationship. They’ve been through so much together. There’s friends who are really just kind of a step above acquaintances and it’s fun with them, but I think friendship in the deepest sense, people have to be able to tell each other the truth and have these feelings with each other and go through things, because otherwise, when we talk about friendship in the deepest sense, is that friendship?
So we wanted to show the fun part of their friendship, which they’ve always had this kind of playful thing since season 3, and yet also Daryl feels like he’s got to tell her the truth, which is that he sees her on a self-destructive path. She’s got to be honest with him at moments going like, “Here’s what I’m feeling. Here’s my pain. She killed my boy.” And then it’s like she wants him to punish her. There’s so much complication between them, but I think that’s what true friendship is. And especially in this apocalypse, they have each other’s backs, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy or pretty.
There are moments like this where the betrayal feels so deep and so bad, and where the guilt is so deep and so bad for Carol. They’re going to have to work their way through that in whatever way that they do. That’s definitely part of the emotional story that continues on through the season.
Let’s move over to a very different duo. I want to ask about a few of these Negan-Alpha scenes. The first one is where he tells her there’s a spy in the camp and it could be Gamma. Then she pulls a knife on his crotch and pushes him into a pile of feces. Is this just a bizarre courtship ritual that’s happening here?
I think with these two, Negan is this alpha male and Alpha is an alpha female. There’s a lot of twisted stuff between the two of them. I think something that’s really interesting about Negan in the way that we played him in the show: He is very drawn to powerful people. In some ways, you could say maybe that was his Achilles heel in the war, which is that he was constantly trying to turn our people to his side because he’s drawn to that.
For Alpha, she doesn’t respect weak people either. She thought that her husband was weak. She doesn’t respect the person who shows weakness, and yet she’s got to show her alpha-ness too. You’ve got the two of them sort of feeling each other out. The funny thing is I think both of them really do have this respect for each other. He likes strong women and she likes strong, powerful men. There’s a bit of a courtship going on obviously. There’s something going on between them. But Negan also likes the fact that he was able to be valuable to her. Negan wants to be able to tell everybody what’s what, and to be listened to means a lot to him, even if it does mean he’s got to get a knife to the groin and shoved in the pile of s—. That’s all part of the dance.
Let’s talk about that super disturbing naked soon-to-be sex scene with the mask on. That is all kinds of messed-up, Angela.
Yeah, we’ve been talking in the room about, “It feels like we’ve got to get to some sort of weird sex scene with them.” But David Johnson, who wrote the script, he was like, “Okay, here’s my take on it.” And I was like, “This is so weird. I don’t know if I can air this. You know what? We kind of have to do this.” I think it really tracks with who Alpha is. She’s very survival of the fittest and nature’s way is the right way. There is some hypocrisy in the things that she says sometimes, but I think that for the most part, she is a cult leader who’s a true believer of her own word.
To her, I don’t know, animals have sex. She probably has had sex with people over the years and it’s just sort of like this transactional thing, but I do think that she’s drawn to Negan and his strength. He was very helpful to her at a time when she feels a little bit under siege. So there’s that. And then for Negan, she has him pinned, he’s a crass man. He says himself, “It’s been a long time.” Their weirdness is something that we really have enjoyed exploring.
Do you think he actually is turned on by the mask?
I do think so! I think Negan’s into some funky stuff.
What can you say about what’s coming up next?
Alpha and Negan, obviously something has shifted in that relationship. So we’ll see in the season going forward where that takes us. The following episode is one that I think is really cool. We have a horror movie in Alexandria, which I think is really pretty fun. And we follow Daryl, because he wants to know what has become of Connie and Magna in this cave. That takes him on a different route though. And this whole thing with the Whisperers just continues to heat up and explode into in a very Whisperer-specific way. At some point in the back half, we will also get back to the story of Michonne and this side trip that she’s on, and the consequences of that.