The Walking Dead showrunner says the Leah story is not over
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday's episode The Walking Dead titled "Find Me."
Sunday's March 7th "Find Me" episode of The Walking Dead showed what happened to Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) in those five years during which he left Alexandria to be by himself in the woods while searching for Rick (Andrew Lincoln). And what happened was…LOVE! Or at least some sort of emotional connection with a woman named Leah (Lynn Collins) who was shacked up in a cabin dealing with her own loss.
The backstory ended with Daryl leaving a missing Leah a note that read "I belong with you. Find me" written on a map. But will we ever find Leah again? When we spoke with Norman Reedus, the actor hinted that there may be more to come with Leah, mentioning that the Daryl and Leah encounter is "not really what it seems to be."
Showrunner Angela Kang similarly teases that there is more to come with the Leah storyline. "I hope that where the story eventually goes proves interesting and surprising," Kang tells EW. So does that mean we will see Leah — either dead or alive — again? "I'll just say to watch season 11 as that comes along," Kang cagily tells EW.
But that's not all Kang has to say. The showrunner tells EW all about episode 1018 and that big verbal dust-up between Daryl and Carol (Melissa McBride), as well as what is still to come in the bonus batch of season 10 episodes. Read on for intel and insight.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What made you decide to go back and show what Daryl was doing during these years where he was out looking for Rick? Was it always the plan to visit this time or did the extra episodes here sort of present an opportunity to do that?
ANGELA KANG: So here's what I'll say: This episode is one that we were always planning as part of season 11. Not in this exact form, but we were always planning a version of this story for season 11, the flashback. And so, people can take from that what they will. I think the way that we structured it for these, some things changed obviously, because of the restrictions that we had to work under. There are some things that we probably would have built out a little bit more and a little bit differently. So there's that kind of change, due to the time in which we were filming it, but there is some significance to this past story or future story.
And so, there's just this weird blank where Daryl was the mountain man out there. And so, we've always kind of wanted to explore at some point, what was Daryl's state when he was out there and how connected was he to his group? What happened? Where did the dog come from? And so, those were all things that we'd planned to tell a story about. And then there are twists to come, with the fallout from this. But yeah, it's something that we were always interested in exploring.
Daryl has never had a real love interest on the show, and we know Norman is very protective of that, so what was his reaction when you told him about this storyline with him and Leah? I could see him being a little worried at first.
Yeah, I think so. I mean, honestly, he's very protective and a little itchy. But I think that for Norman, he's very protective of the idea that Daryl is very loyal, which I agree with. I'm fully on that, but it's also like, there's elements of Daryl's story that we just haven't really touched on in some ways. And I think that also Norman is often worried about stories until we've done them.
People also feel like they have investment in Daryl story, which I understand. Those of us that have been working on the show for a decade plus, we care so deeply about these characters, but there are times when the fans are not happy with how we've written certain things. And there've been different fandoms wanting to ship Daryl with one character or another that are angry with another faction. And I totally love and respect everybody that is that deeply invested in it, but I hope that where the story eventually goes proves interesting and surprising. But yeah, it's definitely a source of debate, that's for sure.
Daryl leaves Leah that note with a map saying "I belong with you. Find me." So is this his true post-apocalyptic love?
I would say there was a very particular period of time, where things were pretty dark for both Daryl and this character, Leah. And I would just say that when things are intense and knowing that Daryl has not been in a lot of relationships, I think that there's a particular intensity. There's also this element of that it's sort of a subjective memory that we're getting to experience this through. We don't tell the story through an objective lens. So I think he felt like he was broken by the fact that she just disappeared without a trace, and he hoped that they would find each other. But I can't say that any of it is objectively his true love in the apocalypse.
You've alluded to the fact that this story will play out more. So does that mean we will be seeing Leah again, either dead or alive, at some point?
I'll just say to watch season 11 as that comes along.
Let's talk about the big blow up between Daryl and Carol at the end, which was very jarring to see. Where is this coming from and what does it mean moving forward as he tells her to go ahead and run away and she says, "Our luck's run out." Obviously, these two have a long history. What can you say about what led us here and where it's going?
I think we were exploring this idea that Daryl is so reluctant to say certain things that are hard to Carol, because he cares about her so much. And through a lot of season 10, Carol just was struggling with grief, and she made some decisions that were heartbreaking for Daryl. And I think as he's going to this place that holds these difficult memories for him, and she's kind of poking at him emotionally, gently, because it's Carol, but at the same time, he's feeling a little cornered in the moment. And it starts to spill out into these other things. Because really, is this really about him and this particular one trigger? It's like she practically begged him to yell at her about the explosion when Connie (Lauren Ridloff) was lost in the cave.
The audience has seen now that Connie is alive, but Daryl still doesn't know yet, what has become of her, and neither does the audience at this point. And so, all of that emotion is also kind of playing into this. And I think we just wanted to explore the fact that when people are so close like that, it's just sometimes they tell each other really uncomfortable things.
In my mind, I don't necessarily think there's a total finale in it, because the next moment after these things are said, Carol's like, "I got to fix the door." Because they know that they're going to stay there that night. They've got to make it work. But Carol has some things that she's trying to grapple with, and Daryl has some things he's trying to grapple with. And they're so close that any little thing can feel so painful to them both. But it's part of what we plan as a larger arc for these two. They are such good friends at the end of the day, but sometimes they've said things to each other that might be a little hard to deal with in the near term.
Okay, two episodes down in this bonus batch of six, so what's coming up next?
What's coming up next is we've got this really classic, on the road, survival story, starring Aaron and Gabriel, and the amazing Robert Patrick, who's our guest star. And I really love this episode. It's kind of getting into just the basics of finding food, and how do you survive when everything's kind of a mess?
And then we've got an episode that deals with the group that found themselves surrounded by a bunch of troopers in white armor in episode 1016. So that's our Eugene and Yumiko and Princess and Ezekiel group. It's more Princess focused, but everybody kind of takes a part in this. And they're trying to figure out what's the deal with these people, as they are being questioned for what they're doing there. It's just high tension and high stakes for them.
We then have an episode with Daryl and Carol dealing with kind of the fallout from this conversation and their own ways, and it's sort of a lighter episode for us, in some ways, while still dealing with some of the emotions that they're going through. And then there's "Here's Negan," which is fantastic with Jeffrey Dean Morgan getting to take center stage as Negan.