Chaos. That may be the best word to describe what happened on season 10 of The Walking Dead. And we’re just talking about the drama surrounding the actual airing of the episodes. Even though filming on season 10 was completed a few months before everything shut down due to COVID-19, the final episode airing was delayed for six months due to the complicated post-production special effects that could not be done during the lockdown.
And then that final episode was not even the final episode. Due to the fact that season 11 was unable to start airing in October 2020, AMC instead filmed six season 10 bonus episodes that aired at the beginning of 2021 to tide fans over. However, those episodes looked and felt much different due to the strict COVID safety protocols in place at the time that led to much smaller scale installments.
The good news for fans is that season 11 will feel like a throwback. Now with much more experience of filming in a pandemic, showrunner Angela Kang promises that The Walking Dead will be going big in its final season.
“Just in very broad terms, I’ll say that season 11, we get to come back more of our usual scope and scale that people are used to,” Kang tells EW. “So we’ll start seeing more stories again like the first episode — it’s got everybody on earth in the episode. And tons of zombies and lots of action and fun and intrigue, and locations we’ve never seen, and things like that. So just stylistically, there will be a change from these six [episodes] that we just watched back into our normal season.”
As for what we can expect to see in terms of the characters themselves, Kang starts off with the obvious: “We’ll be dealing with the new group that our foursome of Eugene, Ezekiel, Princess, and Yumiko ran across and that starts to open up their world in bigger and unexpected ways. Then of course we’ve got to see that Connie is still alive at the end of episode 16, so we still got that thread out there to deal with. We’ve got some great stories at Alexandria, as they’re dealing with the aftermath of this Whisperer war and things start to amp up even further. Then it all keeps rolling from there.”
But it sounds like one of the show’s OGs is in for something new in season 11, which may or may not involve the mysterious Leah — a story line from the bonus episodes that both Norman Reedus and Kang have teased is not completely closed.
“We’ve got some really intriguing stuff for Daryl,” says Kang. “We’ll be putting him in a very different context than he’s been in before.”
As for how season 10 ended, with Negan returning to Alexandria and flashing that sly smile at Maggie, what can we expect for those two when season 11 returns?
“There’s a big, important story that has to do with Maggie and Negan,” promises Kang. “And I think it should be fascinating. Those two are really, really great across from each other.”
So what did that smile mean anyway? “In the grand tradition of Negan, you never know exactly what’s going on when he’s thinking,” Kang says. “And those two, there’s no love lost between them. I think where Negan’s at is that, in some ways when Carol walks him out there to Hansel and Gretel him in the woods, she’s just like, ‘Here you are, you’re on your own now.’ And I really think that Negan was kind of going to accept that. He was like, ‘Okay, I guess this is my fate. It’s never going to work out.’ And by going on this emotional journey of remembering his wife and just who he was and who he had hoped to be at one point…. I mean, this guy was never an angel, but at the same time, he didn’t start off as pure evil or anything, he just had to go his own way.”
Kang says that the memory of Lucille (the wife, not the bat) changed something in the former Savior: “He got to the point where he remembered that she wanted him to fight, and she understood the importance of being with other people. That’s one of the things that she says to him: ‘We can’t make it on our own. It’s never going to happen.’ And Negan, he’s really thinking about the legacy of his wife and what she hoped for the two of them and what she hoped for him and has decided, ‘You know what? I’ve earned my place here and I’m going to prove that I have a place here. And if that means I’ve got to face Maggie, even though that’s something that is uncomfortable for me to face, and I don’t want to, and it scares me in some ways, that’s what I have to do.'”
And now we know we’ll see him do it in season 11 in a scope and scale befitting of the final season of the biggest drama in cable television history.