Maggie’s Return, a Rick Update & More From ‘TWD’ Universe Comic-Con@Home Panels
Not only do we finally know when we’ll be seeing new episodes in The Walking Dead universe (October!), but we also know what to expect when they arrive.
On Friday, July 24, AMC hosted panels, moderated by Talking Dead‘s Chris Hardwick, for Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead, and the new Walking Dead: World Beyond, as part of its presence at Comic-Con@Home.
Read on for all of the must-know scoop you might have missed.
Fear the Walking Dead
The Villainous Virginia’s Success
Virginia is “the [villain] that’s the most unnerving” across both shows, according to Lennie James (who describes Colby Minifie as having an “off-kilter kind of energy,” after the two “worked intensely” together at the end of Season 5). She’s successful in running quite a few groups of people, and while she’s met groups like Fear‘s before, they haven’t met anyone like hers.
“She is a hero to herself and framed herself as a hero to her people,” TWDU chief content officer Scott M. Gimple says. “She ranks as the cheeriest villain on all the shows, but that cheer can turn on a dime. We’re going to see other dimensions to her this season,” including “a vulnerability” through meeting her sister, Dakota (Zoe Colletti).
In Season 6, Virginia is “calling the shots,” executive producer Ian Goldberg previews. “Our characters are not the masters of their own universe anymore,” living in her communities and under her rules. As a result, we’ll see “different shades” as the characters are “tested” in new ways—which will lead to a “darker season.”
“Separated” is the key word when it comes to the relationships on FTWD. James is hoping to explore what finding love with Grace (Karen David) looks like for his character. That’s “the scariest thing Morgan has faced” since the beginning of the apocalypse, he says. Grace has “opened up a part of his heart that was locked down and still belonged to his wife,” and the possibilities “scare the hell out of him.”
Grace is on the same page. It “was a big thing for [her] to admit she has feelings for him,” David adds. “To allow herself to love and be loved or to feel something for someone else, that was such a big step towards her healing.” She’s also dealing with her pregnancy, which raises many questions, including how she feels about it and if she wants to bring a child into this world. That being said, if David could name the baby, she would do so in honor of Morgan, perhaps for his wife or son.
In other relationship news, might Al (Maggie Grace) and Isabelle (Sydney Lemmon) meet again? “There’s more story there,” Gimple confirms. “Individually, with those characters, and potentially together.”
June (Jenna Elfman) and John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) are separated, but “thank God they have the strong foundation they have,” Elfman says. “She trusts that John is taking care of himself,” while she’s focusing on what keeps her “sane”: helping others.
While Goldberg wouldn’t say much about a potential reunion for Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sherry (Christine Evangelista), he did note that both characters have changed. (Dwight, in particular, has come a long way since we met him on The Walking Dead.) “The reunion might not be exactly what they think it is,” he says, but that “doesn’t mean it can’t be a great thing.”
Change Is Coming for Everyone—and Episode Formats
Alicia was trying to let go of her negative emotions at the end of Season 5, according to Alycia Debnam-Carey, so she wants to see more of “a renewed hope and happiness coming into her.” She wants her character to take the qualities that have allowed others to survive, lead, and succeed (“how to apocalypse the best”), including “the better bits of [Alicia’s mother] Madison.”
What would Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) make of Season 6 Morgan? “I’m not sure I can speak for Rick, but I think he’d be happy that his friend is still alive, but I also think that he might be really worried what will be left of his friend in Season 6 and what might remain,” James admits. “I think he might be very scared of the prospect of who his friend might be or where his friend might be.”
New characters will be coming in that “open up new worlds” and lead to “huge developments,” Gimple shared, adding that “there might be time jumps.”
We’ll also see actors working together “in a new, dynamic way” in the “very Die Hard-esque episode” Colman Domingo directed. (He offered his costar James “do this” and “don’t do this” advice when the latter directed.) Plus, there’s an “anthology structure” to the episodes that makes them “16 little movies that all sort of fold into each other,” Gimple says. “Each episode has its own flavor,” EP Andrew Chambliss adds.
The Walking Dead
Lauren Cohan is back full-time for Season 11, but we’ll first see her in the “finale.” (Season 10 has been extended with six more episodes.) “Maggie feels like doing Comic-Con in your slippers is a great way to move forward,” Cohan jokes. “It’s not just a visit. It’s moving from pen pals to real life friends. Her and Carol have been in communication.”
When Maggie returns, it’ll be to a new Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), as her husband Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) murderer is no longer locked up.
“It’s not going to be an easy road for either of them,” showrunner Angela Kang teases. “Negan’s been on this whole other journey while she’s been gone, but Maggie’s coming in and she hasn’t seen any of that. … These two have to figure out how to operate the same space.” “I have saved a lot of her friends,” Morgan notes, so he hopes some people stick up for him.
Negan has evolved and has a “soft spot for the younger generation,” his portrayer notes, and since he’s “very honest” with his kids, he wouldn’t hide from Maggie and Glenn’s son Hershel who he is. “That may be a way that Maggie sees a different side of Negan as well. I think initially she’ll just want to kill him,” he suggests, but adds that he is still “Negan,” even through his redemption arc, leading to him “walking a fine line, especially with Maggie.” (He also thinks life would be “boring” if Negan had been killed, not imprisoned, and that getting his barbed-wire bat Lucille back “could be a step back” for the character.)
The Season 10 “Finale”
The extended look at “A Certain Doom” sees Beta (Ryan Hurst) surrounded by walkers and Whisperers, who have taken on the role of the “screaming fan base” from his previous life as a country music star. But that horde poses quite the problem for our survivors, who may be used to walking among the dead now and have their tricks, but there are also humans within this one.
The opening minutes also offered a look at Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Alden (Callan McAuliffe) encountering a masked stranger, the introduction of whom felt “as huge” as Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) in Season 3 to Marquand. He teases an “exciting” and “scary” reveal.
Kang says she’s excited for fans to see “what happens with Beta, Carol and her revenge arc, Daryl and his leadership role,” adding that Seth Gilliam (Gabriel) has “amazing scenes.”
“The Commonwealth group, we will get to what I think’s a pretty cool point for them on their journey,” she continues. “Everybody’s at play. We see the return of Maggie. Negan has a key role to play. Every person in the cast is an important part of the puzzle. I’m excited for everybody to see our whole group doing their thing, working together to face what’s in front of them.”
The last five minutes “take it to a whole other place,” executive producer (and the episode’s director) Greg Nicotero teases.
Daryl has been dealing with a lot this season, from trust issues with Carol (Melissa McBride) to Michonne leaving and him promising to take care of the kids to keeping the group together, and it was “mentally…exhausting,” according to Norman Reedus.
As we reach the end of the season, Carol is “in the same place but different, same water, different boat,” from the beginning, McBride says. “But she’s trying to make some amends.” As for Carol and Daryl’s relationship (“one of the coolest,” Kang says), it’s complicated because “they can be real with each other in ways not everyone can,” so the “hurts run deeper,” the showrunner explains.
Ezekiel’s cancer may put a clock on him, but it also gives him “hope,” Khary Payton says. He wants to leave some things behind (like his failed relationships, losses, and destroyed community) for a fresh start.
Relationships to Come?
Maybe there shouldn’t be a new guardian for Rick and Michonne’s kids, Judith (Cailey Fleming) and RJ. “If you look at Judith’s history of parents and guardians, they’re the ones in danger,” Gimple points out. Judith is taking care of herself.
The same can be said for a new love interest for Aaron. He “came very close with Jesus,” Marquand says, but love’s not a priority with all the threats around them. “I don’t know if he should have a love interest. Everyone who gets close to him dies,” he adds, suggesting his character should “maybe just be fond of someone.”
There may be a new relationship coming for Josh McDermitt’s Eugene. As you’ll recall, he connected with Stephanie over the radio. They have “similar interests” and are “starting on a more solid foundation there,” McDermitt says, hoping that his character will grow with that relationship (if it does become more).
New cast member Paola Lazaro is hoping to see her character, Princess, with Negan—both characters are “wild,” “extroverted,” and “wordy”—and with her favorite, Carol.
Looking Ahead (and Back?) to Characters
With production changes needing to be made to make sure everyone is comfortable and safe while filming, Kang says they’re “diving into great character work.”
And speaking of characters, Gimple would love to craft a spinoff about Glenn pre-apocalypse because he misses working with Yeun and “it would be funny.” But he did tease that they’re “working on things where we are looking at past characters,” including a peek at “early in the apocalypse.”
The Walking Dead: World Beyond
And Its Place in the Universe
The newest series in the universe picks up with the dead still around 10 years later. While the original brought Rick out of his coma soon after the world had changed, the two sisters at the heart of World Beyond “wake up from maybe the way they were looking at life,” Gimple says. “They go out in the world and they discover a new world. They start in a place of safety, not a place of ignorance” and leave it “to do something heroic.”
“Bad things happen,” but the basis of the TWD universe is “love exists,” he adds.
Each Walking Dead series has a different name for the dead—walkers and infected on the first two—and here, they’re “empties,” which comes from the comics. (Gimple believes it was Jesus’ word.) And there’s a parallel to be found in that Iris dreams that she’s dead in the first episode because she feels empty inside.
What about Rick?!
The helicopter group that flew Rick away on The Walking Dead is “a huge part” of the new series, according to Gimple, but don’t expect Julia Ormond (Elizabeth) to spill any details about his fate, even if she knows anything. “If Elizabeth knows where Rick is, I’m not sure that she would tell you,” she says. “You’ll just have to watch and find out.”
We will find out “a great deal about them,” Gimple says. “They are a very mysterious force, and their security and the community they keep secure are incredibly secretive, but regardless we go into that community a little bit. We don’t get a deep look at it, but we get some pretty tantalizing hints to it.”
“They’re a constant presence in this story,” he continues. “It explains a lot of what we’ve seen on the other shows and it invites new questions.”
The Walking Dead, Season 10 Finale, Sunday, October 4, 9/8c, AMC
The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Series Premiere, Sunday, October 4, 10/9c, AMC
Fear the Walking Dead, Season 6 Premiere, Sunday, October 11, 9/8c, AMC