AMC’s The Walking Dead resumes Season 2 this Sunday at 9/8c, with the big question being: What will be the fallout of the massacre of walkers – young Sophia and some of Hershel’s kin and friends included – that led into the winter break? TVLine invited executive producer Gale Anne Hurd to preview the “barnageddon” aftermath, address one knock against the sophomore run’s start and weigh in on a Governor casting rumor. (Reminder: AMC is marathoning Season 1 tonight at 8/7c, and Season 2’s first seven episodes on Sunday starting at 1:30 pm.)
TVLINE | For starters, I wanted to give you a chance to address one criticism of the first half of the season, which was that some felt it was a bit static, a little talky. What do you want to say to that crowd, and what do you want to promise for the next run?
Well, I think if you read Robert Kirkman’s comic book, one of the great things about it is how well-defined the characters are, and how many panels are devoted to interaction among the characters. So I think it’s in the tradition of our underlying source material that we have spent so much time getting to know the characters, which was something we were unable to do the first season with only six episodes.
TVLINE | So there in the writers’ room, is there any kind of unwritten quota for walker interactions?
No. There’s no quota.
TVLINE | One thing I realized watching the first episode back is that the human interactions with strangers can be just as fraught with tension. When Michael Raymond James (Terriers) shows up as a survivor from Philly, and starts playing “20 questions” with Rick, you don’t know what’s going to happen.
Right. Another of the themes of the comic book is that you can predict what a zombie’s going to do, you know what they’re after. They’re not that complex, but people are. And that’s why, I think, the storytelling can be really rich with the love triangle between Rick and Shane and Lori, as well as the outsiders that they encounter. Are they to be trusted or could they be even more dangerous than the zombies?
TVLINE | If the first half of the season was about the gang gaining their bearings, getting an overview of how others out there are surviving, what would you say the theme for the second half of the season is?
It’s much more “pedal to the metal.” Everything’s coming to a head with the infighting within the group, the competition for the leadership role, and how everyone is going to recover from what we like to call “barnaggedon.”
TVLINE | “Barnageddon” – I like that. When you talk about people fighting for the leadership role, who do you consider to be in that mix besides Rick and Shane?
Well, Dale still has his own point of view, as does Hershel. They may be seeking different types of leadership roles, but Hershel and Dale have a very humanistic perspective. And we see that Hershel’s perspective has been challenged by the revelation that the zombies in the barn are not going to return to be productive members of human society.
TVLINE | What kind of place is Carol going to be in, with Sophia truly gone? I mean, what’s keeping this lady from just cutting her losses and “checking out”?
I think that Carol is actually very strong. She survived an abusive husband, and now she is in the position of deciding whether she has the strength within to survive the loss of her daughter, who was an innocent. Carol will have others in the community of survivors to lean upon, and then she’ll have to redefine herself no longer as Sophia’s mother.
TVLINE | Outside of Carol, who is most bitter about the whole Sophia thing? Could it be Daryl?
Obviously Daryl. He had a real connection to being a child from a dysfunctional family, how lonely that can be, how difficult. And he put a lot of himself into finding Sophia. He’s not someone who has been an easy member of the group. He’s an essential member, but he has difficulty relating to other people. He felt that he’d come so close when he found Sophia’s doll that it had justified everything that he went through — being thrown off the horse and getting an arrow through the side.
TVLINE | You must have to walk a fine line with him — between anti-hero and anti-superhero.
Yeah, but you know what? The great thing is that with Melissa McBride playing Carol and Norman Reedus playing Daryl, there are so many layers to their performance. They never play just the one note.
TVLINE | With Rick and Andrea, there was talk about forming an alliance, maybe splitting off from everyone. Is that germ of an idea still out there, or have they put a pin in it?
I think as the tensions continue to escalate, there’s either Team Rick or Team Shane, in essence, and we’ve seen initially Andrea come out as Team Shane. But we’ll see if there’s anything that Dale of any of the others can say that might change her mind.
TVLINE | Speaking of Dale, I feel like he’s gotten to be a bit sad of an individual.
To me, it’s less sadness than grievous concern about the potential loss of humanity that he’s seen. Rick has always has a moral compass that aligned with Dale’s — and Dale fears that he might be losing that.
TVLINE | Yeah, Rick’s kind of preoccupied now with dealing with the moment, while Dale has still got his eye on the bigger picture.
Exactly. What is the saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”? I think he’s looking at it and saying, “We may be on this path to hell, and we have good intentions along the way, but you still have to realize that you’re going to hell with each one of those decisions you make.”
TVLINE | Turning to less-thinky matters: Any new walker tricks you’re going to be showing us? Any big “wow” moments on par with the well guy who split in half?
Of course! Are you kidding? We haven’t lost our ingenuity. And Greg Nicotero and KNB EFX team have a lot more up their sleeve. There’s something in most every episode that I think you’ll enjoy.
TVLINE | There’s talk that when it comes time to introducing the Governor character from the comic books, the casting will be either Tom Savini (Machete) and John Hawkes (Deadwood). Are they necessarily on your short list?
I would not go with that rumor.
TVLINE | And as far as what Jenner whispered to Rick at the CDC, I was saying to a co-worker we can rule out that it was about Lori was pregnant, because Rick would have been like, “I know” when she told him. When are you planning that reveal?
You know what? I don’t think your wait is too long.