'Walking Dead': Who Is That Mystery Villain?

Executive producer Scott M. Gimple fills in the mysterious gaps to Sunday's season five premiere
Courtesy of AMC
"The Walking Dead's" Andrew Lincoln and Owen Harn

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead's fifth season premiere and the comic series the AMC series is based on.]

AMC's The Walking Dead on Sunday pulled back the curtain on season five — and on Gareth, the leader of the camp of cannibals at Terminus — only there's more to the man Rick vowed to kill than meets the eye.

The episode flashed back and forth in time to reveal that Gareth (Andrew J. West), his mother and brother, among others, originally oversaw Terminus as a "Sanctuary for All," where "those who arrive, survive." However, all that changed when the camp was invaded by another group that turned Terminus — and Gareth's people — into the brutal cannibals Sunday's premiere revealed them to be.

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So who was the guy in the train car at the end of the episode seen tormenting Gareth's family? It was the same crazy guy that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) freed from a rail car that said, "We're the same, we're the same!"

The part of the "large man," as showrunner Scott M. Gimple called him, was played by Owen Harn, and was indeed the same man who was later devoured by walkers after his group invaded Terminus and was captured and held captive by Gareth's group. (Sorry, diehard comics fans, it's not Negan.)

"He's one of the dudes that took over Termius," executive producer and VFX guru Greg Nicotero tells The Hollywood Reporter. "At the end, when they go back into the train car and you see them, that's the same guy. When they're saying, 'You're either the cattle or the butcher,' Mary says, 'We put the signs up because we did want to save this place and want it to be a sanctuary and then they took it away.' Them being willing to take people in, it was the biggest mistake they made and it turned them. That's a big theme on the show because it shows how you can start out as a good person and with a few flips of the switch, be not such a good person."

Read more 'Walking Dead's' Andrew Lincoln: Rick is a 'Complete Warrior' in Season 5

"He is the guy who has been torturing them in the flashback; they've locked him up and he's been kept in there ever since they took the place," Lincoln says, noting the character "isn't a factor anymore" — at least in the present day.

Gimple tells THR that there's "a lot to the character," including a backstory and that the zombie drama may indeed reveal that the "large man's" group was connected to another band of crazies.

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"Bad people came in and did things to Gareth and his group. Gareth and his group did bad things to people. Does that mean that Rick and his group do bad things to other people?" Gimple pondered. "I don't think Gareth thinks he's the same as the 'large man' or the people that came in. I think he is a lot more pragmatic. [Gareth's mother told Carol] that they came in, laughed, and took the place over within weeks and they did horrible things and left. Gareth is a little amused by Rick saying that he's going to kill him. But other than that, Gareth isn't laughing. He's very serious about this. There is a gravity to the whole thing for Gareth. It's the banality of evil but in some ways, it's another day at the office at Terminus. But they're not sitting there laughing and enjoying it."

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So could the rest of the "large man's" group be the Hunters from the comics? For nonfans, the so-called Hunters first arrive in Issue 61 of Robert Kirkman's comic series and spy on Rick, Abraham and company are traveling to Washington, D.C. The group of survivors-turned-cannibals capture Dale (RIP AMC's Dale) and leave him out in front of Father Gabriel Stokes' church in a bid to attack Rick's group and, well, eat them.  

"The Hunters are very purposeful," Gimple says. "In the comics, they thought they just had to do what they had to do. There was no enjoyment from it. The only person who seemed to enjoy that sort of thing in the comics was The Governor."

So will AMC's The Walking Dead revisit the "large man's" group?

"It's a big world. There are others but you'll have to wait and see," Nicotero says with a smile.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. Check out THR's postmortem with Gimple and Kirkman here; Lincoln's thoughts on the "new Rick" here and details on the premiere's surprise return here.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit