Glen Mazzara Talks New Characters, Gender Roles, And Death In The Walking Dead

By Brent McKnight | 8 years ago

As season three of AMC’s The Walking Dead approaches, many questions pop up. Never shy about talking shop, showrunner Glen Mazzara teased the show’s new characters, the prison, antiquated gender roles, faithfulness to the source material, and, perhaps most importantly of all, primary character deaths. And he definitely said deaths, plural, so we have that to look forward to.

There are some potential spoilers here if you haven’t read the comics.

“I just wanted to feel that the whole world had gone to hell and our characters were trapped in it,” he told the Huffington Post. His plan seems to be to back Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and company into a corner, leaving them no choice but to fight their way out. That sounds like an excellent strategy. They don’t plan to pull any punches when it comes to the upcoming story arc, one that finds the survivors living in a prison.

One of my worries, as a fan of Robert Kirkman’s comics, has always been that the show will rush through much of the prison story to get to one of season three’s big additions, the Governor (David Morrissey). While that is one of the most intense storylines in the series, there is a ton of interesting other stuff going on behind those secure walls, and it would be a shame to shortchange that. Mazzara addresses this:

We’re…in no rush to burn through that prison fight in a couple of episodes. This is something that we’ve been working toward and I’m not eager to just kind of burn things through. By the time the entire prison arc is done, I think people will be really satisfied in the way that we told that story.

Hopefully that means that the story builds up towards the encounter with the Governor, and his survivalist enclave, Woodbury.

He also discusses the addition of Michonne (Danai Gurira) to the cast. Calling her a warrior, a soldier, and a badass, “[s]he becomes a very, very essential figure.” And not just to this particular segment of the story. Moving forward, Michonne develops into a key character, and, as Mazzara says, is often the heart and moral compass of the story.

One common complaint that surfaces repeatedly in regards to The Walking Dead is that the female characters often fall into hackneyed stereotypes. Kirkman’s comics are full of strong women who are every bit as tough as the men, but thus far the show hasn’t capitalized on that. Season two made some strides, developing Andrea (Lauri Holden) and moving her towards the no-nonsense sniper that she ultimately becomes. And Michonne’s presence will certainly go a long way into balancing the gender roles.

“Here was a goal of mine this year,” Mazzara said, “to really portray the women in a more realistic light that is very affective, as more well-rounded.” He acknowledges that relying on old roles and falling into previous patterns of behavior would be a hindrance after the zombie apocalypse. New challenges mean that you have to abandon prior ideas and stations. “We really put a lot of effort into making sure our female characters did not play as victims or any weaker stereotypes. That was very, very important to us.”

One thing that Kirkman never does in the comics is wuss out when it comes to killing off beloved characters. (If you’ve read recent issues, you know what I’m talking about.) Here’s what Mazzara had to say on the subject:

We talk about everyone’s demise to the chagrin of all of the actors. All I can promise is there will be major character deaths throughout Season 3, but I can’t possibly say who or where, but I guarantee all of them will be surprising.

That is the single most promising thing I’ve read so in relation to season three of The Walking Dead. The surprise part of this equation will be fun to watch unfold. Dale’s death in season two was a bit out of left field (he figured prominently in the next few chapters of the comics), so we know that the show is willing to go off book when the need arises. But again, the plurality of deaths gets a big ol’ thumbs up. We’ll just have to wait and see if they pull anything truly crazy out of their asses. Will any of them truly shock us?

The Walking Dead returns Sunday, October 14th.

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