The Walking Dead showrunner on Dante's secret revenge
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday’s “Stalker” episode of The Walking Dead.
Dante may be gone, but the Whisperer super spy is still wreaking havoc in Alexandria, even after his death. On Sunday’s “Stalker’ episode of The Walking Dead, Beta entered inside the walls of Alexandria thanks to a secret trap-door that Dante built into the grave of a patient he killed. That allowed Beta to murder several Alexandrians and then capture Gamma, who had defected to the other side. (Luckily for Gamma, she was able to escape thanks to the timely intervention of Gabriel and company, while Beta remains on the loose.)
We asked showrunner Angela Kang all about the inspiration for and execution of the Alexandria invasion as well as the blood-soaked battle between Daryl and Alpha, that ended with a timely intervention of its own.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with the Daryl versus Alpha fight. Why did you decide to have these two face off at this point?
ANGELA KANG: It was actually something that we questioned like, “Should we?” And then we’re like, “We really want to put these two in a scene,” because Daryl was the one that Alpha took to the edge of the cliff and kind of said, “Here’s my horde,” basically. So it feels like as all these things are spinning out and Carol is just so determined to take out the Whisperers and the threat of the horde and everything that crashing these two leaders together, it felt like it would be a good time to do it.
But it’s also complicated between the two of them. They’re both so formidable that we were asking ourselves the question, “How do you get into a fight with the two of them, without both of them dying, or one of them dying?” The answer was kind of, “I think they get so badly wounded that they are both at the brink of death, and what does that story look like?” That’s where the story started from. It really became a showcase for those performances, which I thought was really exciting.
Tell me about deciding to do the point-of-view shots with the bloody obscured vision after Alpha slices Daryl’s face.
Oh, you know what? The funny thing is, is that sequence changed a few times in the course of things. I think that it came out of discussion with my writer Jim Barnes. We were trying to fake something actually. He was like, “What if we, in the story, have this bloody vision, because otherwise why doesn’t Daryl just kill Alpha right away?” We had fun with it in post because it gave us an opportunity to do something that we haven’t really done before.
But it came out of this idea of in the choreography, which was very complicated: How is it that Daryl doesn’t see Alpha? And we’re like, “Oh no, she would slice him to make it so that he can’t easily see.” She’s in a cat and mouse and he’s like, “I just want to kill you.” So these two people have different fighting styles in this fight, so we’re negotiating between the two of them. We had a little fun with doing some new types of VFX and the sequence.
Later on, when Lydia shows up and Alpha’s trying to get Lydia to kill her, is that almost the final step in trying to turn her to the dark side and take her place? Is she trying to make her take that final leap and replace her as the Alpha?
That’s kind of where we got to, which is if you’re Alpha and you think you’re dying and your daughter comes, what is it that Alpha really wants when it comes to Lydia? It feels like what she wants. In Alpha’s mind, she was doing all of this for Lydia and she wants Lydia to carry on her mantle. That would be the only way that she wants to die. But to make that happen, it all gets so screwed up because, of course, there would be a part of Lydia that’s tempted to just end it, but the darkness it would take to kill your own mother, even a mother that’s as villainous and screwed up as Alpha is — It’s like Alpha’s telling her, “Do this so that you become like me.”
What kind of a thing is that to lay on your teenage daughter? Lydia is at heart, this very good person who wants to be a good person and who wants to be part of this group that is more of a family than she’s ever had with her own mother. It’s just the darkness of what Alpha’s asking her to do, she has to fight it, because she doesn’t want to be dragged down to the same level as her mother, where nothing matters other than just the survival of the fittest. And she’s trying to reject that philosophy, but it puts her in a very, very painful compromised position.
So when Lydia does not do that and Alpha wakes up and Lydia is gone, we see her starting back up with the old Whisperer mantra there. After this whole experience and everything that happened with Daryl and then with her daughter, where is Alpha now?
We see her with the mantra. I think Alpha, with this moment with Lydia, there was a part of her, after she basically let Lydia go off to be with our people, that always believed that she was almost sent off on a Whisperer Rumspringa, like, “Go off Lydia. You’re going to see how terrible the world is and it’s all going to go the way that I said. It’s all going to fall.” And she was trying to sabotage it, right? But now I think she’s at a point where she realizes that her daughter might be lost to her. So that’s gonna change the equation quite a bit.
The idea of Beta entering Alexandria through the grave that Dante dug. It was like a classic horror move. Tell me where that whole concept came from.
Yeah, it’s really fun. My writer Jim Barnes had this great idea of doing a classic horror movie in the walls of Alexandria, where Beta is stalking our people. I was like, “I love this idea, but how does he get in?” So we threw out a lot of ideas. I actually think it might have been that I was like, “You know what would be so great is I love the idea of him coming through a grave,” but Jim and the writers solved it and was like, “Yeah, if Dante created this back door because he was screwing things up for them.” He killed this woman Cheryl and then he dug the grave‚ because who’s going to look in a grave? We also wanted to make sure our people didn’t look dumb either. Once they knew that Dante had been sabotaging things in Alexandria, they would have looked. But you’re not going to check in a grave necessarily.
It just came about from a lot of the conversations of, “How do we make sure that our people are protected and they just didn’t miss something obvious? And how do we also make the Whisperers clever, because they are really good bad villains?” It’s in a fun way that all these things ever developed, amongst the writers in the room. It was all sort of a group project, to figure it out, and just a good image.
Okay, give us a quick preview for what’s coming up next?
Alpha has had this confrontation with her daughter and we heard Michonne say early in the season, “We got to make sure Lydia stays safe because she’s some protection for us basically.” So now everything’s going to change, and this war with the Whisperers is really going to heat up. In the next episode, we’re going to see what happens when our people are convinced that the Whisperers are on their way and that really becomes the major story going forward. And then all of the fallout from that happens as our two societies really clash in a big way.
For more Walking Dead intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.