[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s midseason finale of The Walking Dead, “Start to Finish.”]
If you thought the midseason finale of The Walking Dead was brutal, star Andrew Lincoln has a message for you: That’s nothing compared to what is coming up next. Fasten your proverbial seatbelts, people, because the road out of Alexandria is about to become a lot bumpier (no doubt thanks to that Sam pipsqueak).
We caught up with Rick Grimes himself to get his take on Sunday’s midseason finale, and he was kind enough to offer plenty of insight into a few key scenes from the season 6 halfway point. But he also couldn’t help but gush about what is coming next, although it sounds like fans should brace themselves for more losses to come as the show wades into “deeper, darker waters.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, here we are at the halfway point with eight episodes down and eight left to go in season 6.
ANDREW LINCOLN: The back half is by far the most frantic we’ve ever done, and I think it’s one of the most rewarding — the acting, and everybody, and the story, and just where we go is phenomenal. So it’s sort of a double-edged sword — you’re kind of exhausted and beaten and made it to the finishing line but at the same time you’re like “What next?” It’s exciting. It’s very exciting.
Every once in a while you have an episode that is just action overload. The season 3 premiere at the prison was like that, as was the season 5 escape from Terminus. This was sort of like that as well with the zombies busting through the gate right at the start. What are filming episodes such as this like when you have that non-stop tension and energy?
When we shot it, I thought [director] Mike Satrazemis did a phenomenal job. It was kind of like an impossible episode — we read it and we just thought, “How on earth?” Particularly that first act, where the wall comes down and everybody is spread in different areas and swarmed. Just the logistics of trying to shoot that sequence alone. And also, we spoke about it as well, everyone in Jessie’s house — that single story alone could’ve filled up a whole hour of the show, so I thought Mike did an incredible juggling job of trying to squeeze in the logistics of shooting it.
If you thought that was intense… episode 9 — and I’ve been saying it since we shot it — episode 9 is… well, if you thought that was intense, just wait. I think it’s on par with any of those, and it may be the most ambitious, and the most epic and just insane, emotional, action-overload we’ve ever attempted. When we shot it, it was pretty much all night shoots, and everybody went mad in that episode, and I can’t wait to see the results, because it was bananas. We were all covered in blood and screaming, and it was like nothing I’d ever witnessed before. So you thought 8 was intense? Wait for 9.
What are you saying, sir? I just assumed you guys were going to calmly stroll right through the walkers in your zombie guts ponchos and everything would be just fine and you all would go live happily ever after. Are you saying that’s not going to happen?
[Laughs] It’s all left so well, isn’t it? And merry Christmas, everybody! We’ll see you in three months! it’s going to be fine! Rest assured, it’s not looking good for the Alexandrian crew. Yes, there will be blood.
That was a pretty interesting place to end the episode right there, with Sam calling to his mom as you guys start to move to freedom and throwing the whole thing into doubt.
You know the show as well as I do — that’s pretty much the way we roll. There’s a glimmer of hope, and then it’s smashed to smithereens. Where we’re headed is somewhere very new and different and exciting, but before we get there, there’s going to be a little bit of spillage. It’s going to be tough. It’s just the way it’s got to be. I do have to say that my favorite [before the opening credits] teaser in a long, long time was in episode 8: the ants teaser. I remember reading that, I didn’t see it, but I always loved it. I just thought it was such a crazy, strange, odd, and weird teaser.
I saw the camera starting to pan from the quiet of Sam’s room towards the window and I thought we were going to see the walkers approaching, but instead it was those damn ants.
Oh, I know, it’s so strange! I loved it. I remember reading it and just going “I love this.” I just think it’s really perfect. It’s terrifying and engulfing, just that powerlessness.
Let’s talk about your last scene with Tovah Feldshuh, who plays Deanna. She gives you this big speech about how “they’re all your people.” I know how much you two respect each other as actors and people. What was filming that like?
It was very moving. It always is when you know someone is finishing their time on the show. And so it’s charged, it’s always charged with emotion. Tovah is an incredibly unique, brilliant, fiercely intelligent, vastly experienced actress, and she brought this incredible energy and big humor — some of the rudest jokes I’ve ever heard came out of her mouth — and I loved working with her. I just thought she was a brilliant leader in her own right.
And it’s great that she has a hero’s death, that’s what I loved about it. It was befitting of the character, and also Tovah, her spirit. But yeah, doing those scenes was incredibly moving, and in fact in one take, I was too emotional, and I said to Mike, “Please don’t use the one where I’ve got tears rolling down,” because it just doesn’t fit. Because it’s moving when it’s the last time you get to do a scene with a character and with a friend. She’s brilliant — she’s a brilliant actress and she’s a bad-ass. The thing that I love about her is she has a young spirit; she’s always searching, which is something that I really aspire to as well.
And I said it to her when we had her death dinner, I said it’s one of the most youthful, exciting things when you see someone who’s traveling, very intelligent, very bright, and lived so full a life, and yet she’s still not certain, she’s still questioning. That’s so brilliant to be around, very humbling to be around. She dug the show, and she got her hands dirty, she got bumped and scraped and hurt and put her body on the line, and it was such an impressive, brilliant experience to work with her and very, very sad to see her go. Her line “Well, s—” was one of my favorite lines, along with Carl’s, which I think is the best line of the first 8. What’s the line? Like “But you gotta understand, your dad was an asshole.” I read it and I just came up to Riggs and I said “Sir, I give you this line.”