7:05pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Walking Dead' Returns With Two Main Characters' Fates Hanging in the Balance
[This story contains spoilers for the season 10B premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead, "Squeeze."]
Entering the midseason premiere, The Walking Dead viewers were left to ponder the potential impending deaths of several central players: Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), sisters Connie and Kelly (Lauren Ridloff and Angel Theory), Magna (Nadia Hilker), Jerry (Cooper Andrews) and Aaron (Ross Marquand), all of whom were trapped in a cave surrounded by the Whisperers' vast zombie horde.
Those seeking clarity on the matter may find themselves disappointed after "Squeeze," written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and directed by Michael Satrazemis. Focusing mostly on Daryl and friends' claustrophobic escape from their subterranean nightmare, the premiere ends with all parties accounted for, save for two: Connie and Magna, who are trapped when a cave exit collapses, leaving their fates unknown.
Are Connie and Magna alive? Showrunner Angela Kang won't say one way or the other, as the very question about their continued survival will permeate the episodes ahead.
"That's part of the story going forward," Kang tells The Hollywood Reporter about the cliffhanger. "There's a contingent that strongly believes they are alive and there are some who may lose hope along the way, but you will find the answers to that as the season goes along."
It's far from the first time The Walking Dead has left main characters' fates in doubt, only to reveal the miraculous means of their survival some episodes later. The most famous example: Steven Yeun's Glenn, seemingly killed off early on in season six, only for the man to crawl underneath a dumpster and escape his terrible fate. No dumpsters in the elaborate cave network where Magna and Connie are trapped, but if past is prologue, then their stories aren't quite finished yet.
As for how Magna and Connie's uncertain fates will sit with the greater cast, the ramifications are clear: Kelly has potentially lost a sister, while Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) has potentially lost her lover, emotionally estranged as they are at the moment. Another person who has lost a blossoming love interest: Daryl, whose feelings for Connie remain unspoken on his end, but are clearly identified by Carol, who shoulders the blame for Connie's apparent demise. Though he stops short of laying more heat on Carol, Daryl's final scene in the episode — wandering off into the forest on a quest to find the Whisperers and save Connie — makes it clear that he and his best friend Carol, who got everyone into the cave-in situation due to her vendetta against Alpha (Samantha Morton), aren't quite seeing eye to eye anymore.
"We want you left with the sense that vengeance quests come with a certain amount of darkness and consequences, that revenge always comes with a price," says Kang. "That's the emotional place you're left in, and it's going to lead to a lot of stories for our characters going forward. In the midst of this episode where we wanted to do something that was a fun horror adventure, there's also a lot of deep and dark emotional underpinnings to it all. There's a lot of danger to come for our heroes."
"As this is all starting to come to a head, the pace from episode to episode does pick up," Kang continues, looking ahead toward the season's remaining seven episodes. "So many big things are happening. There's some time passage in the back half, but all of it still feels like it's going and going and going. All of these events feel interconnected to each other. It's going to keep ramping up all the way to the end."
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