Glen Mazzara Answers Burning Questions From The Walking Dead’s Midseason Premiere

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) - The Walking Dead - Season 3, Episode 9
Photo: Tina Rowden/AMC

If you watched the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead – and please stop reading if you have not – surely you must have concerns about Daryl, who chose Merle over Carol; Andrea, who appears to be standing my her man; and Rick, who has officially checked into crazy town. Series boss Glen Mazzara was kind enough to explain what the hell is going on in everyone’s heads. (And sure, I might have overthought that moment Beth welcomed Rick back with a kiss. Just looking out for Carl!)

With Rick going crazy, can you talk about (what appears to be) other leaders emerging? 
Hershel will see Rick hallucinating as a threat to the group’s survival and that pushes him into a leadership position, for sure. Glenn is now bent on getting revenge on The Governor, and he’s torn between loyalty for Rick and his own agenda, so he’s also vying for leadership. These are not dynamics that we’ve faced in the past, back when people were saying, “Oh, what do we do? What do we do?” This is really the group fighting amongst themselves, their backs against the wall without options and feeling the pressure. Meanwhile, the Governor knows where they are, and he’s pissed off, and he’s coming for them. It’s going to be an exciting ride, I can promise you that.

This might be reading too much into it, but when Beth welcomed Rick back with a kiss on the cheek, and the camera kind of lingered on it, I immediately thought it would mean trouble between Carl and Rick.
I’ll leave that open to interpretation. I do think what’s sweet about that moment is that Rick does so much for this group and to have someone gracefully thank him is just a heartfelt moment. People write a lot about the surprises and the character deaths and the twists and turns and the zombies and all that fun stuff, but the show really comes down to these moments. Maggie saying goodbye to Hershel, the Carl-Beth relationship, Carol being happy when she sees the baby but then realizing it means that Lori is no longer there… You’ll see those types of moments in every episode.

Carl appears to be handling his mom’s death better than Rick so far. Is it only a matter of time before it hits him?
I don’t think the loss of his mother can ever easily be resolved. I will say that Carl develops in interesting ways. He makes some choices that make a lot of sense – as well as some choices that scare the hell out of Rick and the group. Carl is fearless to some extent, and that’s not necessarily a good thing in this world. I won’t say he’s reckless, but having put down his own mother, he is perhaps the most battle-tested out of any character in the entire show. That is frightening.

Why didn’t Andrea bolt immediately after seeing the Governor’s true colors? She even found out he had been keeping Glenn and Maggie from her.
But is the Governor the sole reason to stay in Woodbury? There are innocent people who were attacked by her own group. As the Governor becomes fixated on revenge for Rick and Michonne, Andrea is forced into a leadership position in Woodbury. She is certainly a person who wants to save innocent people, but she also wants to reconnect with her friends and figure out what’s going on. So the question for her is: is there a solution in which she can bring it all together instead of picking one side or the other?

What’s up with the Governor laying low after losing his daughter, his eye and getting the crowd to turn on Merle? 
One of the things we’re trying to do is keep the show grounded and real, so the events in episode nine are the same day as Rick’s attack. The Governor is only taking the afternoon to figure out what’s going on. He wants to put together a plan. Yes, he’s dealing with the loss of his child, the loss of his eye, but he’s not a stupid character who is going to immediately charge into battle without having his questions answered first. I wouldn’t say he’s restraining himself.

I’m very glad both Merle and Daryl made it out alive. What’s next for them?
Michael Rooker is so much fun to work with. He’s such a wild card. You want that guy in the middle of the action screwing things up. What you’re going to see next is Daryl falling into an old pattern of behavior he’s had his entire life, which is something people do when they’re under stressful conditions. Think of all the history he’s had with his brother. He’ll fall back upon that and become the little brother again after we’ve seen him grow into a leader in Rick’s group. Now Daryl has choices: does he remain loyal to his blood? Does he remain loyal to Rick, who is now cracking under the pressure?

Walking Dead Boss Answers Burning Questions