7:02pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Walking Dead' Star Sonequa Martin-Green on Facing Negan: "It's Time for the Revolution"
[This story contains spoilers from episode 712, "Say Yes," of AMC's The Walking Dead.]
While Rick and his group at Alexandria scavenge for supplies with the hope of uniting multiple communities to battle Negan and his deadly Saviors, Sasha and Rosita have their own very different — and potentially deadly — idea.
Sunday's The Walking Dead featured a rare win for Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) who, after a few close brushes with death, wound up hitting the jackpot of weapons and food at an abandoned school carnival.
Meanwhile, Rosita (Christian Serratos) continues to take matters into her own hands and journeys to the Hilltop to meet Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). There, the duo agree to journey to Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) Sanctuary. Armed with a long-distance rifle, they set out on what they know is a suicide mission to take down the man who killed Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), whom they both loved.
Below, Martin-Green talks with The Hollywood Reporter about why these characters would venture out on their own while Rick works to build a large and well-armed army to take down the Saviors. Can Sasha survive the season given Martin-Green's commitment to starring in another show (CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery)?
Sasha and Rosita agree on a plan to come after Negan, knowing that it's a "one-way ticket." Why is Sasha so ready to accept a suicide mission?
There's been a tremendous amount of growth because of everything that Sasha has gone through and she feels that she's come to a defining moment in her life now: Everything has come together and all signs have been pointing to this moment. She and the rest of the group feel that they have a tremendous opportunity to redefine the world they live in; Sasha represents a reality that is bigger than what Negan represents. Negan represents a principle that can't be perpetuated in this new world. There are so few of us who are still alive and we have a responsibility to make sure the right ideals are being upheld and we are willing to sacrifice everything to get it. Like getting Maggie to the Hilltop when she and her baby were not well — and we lost family on that mission but we were all ready to sacrifice ourselves to carry on those legacies. Sasha feels like she's carrying out Abraham's legacy. It's really moving.
If Sasha's mission succeeds and she takes out Negan, does she automatically become the best character in the history of the series?
(Laughing) This path to standing up against Negan and what he represents is a very windy path. But [becoming the best character in the series] would be the case for anyone who took him out because he's the worst person that we've come in contact with because of how his way of life reverberates. He's incredibly dangerous and he could be the end of the world in a way.
I'd love to see Sasha be the one to do it because she has lost so much — her brother Tyreese as well as boyfriends including Abraham and Bob — and she needs a win!
She's had so much loss. Honestly, if you calculate everyone's losses, they add up exponentially. Sasha has lost a lot in a short period of time. She seems very aggravated because it's been such a short time that she's lost so many people who were very important in her life and who she holds close in her heart.
Is this revenge mission how Sasha has been coping with Abraham's death?
Sasha's understanding of her purpose has broadened. She was very selfish when she first came into the zombie apocalypse and was more focused on the self-preservation of it all. She had a lot of defense mechanisms in place and was only concerned about survival and didn't care about connecting with anyone. She put a wall up and that was how she made it through. Then when she lost Bob and Tyreese, that wall broke down completely and she spiraled all the way down and had to come back up and realize that she was scared but was strong enough to take the risk to connect with people. So after losing Abraham, it's just confirmation that her purpose is not a selfish one. Now she's expanded her understanding of life and those around her. Sasha now sees a that her purpose is greater than herself and that perhaps she's not the one to have a relationship. She sees that her service to this world is going to be different than what she originally thought, and she's willing to make that sacrifice.
Even though Sasha knows that Rick is preparing for battle and attempting to rally other communities, why do she and Rosita take matters into their own hands?
There's a certain amount of doubt there. Both Sasha and Rosita feel the mission is not going to get accomplished. But they are taking their experience and what they've seen thus far and are either right on track or paranoid. But Sasha tells Enid in an earlier episode when she's caught keeping her plan away from Maggie that "if there were a lot of people, then I wouldn't have to do it alone." And Rosita, in a sense, has that same conversation with other people. They both decided that they're the best people for the job because they're the only ones with nothing to lose because they've lost those who were closest to them already. The fact that they have nothing to lose gives them a higher chance of success at getting it done. There's also the sense of wanting to protect the people who have found someone: They feel like they're the right people to do this because they need to do this for the everyone. They take the risks themselves so the others don't have to.
How else will we see Rosita and Sasha work together?
These are two strong women who have gone through a lot and redefined themselves. There's a deep connection and respect there. Even though there are all these matters of conflict on the surface, Sasha has certainly seen beneath those things and reached out to Rosita because it was never in the plans for her to be hurt by Sasha and Abraham's relationship. Sasha has always felt sorry about how Rosita was hurt in the process and believes that they can bond over what unites them rather than be in conflict. Once they find common ground, they can be stronger together.
Can both of them survive this ordeal?
Oh yes! For sure! I definitely do. I think anyone could. I think any duo paired up in our gang of heroes could succeed for sure. We've developed to this point where that kind of thing is possible.
If Sasha and Rosita were to get caught at the Sanctuary, what kind of experience would they have there? Daryl and Eugene have had two vastly different experiences at Negan's camp.
That's an interesting question because Negan is so unpredictable. Once you see what he's doing, you can track his reasons, but it's almost impossible to anticipate them. It's hard to know how he would respond. Would he see Rosita and Sasha as people he needs to break down like Daryl or would he see them as assets like Eugene? That's what's exciting because who knows how he might respond — especially because he has that anger toward women.
How might Maggie respond to learning Sasha's plan? Is this something that Maggie would support?
Sasha has told Enid and Jesus to keep the secret from Maggie and to keep her safe. Sasha knows Maggie would want to help her and would drop everything to do so because she's lost everything, too. But she has one thing left to hold on to: her child with Glenn. She has this protective mother spirit that is rising in her. And Sasha knows she can't have Maggie come along. Everyone is having this journey where they have to re-create their reality and can't have Negan's way of life stand and prevail. Even Rick says protecting the future — with Judith as well as Maggie and Glenn's baby — that's living. It's beautiful that everyone is having their own journey to that truth. But for Sasha, Maggie's child is a representation of what she's sacrificing for, so Maggie can't come along.
Looking ahead, you were cast as the lead role in CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery. Were Sasha to survive this season — and that's a big if — how will you juggle both shows? How does your Star Trek character compare to Sasha?
I can't say anything about that!
Hypothetically, if Sasha were to be killed off — and going on a suicide mission to kill Negan is very risky — why would now be the right point to wrap her story? What would make now a worthy moment to remove this character from the board?
In a broader sense, this group has battled and been victorious over lots of enemies in our time but never before has an enemy like Negan come and been such a threat to life. The entire world is at risk. If school was still in session in this world, let's say decades go by and Negan's way of life is a new form of slavery. One of the deeper themes of the zombie apocalypse is the second chance to live better and have a better society. One that's more inclusive, loving and progressive. That's what you're seeing in this season. When our group comes against that danger of losing everything, the only thing that keeps them going forward are those things that really matter: love, connection and family. It would be appropriate for it to be the end for anyone right now because this is the biggest fight we've ever had.
There are four episodes left this season. What can you say about how this season wraps up?
It's time. That's what comes to me. It's everyone coming into the puzzle where they fit for the goal and what really matters. It's deep, soulful, spiritual and cerebral stuff. It's time for the revolution.
So you're feeling optimistic about Sasha's chances going forward?
Yes, I am! Sasha and Rosita agree to do this together and know that they're ready and have the ability, skill and passion to do it.
What did you think of Sasha and Rosita's decision? Sound off in the comments, below. For more Walking Dead coverage, bookmark THR.com/WalkingDead.