'Walking Dead' Dissection: Steven Yeun on Glenn's Close Call -- 'He's a Man With a Purpose Now'

Glenn doesn't have a "hypercautious way of looking at things, but rather is fighting for the things that are important, regardless of what happens to him," the actor tells THR in our weekly postmortem.
"The Walking Dead's" Steven Yeun, left, with Scott Wilson

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the "Internment" episode of AMC's The Walking Dead.]

After a week out of the prison, AMC's The Walking Dead returned to the barred community Sunday with an episode involving threats both inside the compound and at the fences of their safe haven.

Before Daryl's (Norman Reedus) group returns, Hershel (Scott Wilson), Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are tasked with caring for the ill, seeing the group's numbers rapidly dwindle as the virus turns several of the sick. With Glenn's and Sasha's health failing, the council's leader was forced to take out his first member of the undead and care for his son-in-law, all while navigating the undead.

Meanwhile, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) teams with his son, Carl (Chandler Riggs), to take out a massive horde of walkers who have broken down the weakened fence and made their way in. It's a sobering wake-up call for Rick, who teaches his young son how to use a semiautomatic weapon and the two take down the pack side-by-side.

After Daryl's group returns with the meds to save Glenn's life and the internal and external threats resolved, Hershel sends the lovable redneck to talk to Rick about Carol's (Melissa McBride) whereabouts as the camera pulls back to reveal the Governor (David Morrissey) lurking just beyond the prison. 

The Hollywood Reporter turned to Yeun to break down the episode and preview what's ahead as part of our weekly postmortem series.

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What was your first response to reading the script for this episode? Were you worried about your future with the series -- especially after seeing Carol banished?

It was crazy! I had to have that conversation -- I remember seeing that happen and semi-panicking but also knowing that everybody would have told me if I was leaving leaving. I thought, "Oh great, that's it!" But it turned out to be me playing sick for quite some time. Our makeup artist made everyone look horrible. Before every take, I'd wretch and cough for a straight 30 seconds until they called action just so I'd look horrible the entire time. It was pretty fun!

How will Glenn's near-death experience change him going forward? Will he continue to be as cautious?

Glenn's arc is interesting because there are a lot of things that happened in the past couple seasons that might insinuate that he's learned or he's grown to be some sort of badass. But if you really think about the past and what Glenn went through preapocalypse, he was the kid that was told what to do -- maybe by his parents or society -- he was always trying to not go against the grain and not push harder. He just acquiesced to what society told him he was going to be. Now, he never had a true purpose, but as he goes forward, he realizes that he does have purpose and can be helpful. Then he finds Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and finds purpose in love, this new family, as a caregiver and as a lover. These are all things he wants to hold on to desperately, which is why in earlier episodes he was very cautious. He views death as something to run from and that fear keeps him from dying. You watch Glenn challenge Hershel when he says, "How long until we're all dead? All this and we're being taken out by a glorified cold?" Glenn comes around because Hershel has such a strong presence and is so resilient that he's going to face these horrible nightmares regardless of whether he might get sick or not because he'll do his duty to care for the people who he loves. That resonates with Glenn, and moving forward, it's not a particularly hypercautious way of looking at things, but rather fighting is, for the things that are important, regardless of what happens to him.

Where do Maggie and Glenn go now that she's seen him on the verge of death?

Their journey from here is solidarity. They have worked so hard to build this safety that they thought they had, and they've worked hard to live this life as normally as possible. Their goal is to continue on to make that a reality.

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Maggie consoled Lizzie at the end of the attack, and she was so key in helping to save Glenn. In Carol's absence, could Maggie and Glenn care for Lizzie? It would parallel their comics story with parenting Sophia after Carol's death.

That's definitely a possibility. Glenn's carefulness and wanting to hold on extends beyond Maggie. She's the core and clearly representative of that mission in life, but it's a greater understanding of wanting to get back to humanity and wanting to build from here. He's a man with a purpose now; he has meaning in his life, and that's what he's trying to cherish.

The Governor is just outside the prison. How long has he been spying on the group?

I'm not sure. He's always had an idea where the prison was because he may have been there before. Maybe he needed to regroup, maybe he needed to figure something out? We shall see!

Would we be wrong to speculate that maybe the Governor was the one feeding mice to walkers to draw the group out of the prison? Our theory is he and Bob (Larry Gilliard Jr.) are working together.

I don't think that would be wrong; that would definitely be a possibility. Every angle is a possibility on this show. You just never know. We don't know that much about Bob and all the new people that we encounter. What's interesting is there is still so much heart in this group. We still extend our hand to others even though we've been burned so many times. That is the resonance of the humanity that still exists in these people that might not exist in the people outside of this group.

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There are two Governor-focused episodes coming up. What can we expect? How has the Governor changed?

The two Governor episodes are completely necessary. This is a world-building season, and those two episodes are going to contribute to that heavily. 

Hershel really saved the day but did so at a price: having to kill his first walker. How will this affect him? That final scene is so heartbreaking.

Hershel is that embodiment of hope; he is hope realized. A man can still only take so much; he's constantly struggling with whether these humans who turned into walkers are still human and should we preserve that? We see him struggle with that in the second season, and he's learned a bit about it, but he still has to make that choice between humanity and complete chaos again. He tries to lean toward humanity and becomes the forefront leader in that regard. He influences a lot of people. Glenn looks to Hershel as the voice of reason and someone to aspire to. Dale (Jeff DeMunn) was like that for Glenn initially. Glenn is interesting because he absorbs a lot of people's ideals and mantras -- but only if they fall in line with what he is at his core. He doesn't know what his core is, but as he encounters people, he attracts those specific things to him and those are the things that help him carry on in spite of how horrible life can be. Glenn has been through quite a lot; every season, Glenn has eaten a lot of shit. (Laughs.) He's a resilient dude and sees people who continue to persevere in the face of all the struggle, and he knows he has that in him, too, to carry that torch as well.

Bob is helping to treat everyone suffering from the flu. Is this the end of that illness storyline -- at least within the confines of the prison?

You never know. The flu definitely still plays a part; you don't just heal right away -- even if you have medicine, it takes time to recover from. A lot of that stuff will play.

Maggie and Hershel both seemed to support Rick's decision about Carol. How might Glenn -- and Daryl -- respond?

Right now neither of them know, and it'll be interesting to see how all that pans out.

Rick enlisted Carl to fight the walkers at the fences side by side, a sobering experience. Does Carl's ability to fight so easily scare him? Where do they go from there?

That goes to show what kind of world these characters live in. For a lot of people to have grown into the people that they are, it took society to be stripped away, for all these rules that society has governed to be stripped away. We're going back now to our primal instincts and necessities, and when that happens, you can't count a kid out. You can't count Carl out at all. There are child soldiers now that are probably younger than him. I'm sure it might come as a surprise because people try to hold on to this old version of society, but it's not that anymore. It's great to see Carl's growth.

Are you relieved that Glenn is out of the woods? Hit the comments with your thoughts on that and the Governor's arrival. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit