The latest Walking Dead episode was originally a lot different
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday's episode The Walking Dead titled "Diverged."
Sunday's "Diverged" episode of The Walking Dead picked up right where the "Find Me" episode from a few weeks before left off, with Daryl and Carol in the awkward aftermath of the big argument at the cabin.
But the duo was soon separated. Carol headed back to Alexandria and waged war with a pesky rat as she attempted to cook her problems away in the kitchen, while Daryl got sidetracked on a mission to fix his broken motorcycle. Both stories mirrored each other — at one point with the characters even uttering the same line of dialogue — and were told almost simultaneously, cutting back and forth between the locations as Daryl and Carol dealt with their particular emotional and mechanical issues. The mirroring effect was complete as the episode ended with Daryl and Carol closing their individual Alexandria doors at the same time — closing themselves off from each other as well.
But that's not how the episode was originally supposed to go. As showrunner Angela Kang tells EW, instead of cutting back and forth between the two stories as often as it did, "Diverged" was conceived as having a much different structure.
"I'll just give you a fun behind the scenes fact," says Kang. "We actually had a very different structure to this episode. They were in this short story structure where there were separate little vignettes and there were sort of like bookends and a middle piece. But with the way filming turned out, the pieces were so uneven, so we were like, 'You know what, actually, let's just intercut the whole thing, but we'll intercut it in a way where those pieces all feel they're feeding into each other emotionally.' And then the way that Bear McCreary instinctively scored it, it connected so much better that way at the end of the day."
The mirroring effect took flight once the episode was completely re-edited. "We definitely wanted to purposely have these moments where they're so similar that they'd even just have similar reactions to certain things," Kang says. "So that even on their own, their own little things, they're just connected psychologically. Daryl's thinking about her, she's thinking about him, and she's got his little Swiss Army knife in that story. That's how it came about. We knew that we were limited in terms of scope of episode, and so using what sets and backlot locations we could, we thought it would really be more about where they were emotionally as people and friends."
Kang's revelation once again highlights the fact that an episode of TV — like when TWD producers decided late in the game to do all the season 8 premiere ("First Time Again") flashback scenes in black and white — often comes together as much in the editing room as it does during filming on set. Here's what else Kang had to say about the latest installment of The Walking Dead.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me about putting together an episode that really mirrors these two stories between Daryl and Carol.
ANGELA KANG: The idea of the episode came about because they obviously had this big fight at the end of "Find Me", and these two have such a deep relationship after many, many years. They care about each other so much, but that was a painful one, and how do you repair something like that? So we thought that it'd be interesting to just show, by virtue of putting them apart, the loneliness that they have and the pain of being a lone wolf. And in their own way, they're both just trying to fix things, but what they really need to do is fix their friendship.
And I think for Carol, the things that Daryl said to her were about, "You just want to run away from Alexandria because you can't stand looking at it." And so there she is in Alexandria and she's forced to look at it and start her own journey of trying to repair those things that she feels like she had some sort of hand in breaking, whether or not that's true. We thought we'd do these very simple stories.
What's with Carol's attack on the drywall then?
We talked a while back about, where's Carol at? And she has been through such a journey in the wake of Henry's head being discovered on a spike, dealing with Alpha and the Whisperers. And helping to complete that mission to make sure that that problem is taken care of for her people. But it's taken a real emotional toll. And we had talked about very early on in the writers' room, do you ever have those days where all you want to do is punch a hole in the wall? And how people actually do that sometimes, they'll punch a hole in the wall. Or wouldn't it be interesting to see somebody just tear a room apart?
And so this idea of this rat, which it's like the ghost that's haunting her in this episode — she gets a little obsessive about the rat, but really it's not about the rat at all. It's just like the rat is a symbol of the worry she has about Alexandria falling apart. The rat is eating up their grain and she's seeing that they're in a problem with food, and all of it just feels so much to surmount. In some ways, she wants to pound out and scream at Daryl or herself or whatever, and instead, she just takes it out on this poor piece of drywall. But it's one of those larger in life moments where sometimes people wish could do that, but very rarely actually do it. And for Carol, she's reached that point where she's like, "F--- it, let me punch through this wall." Then she goes about fixing it all because I think that that's very much her. She wants to clean up her own messes and so it's very like her to then go like, "Okay, I got it out of my system, what do I do next?"
So in terms of getting it out of her system then, later she asked the question to Jerry: Is she broken? What do you make of that? Is she broken or is this somewhat out of her system in terms of the larger issue?
I think it's a little of both, I think for Carol, we've tried to play that this person who has survived so much trauma and sometimes struggled with depression and things like that, but Jerry is somebody that she cares about and who cares about her, so she's able to be really open about it. But also with Carol, she is a person who finds ways to bounce back, even if internally there's turmoil. For us, Carol's got to get her mojo back, and so that's the path that she's on. But I think she wants to know that her friends are still there and she wants to be there for them. It's just a vulnerable moment, but Carol is Carol and at the end of the day, she's really strong and smart and I think she will find a way to pull herself back up, the way she always has.
It's a really interesting episode tonally because there's a little danger with the Daryl stuff when he's going down to that military walker to get those tools, but in terms of the Carol stuff, you have a lot of lighter moments. There's definitely some comedy happening between Carol and Jerry, and the big rat chase is played somewhat comedically. What's it like when you guys do decide to have some fun in an episode like that?
We felt that it was so heavy in the last scene with Daryl and Carol in "Find Me." And Melissa is so funny. She's really one of the funniest people in the cast, in this very rye way, and we've also shown that Carol herself is a character who has these odd moments of humor. Just the fact that she was willing to be married to Ezekiel and be at the Kingdom, which is just this incredibly over the top, a joyful community, she has to have a sense of humor. So we thought that it'd be fun to have her in the middle of a story that, in some ways feels lighter, and yet that's how she's processing all this stuff that's just churning in her right now.
And that she can recognize that Jerry's funny sometimes. And it's a little funny that she's getting this rat and going to all this trouble and she's just trying to make a pot of soup and it all goes wrong. But we just felt that rather than going the direction of she's just sitting there in a dark funk, we just thought it was worth experimenting with something that was a little bit lighter in tone for her side of the story.
So then, where are Daryl and Carol after the events of this episode? I mean, no one actually apologized to anyone else and Carol says, "Apologies are nothing more than a truce anyway." So is this a truce? Is that where they're at now even though the words "I'm sorry" weren't said?
Yeah, I'd say that that's kind of accurate. I think that there is some pain there because there wasn't an apology, but this is a very, very long friendship. And they're there, they're cordial, but there's that little piece of like, it still kind of feels bad right now. And when there is something that feels painful and it's everybody's taken a second to take it in and to deal with it, there's some awkwardness there. But we purposely tried to show that they're still friendly with each other.
And David Boyd who directed it, found this really interesting way to get both that side gate and the garage door because what we did want to show is that they go off into their own spaces, but we thought those spaces were going to be really far apart and you'd have to do some crazy way of cutting it or doing the camera. And he was like, "Oh no, that door and that garage are right by each other," so he got it all in one shot really elegantly. That was really the feeling that we wanted, is they're so close and yet they're not on the same page.
I hope you're ready for the Carol and Dog shippers you're going to get now. They're going to be called Cog, Angela.
Cog! The Dog and Carol are actually pretty great. We loved making Dog a character in this episode too. He's got a very particular thing going on. He's got this very expressive face and so there are some really funny moments with Dog where he's just staring at her and doing his thing and ripping apart the room. It was fun to see those two.