The Walking Dead’s Survivors Are ‘Going to Have to Decide Who They Are’ as Season 5 Returns

The Walking Dead
Gene Page/AMC
The Walking Dead

The struggle for survival doesn’t get any easier when The Walking Dead returns for the final eight episodes of Season 5. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his band of warriors are coming to terms with the devastating loss of Beth (Emily Kinney) in last fall’s finale and the realization that the promise of a cure in Washington, D.C., was only a fabrication perpetuated by Eugene (Josh McDermitt). “They are lost, emotionally and physically,” says showrunner Scott Gimple. “But this half season is very much about the group’s dynamic together, and they will really be tested. Everybody has been ground down, so they’re going to have to decide who they are exactly.”

The effects of Beth’s death resonate with everyone, but it is particularly difficult for Daryl (Norman Reedus), who had established a powerful emotional bond with her. “The strange thing is, the last person to bring him out of this kind of grief was Beth herself,” Gimple says. “So will he take lessons from that, or will it make it that much harder?”

Gimple does point out that these instances of sorrow and misery will be countered by unexpected periods of levity, specifically involving Carol (Melissa McBride). “Some moments are fun and even a little funny,” Gimple says. “I’m not saying that Carol is turning into Zooey Deschanel from New Girl, but there are moments of lightness that are still mixed in with some badassery.”

The primary goal for the survivors, however, is to establish a new direction and purpose, which Gimple promises they will figure out “rather quickly” (and the story will have significant ties to an arc established in the comic book source material). The midseason premiere will reintroduce fans to this zombie-infested world in a unique way. “After reading the script, [star] Andy Lincoln called me up and sang the David Bowie song ‘Changes,'” Gimple says with a laugh. “Some big things happen. We’re coming out of the gates offering up a very new Walking Dead.”

The Walking Dead, Midseason premiere, Sunday, Feb. 8, 9/8c, AMC