'Walking Dead' EP: Rick and Morgan's Roles Have Reversed

Gale Anne Hurd also explains why Glenn didn't kill Nicholas in the season five finale.
Gene Page/AMC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from "Conquer," the season five finale of AMC's The Walking Dead.]

AMC's The Walking Dead closed the book on season five with a 90-minute episode that kicked off a new era at Alexandria as a fan favorite made his triumphant return.

Sunday's finale also formally introduced the Wolves, the potential new villain of the previously announced sixth season who, via a trap, nearly claimed Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Aaron's (Ross Marquand) lives. The duo cheated death, however, when Morgan (Lennie James) saved the day. The trio then officially arrived in Alexandria to see Morgan's long-lost friend Rick (Andrew Lincoln) execute Pete in front of a crowd.

See more 'The Walking Dead's' Most Shocking Deaths

The Hollywood Reporter turned to executive producer Gale Anne Hurd to break down the events of the finale and get an early glance at season six.

Season five explored whether or not these survivors are too far gone. What's the theme of season six?

I don't know. All that I know is what [showrunner] Scott Gimple said on Talking Dead because I haven't read any scripts yet.

Read more 'Walking Dead's' Norman Reedus: The Wolves Are a "Bunch of Daryls Gone South"

How will this Ricktatorship be different than the last time?

I don't know; I haven't read anything.

Glenn came close to killing Nicholas — and was nearly killed himself. What was the conversation like about whether or not to kill Glenn? The finale really lacked a meaningful death beyond Pete —

That's never how we approach things on the show. We don't think, "What can we build up to and how can we shock the audience?" It really is about the evolution of the overall chain for the season as well as character development. Glenn would have become Nicholas — not a cowardly Nicholas — but someone who could kill someone else. That final image that he saw of Noah in the revolving door — it would have been in defiance of everything that Noah had left him: Survive but don't lose who you are; don't become one of them. Don't become Nicholas. Don't become Aiden.

Watch 'Walking Dead' Spinoff Debuts First Footage

Something fundamental has happened to Morgan to bring out this change since Rick last saw him in "Clear." What kind of story are you looking to tell by bringing him back now?

Morgan's story will be interesting because he was clearly a homicidal maniac when we saw him in "Clear," and now he's transformed into this Zen warrior and someone who is able to survive, who is able to take on multiple people with his fighting staff, but he's not someone who really wants to have to kill anyone. When he encounters Rick, it looks to him like Rick just killed another human being in cold blood, execution style. There could be some interesting encounters given how their roles have reversed.

See more 'Walking Dead' Comes to Life: From Comics to the Small Screen

When Morgan last saw Rick, he muttered, "People wearing dead people's faces." Might that be a nod to the Whispers from the comics?

There are always nods to the comics. Sometimes they're direct. If you look at panels from the comic when Rick and Pete are fighting and they come out that front window on the porch, it's an exact representation of the panel. In other cases we change stuff, like Deanna. There are constant nods and references to the comic book, but not always directly.

We've seen the Wolves: Is this a remixed version of the Scavengers from the comics?

I can't discuss that.

In a statement on Talking Dead, showrunner Scott Gimple said the biggest threat in season six isn't humans. If it's not humans, what is it? Walkers?

I think we have a world that's overrun with walkers. We saw that in the beginning with the walker that Rick had to take on in the season finale. I think that could be it.  

Read more 'Walking Dead' Ends Season With Bloodshed, Long-Awaited Return, New Threat

Daryl and Aaron have seen how smart the Wolves can be — and Morgan knows their mindset. How different is the threat of the Wolves compared with other human forces we've seen before like Gareth and The Governor?

The interesting thing here is just how smart this group is: the booby-traps that they've set, that they seem to be able to have figured out how the walkers can be be almost controlled with music, etc. That's a huge step up in terms of strategy and tactics, even from the Terminus [residents] who promised sanctuary and, of course, provided something quite the opposite.

Fear The Walking Dead starts as a prequel. How will this show connect with the flagship?

I can't talk about that. We're following entirely different characters in an entirely new setting.

What did you think of The Walking Dead's season finale? Sound off in the comments below.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit

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