Tonight marks the return of The Walking Dead Season 3, and I recently caught up with Glen Mazzara to talk about the second half of season and his upcoming work outside of the TV series. For the first part of the feature, we discuss the events of "The Suicide King" and what to expect from upcoming episodes. I've also included choice quotes regarding Michonne and the prison from another interview I recently conducted with him during the mid-season break.
*Spoiler Warning: Do not read this interview if you have not yet seen episode 3.09 of The Walking Dead.
For only being a single episode, The Suicide King really covers a lot of territory and sets up a number of upcoming storylines.
Glen Mazzara: We take some risks in this episode and I think Lesli Glatter did a great job directing it. It was Evan Reilly's script and he's always fantastic. This episode brings everyone back in a way that pays off the cliffhanger, sets up some new dynamics for the back half of the season, and you have a couple of twists at the end. I don't think you expect Rick to be as fragile as he is or for Tyreese to leave the prison. There's a lot set up there, but I think it's a fun episode.
We clearly see that Rick hasn't recovered from Lori's passing. Is this just a small taste of what's in store for Rick? Will the group be witness to more of his losing touch with reality?
Glen Mazzara: He needs to process the pain and the loss of his wife. So far, we've seen private moments. The hallucination on the phone was seen by Hershel, but Hershel wasn't sure what to do about it at the time. Rick saw Shane and no one knew, but he's seeing Lori in front of everyone and things are getting worse. He can't keep that in the closet, people are going to be aware of that, and it's going to be more of a problem for the group. They need Rick now more than ever and he's at his weakest point. The Governor is coming from them and it really puts pressure on everyone.
Something many viewers probably didn't see coming was Daryl splitting from the main group. Now that Daryl and Merle are on their own, will Daryl revert to more of the person he was before Merle left?
Glen Mazzara: That's the story. I think you see Daryl reverting to some degree in 309, because he's falling into step after his big brother. He's a very different person, though, and he's going to be torn between his adopted and biological family. Merle is a different person as well since Daryl left him. They have both grown apart and the question is: Do they reconcile?
I'm very happy with the back half of the season, in the sense that we push in deeper into the character arcs, emotions, and the development of these characters. That's what we're going for in the back half. It's not at the expense of thrills or pacing, but we had to introduce many new characters and storylines to get up and running in the first half. You'll see some terrific work from the entire cast, but in particular, Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus.
A character that I frequently see debated is Andrea, who is a main focus of this episode. It's tough for some people to understand her actions, but the audience has a lot more information than she does. Will she continue to learn more about The Governor's secrets and what can we expect from her in the next episodes?
Glen Mazzara: I think a lot of viewers have been tough on this character. Andrea is trying to make the best choice possible in this apocalyptic world. The Governor and Woodbury have been a reasonable choice from what she's seen. Now she's been confronted with the truth, so she'll be forced to take action, but that will probably lead to a lot of viewer debate.
Does she reject The Governor, go to the prison and wait for him to kill them all? Does she try to have an active role in Woodbury and try to reconcile the differences between the two groups? What would really happen if someone was caught in the middle of the war? That's an interesting story and that's the story we've always been building to. A lot of time fans become frustrated with material, but this is a story that's told over sixteen episodes and we're only halfway in.
How long has Andrea been in Woodbury? A couple of weeks? What has she really seen The Governor do except for the fights? She hasn't seen anything. We're very careful to pay attention to real circumstances and the fact that people don't always make rational decisions during a stressful situation. For example, Daryl deciding to go with his brother is a split decision. There's too much for him to process right then and it will be interesting to see how fans take that decision.
Andrea will be a prominent player in the back half of the season and it's always been designed like that because we're interested in telling complicated stories. We want to keep the audience enthralled and guessing, and to tell as thrilling a story as possible.
Michonne is still with Rick's group, but he doesn't want her to stay. What's it going to take for her to regain his trust?
Glen Mazzara: At this point, Rick has only known Michonne for one day. Michonne realizes that she needed to try to join this group because life on the road is certain death. She's hit rock bottom...
...She needs to justify her actions, particularly in the next few episodes. Why has she not said that Andrea is at Woodbury? What was her real agenda for going back? Does she try to go back to explain things to Andrea? Does she try to explain her behavior to fit into Rick’s group? She doesn’t speak a lot, by design, but she has a lot of explaining to do and it will push her out of her comfort zone.
We’re going to see Michonne develop. There has been some feedback online about her not speaking much, but we’re just meeting this character. Danai has done a fantastic job of introducing the character and we’re going to reveal new dimensions to Michonne as we move forward.
The prison has been a big part of Season 3 so far. What have you done to continue making it interesting and scary for Rick’s group in the rest of the season?
Glen Mazzara: The prison is a major character in the show. First you meet the backyard, then the courtyard, and the cell block, and the tomb. We kept peeling layers back and they were designed methodically. Rick was effective in taking back the prison until Hershel loses his leg.
There’s one thing that maybe has confused the audience. When we first encountered the prison in the season premiere, Daryl points to fire damage and says that part of the prison is in disarray. We see that when Tyreese goes there, so there is a part of the prison that can never completely be secured unless they erect a fence or something like that.
Right now, our characters are caught between the walkers and The Governor. The Governor is furious and wants revenge, and he knows where they live. They have two obstacles to deal with.
Check back later this coming week to hear what Glen Mazzara had to say about his favorite memories from working on The Walking Dead and life after the TV series. We still have a Lew Temple interview coming up, plus coverage of the upcoming episodes, and a set visit report next month. Visit the following links to catch up on our recent coverage: