'The Walking Dead' Midseason Finale: Kevin Carroll on His New Character Virgil & His Role in Michonne's Journey
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 8, "The World Before."]
Sunday's Season 10 midseason finale of The Walking Dead moved the overall story of the AMC zombie drama forward — by quite a lot, actually.
For starters, the survivors are now two doctors short after newcomer Dante (Juan Javier Cardenas) wound up being a Whisperer spy — killing Avi Nash's Siddiq when he discovered the truth in last week's hour. This week, Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) violently murdered Dante to keep the panic amongst the other survivors, who didn't know there was a Whisperer amongst them, from rising. Carol (Melissa McBride), Daryl (Norman Reedus), and others have finally located Whisperer leader Alpha's (Samantha Morton) horde of walkers — just in time for them to get totally trapped in an underground tavern with the ghoulish creatures.
And then there's the newest addition to this world: Kevin Carroll's (The Leftovers, Snowfall) Virgil, who winds up getting captured by Oceanside after attempting to steal supplies and a boat to return home. Virgil reveals to Michonne (Danai Gurira) that he's from Tangier Sound, a Navy base on Bloodsworth Island, and if she helps him get back to his family, he'll loan her enough weaponry to take care of Alpha forever. And now we finally know why Michonne was mysteriously leaving on that boat in the trailer.
Also, cocreator Dave Andron reveals what sets the FX drama apart from others.
Here's what Carroll told TV Insider about Virgil and Michonne's future, why "my mercy prevails over my wrath" is important, and more.
First, tell me about the casting situation. When did you find out that you would be playing Virgil?
Kevin Carroll: Initially, when the idea came up for this audition, I thought it would be amazing just because I have a few friends on the show, and intermittently, I would stop and watch what they were up to. I just thought the actors were incredible and doing incredible work. So, the audition came my way and I thought "OK, great. Let's give it a shot," but I was still working on Snowfall. So, I went in, I went to Goodwill [first] and got all these clothes. I got some blood. I did about a five-page scene. I put about two or three days' worth of time into working on this audition. I went in and did it.
And then, it ended up, that it overlapped with the last day of shooting for Snowfall. Then, two days passed and we talked about it and tried to work out the scheduling issue with Snowfall, but some things got upended there because of John Singleton's passing, so it was all just kind of up in the air. And then, I think two days before I had to be in Atlanta, it worked out. And as our world goes, because it was two days before, there was a lot of getting ready to go, hurry up and pack. It was a very active 48 hours.
Nash also talks portraying PTSD, the connection between Siddiq and spiders, and whether Alexandria has more doctors.
How would you describe Virgil?
I think he's an intellectual man — a man who loves his family. He made a huge mistake, and now he has to make it right for himself and for his family.
We know from last week that the other new major character this season, Dante, turned out to be wildly untrustworthy. Do you think that viewers should trust Virgil from the get-go?
This is a world where all facets of humanity are up for grabs, depending on the situation, because of the need to survive. It makes everything we do as human beings — they become valuable depending on how it serves survival in this period. But in terms of being trustworthy, I think that's a part of the fun of the journey to figure out for our fans, but they have to also understand, as, within the world in which we've developed, every facet of humanity is up for grabs because of everybody's need to survive. So, I'm going to leave it at that, and tell them to have a great time figuring it out.
Do we get any idea as to why he was even off the naval base in the first place?
Yes. I'm not sure you'll be able to come to a conclusion, but with the storytelling on this show, you will have enough to chew on, at least to start to wonder about it. I don't think it's going to be easy answers for any of it, but you'll be able to have someplace to start to think about it.
How are we going to see his relationship with Michonne develop? They're now together in this boat, on this journey. She was the only one allowed to go, so she's kind of been thrown out of her comfort zone — not that anyone is worried about Michonne out there, but given that, how are we going to see the relationship between these two develop when we pick back up?
I think, because of the situation, they're thrust into a circumstance where they need each other. They're brought together through a sense of need, and we will watch how the synergy of need works into both of their journeys for survival. Michonne is such a strong presence in the show. We will see how their relationship unfolds, and Virgil's background with the Navy base — that serves as context — but the real meat on the bones for viewers will be in the connection with Michonne and his attempt to survive this world. The other stuff is the garnish on the plate of context.
Showrunner Angela Kang is hinting at an earlier return for the star.
There's an Islamic phrase that keeps getting repeated on the show, "My mercy prevails over my wrath," which Michonne immediately reacts to, and responds that she has a friend who used to say it. Siddiq said it first in the Season 8 premiere, and we've seen Rick (Andrew Lincoln) say it as well. How do you translate that moment and that line specifically?
As a character, I don't know that Virgil would have enough information about her to fully understand the impact of that statement, but I think that is one of the great lines that came from our writers that speaks to all of who we are. As a people and as humanity, I think that's one of the great lines – and it's one of the things that, out of the specific situation, it becomes a universal notion to consider. No matter who you are, where you are — it's always applicable at some point in all of our journeys. That line is just a great line, period.
There were some theories that Virgil is partially inspired by a comic character named Pete. Can you confirm or deny anything about that?
You know, I would not be able to confirm or deny that. This is such a rich world of characters, and for the people who have been on the journey from the beginning and followed the comic books, I want them to be able to appreciate who Virgil is, how he came about, and whether he's a part of the original comic book series or not. That's for people in the know, I think.
Forget the 'Caryl' vs. 'Donnie' debate for a moment. Let's talk about another 'TWD' controversy: Negan's redemption arc.
Do you have anything you can say to fans who maybe think Virgil is related to the Commonwealth or the new Walking Dead spinoff that's coming in the Spring? There are so many theories circulating his character already.
I want to tell them that, in this world of The Walking Dead, anything is possible. At this point, I'm just excited for Virgil to get on the map, and start to mix it up in this world. I am anxiously hoping that the fans can appreciate what this journey is about to be. For people who love Michonne, this will be a rewarding piece of the journey for her. I think they're going to have a good time with the twists and turns of this story.
The Walking Dead, Season 10B, February 2020, AMC