The Walking Dead showrunner reveals what that final coin flip was for
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Warning: This article contains spoilers for Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead, "Acts of God."
Lance Hornsby loooooooooves to flip a coin. Why make a decision when you can allow the coin to do it for you? And Sunday's midseason finale of The Walking Dead ended with just such a flip. But what was the decision being made as the coin tumbled in the air?
The episode, "Acts of God," showed battles being waged against the Commonwealth both inside and outside the community. Within the walls of the Commonwealth, Max (Margot Bingham) procured some of her boss' secret documents, which gave Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and company the ammunition to run a jaw-dropping article in the newspaper under the headline "Pamela Milton is Lying to You."
While the pen is mighty, guns proved mightier outside, where Lance (Josh Hamilton) and Leah (Lynn Collins) joined forces to kill Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and take over the Hilltop while locusts swarmed overhead. Leah captured Maggie and was on the verge if killing her when her former flame Daryl (Norman Reedus) stepped in and shot Leah dead.
And Daryl wasn't done shooting. He then shot Lance Hornsby in the face. But when all was said and done, Hornsby and Commonwealth soldiers had taken over Alexandria, the Hilltop, and Oceanside. And the episode ended with Oceanside residents (who weren't even involved in any sort of resistance against the Commonwealth) as prisoners and Hornsby flipping that coin in the air.
So what was the decision that the coin would settle? We asked showrunner Angela Kang what was at stake with that coin flip, and she revealed all: "He's flipping the coin to decide whether they're going to live or die."
Yep, those poor Oceansiders who were just hanging out minding their own business might now be doomed simply because they followed Maggie's lead in not signing up to join the Commonwealth. Doesn't seem fair. Which I suppose is somewhat ironic seeing as how the 50-50 chance of a coin flip is, by definition, fair. Damn you, Lance Hornsby and your even-steven odds!
We'll have to wait until The Walking Dead returns with its final batch of eight episodes to see if the Oceansiders live or die. In the meantime, we also asked Kang to answer a few other burning questions about the finale. Questions like… Has Maggie forgiven Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)? Did Daryl hesitate before killing Leah? And what can we expect in the final eight episodes? (Also check out our episode interview with Lauren Cohan.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So… why locusts?
ANGELA KANG: This was a pitch that came out of the writers' room. And I thought that it was interesting because it kind of dealt with some of the things that we've been talking about a lot, which is that walkers are obviously a problem and people are a problem, but it's not only that. The entire world is a problem for our people.
There are so many things that we have in place in civilization now that allows us to kind of take certain things for granted, such as when a giant storm comes through, or if a fire rips through a community, or, in this case, a locust swarm — which is a thing that happens at various times around the world. These are all things that can destroy your shelter, your food, and cause all kinds of problems in the short term.
For our people, they've been knocked back over and over again. And here's just one more thing that is almost proof of how horrific it is to try to live out there in the world when everything's falling apart. And so that was one of the things that we thought was interesting from an environmental obstacle standpoint. But it also felt like there's something sort of operatic about Leah's rage, trying to come after them after all this time. And so we thought that it felt like it worked well with her particular story as well.
Okay, I want to talk about this Negan-and-Maggie exchange where she asks him to protect Hershel and Negan says, "He doesn't exactly trust me, you know," to which Maggie replies, "But I am starting to. You saved him at Riverbend. Whatever else happens, and whatever else has happened, I will never forget that." What does that mean for their relationship?
For Negan and Maggie, this is just one step kind of forward, and they tend to go a couple steps forward, a couple steps back. It's definitely a roller coaster ride of emotion with these two. But I think that this is a moment where Maggie sees that Negan has been trying, and he did do right by her child. And that's not lost on her, but it's also notable to see that he has never just straight-up apologized to her. And she has never said, "I forgive you." That's not what it is, but I think that she's a mature leader, and she knows that in the balance of things, it's better that they team up right now than they be at each other's throats.
I think she's also really impressed by Annie. She can tell that Annie is a good person and a good force in his life. And maybe it says something that they have chosen each other. It moves her a little bit. As much as she definitely had an emotional reaction when she found out that Annie's pregnant, she's not going to hate somebody just because of the person that they're with, if she thinks that Annie is somebody that could be one of their friends.
So when Negan hears that she is starting to trust him, does that tell him, "All right, listen, we may not be post-apocalyptic BFFs, but maybe she's not going to try and kill me anymore"? Does that at least give him that sort of relief?
I think it does. And I think also for Negan, he does want to hear, "Hey, we're post-apocalyptic BFFs now!" Negan can have this kind of hard-shell exterior obviously, but Negan wants to be accepted. He's definitely an extroverted villain, and he doesn't like to be kind of off on his own. He's like, "I want to be part of the gang." And so he hears that as like, "All right, cool." It's like, "I'm going to take that and run with it." He might be a little further along than she is.
Let's talk about that newspaper headline: "Pamela Milton Is Lying to You." What are the aftershocks going to be from this special edition?
Without getting into spoilers with it, there's definitely a pretty big impact off of this news. Just even with the way that Pamela [Laila Robins] comes storming in with the arms full of the papers. She's already upset about what's going on out there.
But we thought it'd be interesting to show that Connie, in addition to just being a badass out in the field where she has to be, this is somebody who knows how to fight with words as well. And the pen can be mightier than the sword in the right context. Journalism can change things. It can move people to action that maybe weren't ready for that. And so we'll see how that starts to play out in the episodes to come.
So if Pamela had just used the Founders Day surplus for a scholarship fund, would everything have stayed the same in the Commonwealth? Was that the tipping point?
Maybe, maybe not. That was an important test for Max. And in some ways, I think Max is a little disappointed in her boss, because Pamela is not a mustache-twirling villain in that way, but she makes certain choices where she goes, "Oh, that's not what I think most people would choose, or maybe at least it shouldn't be." So I think that definitely turned things, but I don't know that Pamela ever would've gone the other way. That's the thing that's disappointing to Max.
Let's talk about all the stuff that went on outside the walls. What's Leah's plan here when she knocks out and ties up Maggie? Is she planning to kill her, or is she planning to keep her alive somewhere as she goes and kills everyone else? What happens if the tables don't sort of turn later in that scene?
I think that Leah probably would've dragged back Maggie's loved ones and killed them in front of her. I think she wanted her to be tormented by having to watch the people she loved die.
Because otherwise she could have just killed her. But I think in her headspace, this person was the cause of her torment. So she wants her to die in pain and with suffering. Or she would've killed them all and let her go, or something like that.
I assume no hesitation on Daryl's part in pulling that trigger.
I don't think so. I think he felt that Leah was a person who could kind of go one of a couple ways, and he wasn't sure. But it's worked out okay with Negan, even if it's been a bumpy road. I think that Daryl's thinking a lot about, "Do you have to always kill people, or can you sometimes let them have another turn in the story for the story to change?" But when Maggie's in imminent danger, there's no way he's going to hesitate. That's Maggie, and they have a really important relationship. He's going to do anything to save Maggie.
Speaking of that cabin, does Lance know who shot him in the face? He comes in, he just sees Leah's dead body there. Does he know who shot at him from that cabin?
I think he has a guess, but I don't know if he knows for sure. I don't know how well you can see through that window. I think it probably came pretty quick, but he's like, "It's those f---ing people. It wasn't her."
All right. So we see the flags over Alexandria, Hilltop, Oceanside. Was this inevitable? Even if Hillside had not gotten involved in Riverbend, was this always going to be the end result one way or the other?
That's an interesting question. I think that they would've considered it unseemly to take these places by force. I think that Hornsby always thought, "Well, we are going to slowly convince them to submit to us and be part of it." So maybe it would've been in the end result, but I actually think that Hornsby did not want to take these communities by violent means. I think in his mind he's doing something much more magnanimous, but the history of expansion in the world is a messy one, as we all know. So, as the story often goes, he got a little impatient and was like, "Aw, f--- it. I'm taking them now."
What does the Alexandria occupation mean for the folks who are already integrated into the Commonwealth?
They always thought, "Well, this is temporary, and we're just going to go home at a certain point and then everything's going to go back to the way it was, and we can choose how we're going to run things." And for them well, that option doesn't really exist anymore. So, I think they've got to make some decisions according to what has just played out.
What you can say about our final eight episodes, now that you've set the table for those?
Things are going to continue to get increasingly more intense. There are going to be some really surprising turns for people that they won't see coming. And it's emotional. We really are focusing on a lot of our characters and getting into some of their various stories.
For a lot of us, we were feeling like there's kind of like this legacy to these characters and how far they've come. And if the Commonwealth is a place where you're judged based on who you were a long time ago, does that give you room to prove who you are now? And a lot of our characters are trying to figure out: Who is it that I am now? And what do I do with that? And so that becomes a big part of the story going forward.
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AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.