8:30pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Walking Dead' Victims Say Farewell as Creator Robert Kirkman Previews What's Next
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode 708, "Hearts Still Beating," of AMC's The Walking Dead as well as the comic book series on which it is based.]
The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and two of the AMC drama's latest victims took to Talking Dead on Sunday to say farewell and preview what to expect from the AMC zombie drama when it returns for the second half of its seventh season Feb. 12.
The midseason finale featured Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his Saviors continuing to have their way with the people of Alexandria. Gone from the zombie drama based on Kirkman's comic series are series regular Austin Nichols' defiant Spencer Monroe and recurring player Olivia (Ann Mahoney), the latter of whom oversaw the armory.
Spencer's death largely mirrored the events of the comic, with Negan slashing open his stomach after the former attempted to convince the bat-swinging villain that he would make a better leader than Rick (Andrew Lincoln).
Olivia, meanwhile, was shot in the face and made to pay for Rosita's (Christian Serratos) shot at Negan (and damage to his beloved bat, Lucille).
"I'm glad it wasn't a walker in the woods; I'm glad it was Negan. It was badass," said Nichols of the way Spencer was killed off. He noted that for his two years on the series he hoped that Spencer would become a hero, but given the events of the comics, he wasn't surprised to see the character be killed off.
Talking Dead also featured a special taped message from an emotional Mahoney, who said she knew Olivia's run on The Walking Dead was up the minute showrunner Scott M. Gimple called her. "He said we never expected that people would like Olivia quite as much as the Olivia you created. He said it's going to be quick and painless," she recalled, calling Olivia the friend you instantly trust. "She takes care of people; she's a nurturer. It's a lovely going-away for a lovely person."
As for Daryl killing off the Savior known as "Fat Joey," Kirkman noted it was an example of how much has changed for Norman Reedus' fan-favorite character.
"Daryl has been the peacemaker, telling Rick in past seasons, 'We still need to bring people in and trust people,'" said Kirkman. "And to see him snap shows how hard it has been for him at the Sanctuary and how much Negan has gotten under his skin."
"He's ready to kick some ass; he's in hate mode right now," added Reedus. "It's always been in the back of my mind — 'I hope Maggie forgives me.' I think he's going through a whole bunch of stuff, but I do think he's ready to kill someone."
In terms of where the zombie drama goes when season seven returns Feb. 12, Reedus indicated that Daryl giving Rick his beloved gun back was a signal for him to fight back against Negan and the Saviors. It was a similar message that Michonne had for Rick in the Alexandria jail cell that Morgan built last season.
"Michonne hasn't gone through that journey that Rick has gone through. Seeing Abraham and Glenn die broke Rick down," Kirkman said. "But Michonne has always been in this mindset. That inspired him. Michonne is a stronger character than Rick Grimes. She handled this a lot better; she didn't lose her nerve. Seeing that in her is what changed Rick's mind."
As for the mysterious figure seen stalking Father Gabriel as well as Rick and Aaron at the lake, Kirkman remained mum. "It's a big part of what we're dealing with when we come back in the next half of season," he said. "We'll be revealing that soon."
The first half of the season spent a lot of time building up communities including King Ezekiel's Kingdom, establishing Maggie at the Hilltop, and setting up Carol on her own yet on the border of the Kingdom. Now that the group has been reunited in the finale, Kirkman hinted that the second half would focus on business as usual.
"[It's] Rick Grimes back to being Rick Grimes; Daryl Dixon back to being Daryl Dixon; the whole group back together ready to kick some ass."
For more Walking Dead coverage, bookmark THR.com/WalkingDead. Check out a preview of the midseason return below.