'Walking Dead's' Andrew Lincoln: There's a "Storm Brewing"

Walking Dead Rick - H 2015

Walking Dead Rick - H 2015

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

The Ricktatorship is back.

AMC's The Walking Dead wrapped its fifth season in somewhat lackluster fashion with the expected return of a fan favorite and two character deaths that set the stage for a new world order within the walls of Alexandria.

Sunday's finale also formally introduced a new human threat in the form of the Wolves, a group whose booby trap nearly claimed the lives of Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Aaron (Ross Marquand). The duo cheated death, however, when Morgan (Lennie James) appeared from out of nowhere to save the day and fight off a throng of walkers. The three then came home to Alexandria — unfortunately, the timing was less than ideal as the first thing they saw was Morgan's long-lost friend Rick (Andrew Lincoln) executing Pete in front of a crowd of onlookers at Alexandria's meeting gone bad. 

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

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Andrew Lincoln to break down the events of the finale and get an early glance at season six.

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

The big focus of season five was to see if these people are too far gone in terms of their humanity and if they can fit back in to what a new world looks like. Do you think Rick is too far gone?

I think he's certainly damaged. This season, since getting to Alexandria, it's very much about Rick thinking about whether he has to change for this world or if the world has to change for him. I think we really got lucky with the gates being opened. But I think it's going to take Rick some time for him to assimilate. Deanna (Tova Feldshuh) has realized that she's almost catching up to where Rick is. It's a difficult one. I defend my character, and I don't see him as too far gone; I see him as realistic in tems of his own experience of the world.

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

I'm going to find that out when I fly out to L.A. in two weeks and walk into the writers room with [showrunner] Scott Gimple. He'll close the door, and I'll find out if I'm going to die this year. Hopefully that won't happen! Then I'll find out the theme of the season — hopefully he won't say Rick's death.

With Deanna now having lost her husband and one of her sons, how might their relationship change given the return of the Ricktatorship? How will this time be different?

I’m very keen for it not to be an "I told you so moment" at the end because she lost so much in such a short space of time. I did feel that with her calling for the execution, there was a knowing in that response to her husband's murder. It's a very dark ending to the season, but then there's also other things on the horizon as well which don't look very good for the Alexandrians. In the space of four episodes, Deanna's world has come crashing down. As is the way with our show, we carry a lot of baggage with us, and in short space of time, we seem to have made ourselves at home and and also broken a few things along the way.

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Morgan arrives at Alexandria to find Rick executing someone — in front of a whole crowd, no less. Is there part of Morgan who feels like Rick may be regressing the same way he has been?

Certainly Rick looks like a completely changed man. Morgan appears like a mirage, and Rick can't understand why or how he gets back into his life. From where I stood, he looks like a different man — a man who seems far more calm, collected and rational. That is going to make for some very interesting drama.

Can Morgan and Michonne level Rick a bit?

That's a very good point; I hadn't thought about Michonne yet. In episodes 15 and 16, you realize that he's a tinder box and ready to explode. It feels like he's a control freak, and he relinquished control and people died. That's how Rick viewed it. He was so responsible for everybody, and I do think there are certain people that have his ear — people who are responsible like Michonne, Glenn and now Daryl — but also there are people who have different methods, like Carol, who have had quite an influence on Rick. There are lots of open-ended questions going into season six about where people stand in this new community and what they want for it.

Jessie is Rick's first love interest since Lori. How does Pete's death impact their relationship?

It's not looking promising! That first candlelit dinner could be a bit awkward. It's never easy for Rick, is it? He has feelings for the first time in two years, and the woman in question is married, and within a short space of time, Rick has a street brawl and shoots her husband. It's not tender in the apocalypse — it's a bit more complicated than that. I look forward to reading the script — or at least that first scene — to see how that goes!

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

What about Michonne — she's been the one to whack Rick when he's getting out of line. How would you characterize their relationship: Are they friends or is there the potential to see something romantic between them? A lot of people have been rooting for a romance between them.

My mom has as well, she's very much behind that! I love their relationship, and I think there are certain people that he has respect and love for, and he owes his life to. And Michonne is one of those people who can call him out, as we saw this season, and he will listen. Daryl is able to do it, Tyreese was able to do it and Glenn is able to do it. There are few people who are able to anchor him. I'm intrigued to see where Michonne and Rick's relationship goes.

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The so-called Wolves have seen photos of the paradise at Alexandria. How big of a threat are they right now?

They're a huge threat. In one sense, it was a perfect storm — this happening with the gates being opened and the bit of benevolence of the outside on the inside. It feels like we got very lucky; otherwise Rick and the gang may have taken the place in a hostile way. Now it feels like potentially there could be some communication between Deanna and Rick's people — and if that is the case, they have to move swiftly because this is a storm brewing.

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

I'm very excited by that statement. What does that mean?! That's really interesting!

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

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
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