The Walking Dead aired an unusual Season 10 finale on Sunday night. The episode was not able to conclude the batch of episode which began Season 10 in the fall of 2019 because the true finale, Episode 10x16, has not yet been completed. The behind the series has been unable to get to thee studio where post-production is executed, so the VFX, sound, and other elements of the episode are not yet ready to air. AMC and the team behind the zombie series had no choice but to air Episode 10x15 as a temporary finale, leaving viewers hungry for a bit more which they'll get later this year.
The episode did have a lot to offer, nonetheless. Not only is a massive showdown set up between Daryl and Beta but Eugene, his group, and new friend Princess are on a crash course with a brand new community. Following the episode, a preview for the true finale, Episode 10x16, revealed the return of Lauren Cohan as Maggie. All of these topics and more were discussed by The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang in the following exclusive and uncut interview.
Be warned! Spoilers for The Walking Dead Episode 10x15 (The Tower) follow!
ComicBook.com: Let me start with the newest addition: Princess! She's amazing. Paola Lazaro is fantastic. Can you could break down the goal for the character, and how you decided on her with the casting?
Angela Kang: Obviously for comic book fans, here's this character that came in, she's sort of wild and unlike anybody our people have met, so that made it really fun to imagine bringing her into the show. And I think, for us, the thing that we were really dealing with was, here's this character that we love and think is really fun; how do we make sure that when she comes in, she feels like she's properly been in the apocalypse? What's her state of mind? How does she look? Even in talking with Kirkman, he's like, "With the purple hair, just make sure it looks like it's apocalypse purple." And it's like, "Yeah, of course."
We auditioned so many different people. There were several really great candidates that we looked at. Paola is somebody that really jumped out to me from the beginning, and I think she won the role because she's a great actress. We had her do both a really comedic scene, but then also something that was really sort of emotional. If you know some of the stuff that she talks about in the comic book, she has a lot of depth.
I just think Paola did an amazing job and she just folded right in with the rest of the cast. That group of four really had a great time working together, even though they were rained on pretty much constantly. Every time they were onscreen it was raining on them. They had this great experience and she was wonderful.
CB: In the comics, this sequence is set in Pittsburgh, which would be slightly out of the way going from Alexandria to Charleston, West Virginia. Was this supposed to be Pittsburgh?
AK: No, it's not supposed to be Pittsburgh. We took a different path. The comic book destinations, we were mapping and we're like, "Pittsburgh does feel a little out of the way." And also, there was a request from Scott from the universe side to sort of avoid that area, and so we are on a different path.
So, it's not Pittsburgh.
CB: Have you revealed what city? What skyline was that?
AK: I am not sure. It's a digital skyline.
CB: My favorite moment of the episode and possibly of the entire season is Daryl and Judith in the woods towards the end of 10x15. It definitely seems to becoming this really touching, almost paternal relationship and I love every bit of how it's written. Is Daryl inheriting the paternal role of Judith and RJ with Michonne and Rick absent?
AK: Rick, that was his best friend, and Michonne was his other best friend. Carol obviously too, but that family has always been special to him. And if you remember back to season three when Judith was born, Daryl was the one that immediately was like, "I'm going to go get her formula, like right now. Come on, let's go." He's always had this very special protectiveness for her. And I think Michonne kind of was like, "You're in charge of my kids while I'm gone." And so he takes that really seriously.
We were going for, in that scene... There was this scene as writers that we really love, I think also in season three between Rick and Carl, where Rick has to take Carl aside at the same age that Judith is now and say, "A lot of people are going to die. I'm going to die, and Mom's going to die," and it was just really about the reality of the world.
Now, we're many years later, and we were like, what's the version of that conversation that's Daryl has with Judith? And actually, I think that the conversation is a more hopeful one in some ways, where Rick at the beginning of it had to tell his son, "It's going to get dark but we'll move on," and Daryl was like, "It is dark, but there's still light. There's so many people that care about you."
I think that that kind of hopeful message is important for that relationship between Daryl and Judith. It's also specific to that relationship of those two characters. So, I'm glad you liked it. It's one that I really loved how the writers pulled that off, and I think Norman and Cailey are always wonderful together onscreen.
CB: When she tells him Michonne left, she leaves out that she found signs of Rick possibly being out there. My theory is that she's afraid that if Daryl knows Rick is out there, he'll leave too. Why, from your perspective, does Judith not tell Daryl about the possible Rick clues?
AK: In our minds, that was exactly why, too. She knows that Daryl... Rick was like Daryl's brother. Daryl was the one that kept searching for him for years out in the woods. She's a child, and I think there's part of it which is she feels like she's not sure that she's supposed to say anything about what her mother's doing, going out there. But I think also she is scared. She's scared that the one remaining parent figure that she has is going to run away too, at a time when they need him.
So I think Judith just is feeling a lot of weight of responsibility beyond her years right now. She's ultimately a child. She's a child who's very wise, but she doesn't exactly know how to handle everything perfectly either. Nobody does.
CB: Yeah. And at the end of the episode, we come to this tower with Beta and his guardians, which looks to be the same real-world location as where Daryl carried Beth out of the hospital. Can you confirm that?
AK: I don't know. We use a lot of different locations!
CB: We have these big showdowns teased for this finale between so many different characters. It seems like everything is really going to come to a head. What can you tease about Beta's plans with this giant horde and how everybody's going to be able to combat that?
AK: Yeah. Okay, we know that Beta is maybe not in the best shape, and he's hell-bent on revenge. His Alpha is dead and he's still wearing half her face. I think that our people and Beta and the Whisperers, they're all on a collision course and it's finally all going to come to an epic head.
People who watched the sneak previews will see that Maggie is back, and that's going to be part of the story. Carol feels like she's got a lot to make up for. She'll be stepping up. We obviously have Daryl in a position of leadership. And Beta, and Negan, there's a lot of people with a lot of beef against each other, so that's all going to come to a head, too.
We'll see Gabriel stepping up as a leader and being in some perilous situations. Everybody is going to do what they do best as heroes and fight in the face of impossible odds. It's a big, action-packed adventure for everybody when we come back.
The Real Finale
CB: We don't know when everything in our world is going to clear up, so it's impossible to predict the timeline for when that episode will air. How much time, say everybody got back to work tomorrow, do you think the team needs that once everything's done will be able to say, "Okay, we need this amount of time before we can finish this episode and share it with everybody"? Is this impacting your work on the future seasons at all?
AK: Actually, we're continuing to work on the future season remotely. Writing, I think, is the easiest process to do remotely, and even that is a little... It's tricky. We're not quite able to work at the same exact pace as we would when we're in the office, but we were very close to finishing 16. We usually deliver the episodes for a big effects-heavy episode about two weeks before we air. We were about a week and a half out at the point which California shut down.
What is continuing remotely is the effects that can be finished, but even after all of that's done, all the shots need to be laid in. There's a color process that needs machines to be finished. There's sound work that we usually do on the Warner Brothers stage, and that's very complex mixing equipment that you can't just move into somebody's house overnight. And multiple people work on that.
So we're very, very close to finishing. I think actually, by the time the world is safe for people to start venturing out, probably all of the effects will be done, and then it's just a handful of processes and it can be turned around very, very quickly. We're very hopeful that we can get it all done very rapidly once we're back up and running.0comments
CB: You mentioned Maggie's return. It's set for the finale. What can you tease about having Lauren Cohan back and what we can expect from Maggie's big return that's been so highly anticipated?
AK: We'll see Maggie come into the show, and... There's not much I can say without being spoiler-y. But Maggie is part of the heart of these people's lives. There's so much love for her within our communities, and she was a leader at a time when so much of the leadership at Hilltop had been lost. Even as we're working on season 11, we've got so much great stuff planned for her. So I'm just excited for her to be back in the family and for us to do more great stuff with Maggie.