[SPOILER ALERT! Read on only if you have already watched Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead.]
“Hey, I know it’s been a while. I’m gonna be honest, I forgot about you.”
And with those words from the journal of Beth Greene, episode 410 (titled “Inmates”) began. Hearing Beth’s hopeful journal entries from back when things were going well in the prison juxtaposed against the visuals of Beth and Daryl now running for their lives after the fall of said prison set an ominous tone for this latest installment of The Walking Dead. The episode showed what happened to all the other survivors after the assault, but the first segment focused solely on Beth and Daryl, giving us our most extensive look yet at Hershel’s youngest daughter. We spoke with the woman who plays Beth, Emily Kinney, about both what we just learned and what is still to come (including, perhaps, more singing).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So we saw Beth with this journal earlier in the season, and now we get to hear what she’s been writing in that journal, which gives us a bit more insight into the character.
EMILY KINNEY: It’s nice because the audience hasn’t gotten to know Beth this whole time. She hasn’t been in every scene, she hasn’t been necessarily the focus of the show. And I think that having that moment — seeing that she has been going through all these same things and having thoughts about them and having feelings about what she’s been going through — the audience gets a chance to hear what it is that she has been thinking with those journal entries. So it was very satisfying for me as an actor to fill in some of those gaps. And I’m sure for the audience it’s nice to get to know Beth a little bit better in that moment.
EW: It’s haunting too in a way because she’s like, “Yeah, we just got to the prison and hopefully we’re going to get to stay here forever!”
KINNEY: [Laughs] Yeah, you get to see that she was very hopeful at some point and trying to make the best of this horrible situation and trying to make the best of the prison life. And she’s starting to have dreams for herself and for her future — which, of course, doesn’t really happen
EW: It’s interesting because Daryl is the one here who seems totally pessimistic about the chance of there being any other survivors that made it out of the prison alive while Beth is the one really taking charge and spearheading the search. That’s an intriguing little twist there.
KINNEY: Beth is still holding on to this idea that they could possibly find some of the people from the prison and somehow they have that group again. I think that Beth feels very alone and Daryl isn’t the most open person in the world, so even though she has a partner in this, she still feels extremely alone. The journal too is kind of showing just how much she was holding onto this idea of the prison, and during this episode she is still holding on to this idea that maybe there is a way to get back to having that group, or having some sort of family, having some sort of stability by searching for the kids and searching for other survivors. And it just doesn’t work out.
EW: We hear one line from the journal where she says, “I believe for daddy.” That makes me wonder, what is the impact of what happened to Hershel and how is that affecting Beth? When she is saying stuff like, “We have to get out there and search, we have to be hopeful,” is that her way of honoring her father and carrying on in an almost What Would Hershel Do, WWHD kind of way?
KINNEY: I think she definitely still hasn’t come to terms with that life is over yet — in terms of the people and the family she gained by having that stability of the prison. She’s still sort of hopeful. She still hasn’t come to terms with her father’s death yet. That is something that is going to play out throughout the whole rest of the season. This is just the beginning. She is still tying to grasp something.
EW: Well, it’s a lot of trauma to take in at one time.
KINNEY: Yeah, I don’t think it’s all happening yet. This episode is to see how much hope she had in this other life. And as soon as people do have food and stability and shelter, they start to journal. You don’t need to much to start to dream and think about what your life could be and that sort of thing.
EW: Was it nice to have these scenes — and more to come, I assume — with Norman Reedus? You guys had some moments earlier this season after your on-screen boyfriend, Zach, died, but haven’t worked a whole lot together until now.
KINNEY: It was great. Norman is such a great actor and fun person to work with. He’s so sweet. I feel like now he’s become such a good friend and it’s fun because I think Beth and Daryl are getting to know each other now because they’re kind of stuck together. And, in a way, me and Norman are now stuck together after not necessarily having a tons of scenes together and getting to know each other. So in some ways it definitely paralleled their journey — Beth and Daryl’s journey and Emily and Norman’s journey. So it’s been really fun and satisfying.
EW: Speaking to most of your castmates over the past few weeks, that word you just used — satisfying — is one they have also used talking about these last eight episodes of the season and the fact that we’re breaking out into these much smaller stories. And I agree that we haven’t gotten to see a lot of Beth. We saw some after Zach died, but we haven’t gotten to spend a good amount of time with her in a smaller setting. And that’s the same case with a lot of characters. But now we’re getting rich stories on all of these people and I imagine that is, as you said, satisfying.
KINNEY: Yeah, and the audience wants to know sometimes what’s going on with that character, like what are they thinking about this situation? We as actors, we fill in those gaps as much as we can, but we want to know too, you know? And I definitely think for a lot of people on this show in this second half, we get to do a lot of that digging deeper into the characters. And there’s still a lot of action and you never know what’s around the corner. But there’s also a lot of really great character development and that’s really fun for an actor. So I think we’re all feeling really creatively satisfied working on this show and are really excited.
EW: I know you’re a singer as well, so are we going to get a chance to hear Beth sing again this season?
KINNEY: I definitely think it’s part of how Beth deals with this world. And like I said, in any circumstance we need more than just food and shelter. Human beings need something else, and music and art is bound to come up at some point. It’s her way of dealing, so yeah.
EW: And we’ve seen that creativity now through both singing and writing.
KINNEY: I think that’s definitely a core part of who she is. The audience is getting to slowly see that that’s a part of her makeup. That’s just part of who she is, and the audience will see that more.
To hear our entire interview with Emily Kinney, tune in to EW Morning Live on Tuesday, Feb. 18 on Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105). And for more ‘Walking Dead’ intel, follow Dalton on Twitter: