‘The Walking Dead’ Boss Angela Kang Breaks Down 11B’s Midseason Finale

    [Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 16, “Acts of God.”]

    The Walking Dead has been known to have some pretty cliffhanger-fueled midseason finales (Sophia, anyone?) so we’re pretty excited to see how the events of 11B’s finale turn out when the AMC zombie drama returns for its final eight episodes.

    In “Acts of God,” locusts descend upon our survivors providing cover for an intense hunt between Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and former Reaper Leah (Lynn Collins), the latter of whom is later shot and killed. Meanwhile, another group of our favorite apocalypse survivors assembles to reveal the truth about the “idyllic” society from the inside. We also see Daryl (Norman Reedus), Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) really get under the skin of the Commonwealth’s slimiest government official, Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton), whose devilish coin flip closes out the episode. We can only imagine what torment he has planned for our survivors, especially now that his powerful reach has claimed Hillside, Oceanside, and Alexandria as Commonwealth territories.

    It’s a midseason finale where a bunch of tiny triggers are pulled at once, leading to what we can only imagine will be an explosive return. Showrunner Angela Kang reveals all about the series’ last midseason ender.

    By the end of this episode, all of the series’ major characters find themselves — more or less — physically unscathed. Did you have any hesitations about killing off any of the show’s longer-running characters before we get to that final third? And will we see more death moving forward?

    Angela Kang: I think without getting into anything that’s spoiler-territory, the characters that have survived this long, have been through a lot. Our heroes have just survived some impossible odds, and come out on the other side, so I think for us telling the story, there are times when it makes sense to kill off a major character, and then there are times when we’re trying to tell a different kind of story. In this case, we were really trying to deal with this particular person that has been plaguing them for a while and what you do there, so that really became the central focus.

    The locusts — was that something you’d wanted to do for a while? How did that concept come up?

    It was something that came out of the writers’ room, writer Nicole Mirante-Matthews [who wrote “Acts of God”] pitched it, but it fits with something we were doing thematically throughout the season. Every time [these characters] think they’ve figured something out, there are these things that are bigger than them, which humanity has faced for all of time — extreme weather, locusts — these things that just keep pushing them back on their heels over and over again. And it’s just a reminder that we’re so fortunate in modern times that we have ways to deal with these things. It was one of those things that we really tried to focus on in the last two years. So, I think it was a really cool pitch from a writer who had that in mind while she was shaping the story.

    Something else that felt almost biblical was Maggie and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) making a major stride in this episode where she admits that she’s “starting to” trust him. Are we edging closer to the newly-announced spinoff Isle of the Dead territory? Where do they go from here?

    I think we’re going to see with these two that they have a very complex relationship and interactions with each other. Negan has made some strides with her, but that doesn’t mean that all is forgotten. They’re both very pragmatic leaders as well, and she knows that he has done right by her child, at least in the short term, so that’s got to count for something. I never want it to feel like Maggie’s forgotten what has been done to her and her family, but there’s an arc within the show, and Isle of the Dead will pick up where it picks up and run with that ball.

    Daryl, Aaron, Gabriel, Maggie — they’re all essentially waging a tactical war with Hornsby. What do they have to fight back with? It feels like they’re really unmatched.

    I think for our people what they really have that has helped them is, that they are smart, they are scrappy and they are determined to help each other no matter what. You can’t understate the importance of the bonds of family that transcend blood bonds, and I think that is what makes this group special and has kept them together through so many different challenges. They just want to survive more. They are definitely outmatched in terms of equipment — they don’t have the armor or the vehicles, but they’ve got each other and that’s going to count for a lot.

    Daryl shooting Leah in their cabin must’ve been devastating for him. Will we see him process those emotions and feelings in 11C?

    Daryl definitely has thoughts and feelings about this. This is somebody that he once cared about and who he thought might have a chance to come back from the kinds of choices she was making when she was with the Reapers, but I think at the same time, Daryl knew this was a pretty toxic situation that he was in, and he’s focused on his family and so he deals with things in a very Daryl-esque way. He’s a man of few words for the most part, but everything is always affecting him, it always sits and informs decisions that he makes as he goes along on his journey.

    The Walking Dead, Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon

    Jace Downs/AMC

    Now, by the end of this episode, Hornsby is furious. He’s been shot and he’s leaning into this vibe that almost feels like Two-Face from Batman, especially with the coinflip. Was that an inspiration or something that you were thinking about?

    You know what’s funny is that I can totally see that, but it was not our direct inspiration. The coin stuff came about because in our backstory for Hornsby we were like, ‘What does this guy like? He’s a gambler. He likes taking risks and big risks sometimes.’ So, we didn’t play a lot of that directly in the show, at one point, we thought to have a story about that, but you know one of our writers decided, ‘how do I put that vibe into the story without it being directly seeing him gambling?’ So, we invented this coin that he had. So that’s how that all came about – a totally separate set of conversations about the fact that this guy likes to roll the dice, you know? And then the gunshot was, we liked the idea of him having a close call. But yeah, add it together and it’s a little Two-Face. We actually tried purposely not to make it too much in that direction, but we came on those two things through separate paths.

    Max (Margot Bingham) is now officially using her connection to Commonwealth leader Pamela Milton (Laila Robins) from the inside. How dangerous is this going to be for her moving forward?

    It’s really dangerous for Max. I think as is the case when anybody decides to take on a whistleblower role, or a spy role, there’s just inherent danger both for her, but also for the people she cares about. Her brother is in that government, Eugene [Josh McDermitt] is somebody she cares about, and our people are all involved, so it’s a different kind of danger than the zombie danger, but we know that humans in this world are more dangerous than the monsters outside our gates. She’s definitely stepping into some very tricky, dangerous situations.

    And the paper with that massive “Pamela Milton is Lying to You” on the front page… that is a very big, public statement that Connie (Lauren Ridloff) is making. How much should we worry about Connie? And how easily do you think that the general populous of the Commonwealth will start to mistrust the place that they’re in?

    This is definitely something that’s going to have a big impact on the story. One of the things that we were thinking about, is when you’re in something that resembles our current civilization, there are times when the pen truly is mightier than the sword. Connie doesn’t always have to be out there fighting with a weapon. She can use her words to move the needle. And so that was one of the stories that we really wanted to tell — the things that people say, the truths they uncover, the reporting that they do, really can make a difference. Connie in that way is a superhero when she’s at the Commonwealth, but it does put her in danger!

    The Walking Dead, Ross Marquand as Aaron

    Jace Downs/AMC

    How does it feel to have only eight episodes of The Walking Dead left after this?

    It feels surreal. I mean, we obviously wrapped production just a few days ago, but for me, I still have like six months of intensive post- work ahead, so it doesn’t feel like it’s over. It’s sad, but it also feels like people were in a good place as we were [concluding] on the production part of it. I know there are a lot of fans that are already grieving the end of the show. I think there are a lot of mixed feelings for all of us working on the show. This has been — I’ve spent like a quarter of my life working on this show, so it’s a big deal.

    The Walking Dead, Season 11C, TBA, AMC

    Leave a reply

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here