[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead: World Beyond Season 2, Episode 1, “Konsekans.”]
Holy moly, Iris Bennett (Aliyah Royale)!
As of the first installment of World Beyond’s final season, one-half of the Bennett siblings has officially and unequivocally chosen violence. In the final minutes of the season premiere, the formerly warm-hearted, nurturing Iris not only stabbed a Civic Republic Military soldier to death after coming across him in the woods but also delivered a cool, calculating catchphrase to his corpse: “That’s what you get.” (Yep, we picked up on that sly Season 1 reference).
We chatted with Royale about her character’s turn to the dark side, what’s up with that walker-CRM-helmet dream and what fans can expect from the rest of Season 2.
First, I want to talk to you about the ending of Episode 1. That was…
Did you always think Iris had that in her? Or were you surprised, when you read the script?
I always thought she had that in her. Season 1 was so interesting because although Iris was a leader, she was a caretaker. Season 2 Iris, whew! She is so much fun. It’s so fun to play a character who used to have this sweetness to her, and now she is more about her business. She is really living for herself now, and Season 2 is really all about Iris doing whatever the hell she wants. I am eternally thankful for the opportunity to do that because I think she definitely wanted to let go and be a risk-taker in Season 1. She is finally able to do that.
What drives her to kill that soldier? It is such a sharp turn, as you said, from the person she was in Season 1.
Season 1 — well, first of all, she lost her therapist! [Laughs]
She’s lost her mother. Her father isn’t around and she goes on this journey to find her father, but she hasn’t found him, so she hasn’t met her goal. Not only that, but she has also lost her sister and a couple of friends and love interests along the way. So, I think Season 1 had a lot of loss for Iris, and I think that moment at the end of 201 is very much like, “I’m getting a little bit back.” At that moment, there is a little bit of satisfaction. She got a little bit back.
She has an interesting line right after she kills him — she says, “That’s what you get.” What does she mean by that? I know it’s a nod to the first time she kills a walker, but what does it mean in this context?
Right, that was a nod to Season 1 Iris and her first interaction with a walker, which doesn’t go as planned — she ends up projectile vomiting on that walker and she says, “That’s what you get.” Like that was the plan the whole time. [Now] things have changed, the tables have turned. It was fun taking it from this funny line to, “You 100% deserve everything that is coming to you.”
Almost like a revenge mantra? “That’s what you get, CRM!”
Absolutely. It’s a promise. “You deserve this for everything you’ve taken from me in terms of my family, and the people you’ve harmed. Get ready.”
Talk about character growth, though. She goes from projectile vomiting on a walker to killing a human being and being — not emotionless, but pretty okay with it.
The moment she’s in those woods and she comes across the CRM soldier, she knows it’s either her or him. She almost sought it out. Felix [Nico Totorella] told her to take her butt to bed, and she said, “Yeah, I will.” Then she chose to explore. So, I think a little of her just wanted to know how close this perimeter community was to the people who have her father and her sister, but she went out looking for trouble and she got it. I think she’s quite satisfied with the way she handled the situation.
That was something else I was going to ask you about — whether she went out there looking for a fight, with walkers or with humans.
Why else do you leave your house at that time of night, you know? She keeps having this flashback of this nightmare with tearing off the walker’s face and it really has that black face shield. There’s a glimpse of that right before she goes out. I think she was definitely looking for answers, and she got them, but you have to be careful what you ask for. Usually, you can’t really handle it, and you shouldn’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to. But Iris could totally handle it.
You mentioned this nightmare, this dream that she has of the walker with the CRM helmet underneath. What is the meaning of that? I have a theory, but I want to know what you say.
Oh no, I want to know your theory! Can I hear your theory first?
Okay — my theory is that CRM is the true enemy. At first, they thought it was the dead, but in ripping off the walker’s face, she finds that CRM is her enemy. Not the dead.
Ugh, I love that! I love that so much, and I’m going to use that for future interviews. [Laughs] You think you’re fighting against a couple of bad seeds [in CRM], and Iris thinks, “I know Elizabeth [Julia Ormond] has my father, and now this entity wants my sister, too.” You think you’re going up against a couple of individuals that need to be taken out, but then you realize that you’re going up against a whole organization that is dedicated to this “for the greater good” mentality that ends in a lot of casualties and frayed edges. After learning about what happened at the Campus Colony and everyone that was lost, she’s like, “You want to tell me this was empties? No!” The real enemy is always going to be the living. The dead are frightening, but they’re not the scariest part of this universe.
When we last talked, you’d said that if there was ever a crossover with the main show, you’d want Iris to meet Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). If there was ever a crossover with your fellow spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, who would you want Iris to meet there?
That’s tough! Someone who could be a good female role model for Iris — man, that’s tough. I want everyone! I recently did a panel with the women in the Walking Dead Universe, and they’re all fabulous. I’m going to go with Jenna Elfman’s character [June Dorie]. As a maternal figure that I feel like Iris doesn’t have, for sure.
It’s interesting that you mention her, because she had a pretty shocking moment of violence last season, too.
And I love that! As women, I don’t think we live in a place of always doing the sweet, docile thing. I think a lot of people expect us to live or operate in [that place]. But sometimes, we have these moments when we need to act out. It’s necessary. And that’s why I respect June.
Tease what’s coming up for Iris and her friends this season.
It’s all about growth. No one comes out of Season 2 the way they were in Season 1, or even how they started in Season 2. There’s a lot more loss, which is, in Walking Dead fashion, completely necessary. But there are a few surprising elements. There’s a lot of love for multiple characters, and I love that we can have love in the apocalypse.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC