OBVIOUS SPOILERS HERE IN CASE YOU STILL HAVEN’T SEEN THE LATEST EPISODE
UPDATE on 11/6/12 at 11:59 p.m.: I posted this item 35 hours after the show aired, presuming enough time had passed so I didn’t have to worry about spoiling things for folks. But apparently, that wasn’t enough time for many of you. Down the road, I’ll be more careful with headline wording and such. I didn’t realize how rabid (ahem) you fans are about spoilage! With “Idol,” I was able to talk openly about eliminated contestants the next day. So clearly, with scripted show, the lead time is a bit longer.
Dallas, GA actor IronE Singleton said he enjoyed every single day on the set of “The Walking Dead” until zombies ravaged his T-Dog character Sunday night.
“When I was first cast, I thought I’d do two, maybe three episodes,” Singleton said in a press conference Monday. “It ended up going on into a third season. How magnificent and miraculous is that? I’m so very thankful for that. I was thankful he was able to go heroically. It made feel good and really appreciated.”
Singleton held a big opening night party at his home three weeks ago and was a great host. I had my sneaking suspicion he was not going to make it through the season only because I didn’t see him when I visited the set for episode nine. But I was hoping for the best.
His character T-Dog was popular but never fully fleshed out. We don’t know much of his back story, if at all. We never saw any of his family members. He had a handful of lines per episode. Still, he was a loyal foot soldier for Rick Grimes, who never questioned T-Dog’s loyalty to the group. And Singleton is not complaining.
“I’m totally and completely satisfied with how the show went,” Singleton said. “I think the show is a success because of the brilliant team of individuals with everyone coming together.” As for his own storyline, “I’m just pleased to be part of something so special.”
And since T-Dog had no ostensible back story, Singleton projected his own life in the projects and his own life. (Read my interview with him last month.)
T-Dog played a pivotal role season one when he dropped the handcuff key down a pipe, forcing racist Merle to cut off his hand to get away from the zombies. (Merle returns this season in Woodbury.) In season two, T-Dog sliced up his arm accidentally on the highway and Daryl saved him from what seemed like certain doom. T-Dog killed plenty of zombies to the very end. In his final moments, he helped distract the zombies so Carol could get away (presumably) last night.
Watching the episode while awaiting his time on “Talking Dead,” he said it felt “surreal. It was like, ‘Wow, it’s over!’ Bittersweet. I tried my best to keep all my weeping on the inside.”
We, the press, also spoke with Sarah Wayne Callies, who, as Lori, died during childbirth Sunday night and was shot by her son Carl to keep her from “turning” into a zombie. Callies makes a great interview. She is both thoughtful and perceptive in her comments.
Her character was often mocked, reviled for her whining, her torn feelings about Rick and Shane, her poor decision making and questionable parenting of wandering Carl. Callies said she never reads online comments about her character but others have told her the feedback. She better treasures actual old-fashioned written letters sent to her, 20 to 50 a week, msot telling her how much they like her and her character.
She herself enjoyed the complexities and flaws of Lori compared to Sara Tancredi, the character she played on “Prison Break.” “Sara was kind of an angel,” Callies said. “People loved her. But coming off that show, my concerns was not to get stuck playing our lady of sorrow. I wanted to play a different kind of woman… I’m growing and expanding my range as an artist.” (Speaking of “Prison Break,” she said going in she had no idea “The Walking Dead” would end up in a prison as well. Irony!)
She was happy about the way Lori died because she was able to speak her peace with Carl in her final scene. “This signals a sea change from the first two seasons,” she said. “Carl was practically a prop in the first season. I was always resting my head on his shoulder. He has evolved into a child soldier and all the deeply unsettling power that brings with it. I think in a way Lori’s death signals a change in balance between Carl and Rick. And maybe in a sense that this boy has a flint in his heart in both a good and bad way his dad doesn’t anymore.”
Callies is familiar with the graphic novels and was aware her character died going in. “I assumed going in she had an expiration date,” she said. Frank Darabont, who was the show runner the first season through part of season two, told her, “I don’t need to kill you.” Callies responded, “With all due respect, you do.” Callies said, “He just laughed. He said he never had an actress, a leading lady argue her way off the show.”
But she felt this is the best way to propel the story forward. “In the books, Rick goes nuts because his wife dies. I think that’s pretty cool.”
In other words, she believed in the integrity of the story ahead of her own pocketbook and career. (Then again, being part of a hugely successful show never hurts one’s career!)
She was also happy that they jumped several months forward to Lori’s delivery point season three. “Truncating the journey makes for better storytelling,” she said. Else, the story would have gotten repetitive: how do we protect Lori’s baby?
As for who the child’s daddy is, she said they probably won’t ever know for sure though the actors talked about it on set.
She said Lori, being pregnant, was prepared to die. She knew they had no prenatal care, a lack of proper nutrition, plenty of reasons why she wouldn’t make it – even if the baby did. The questions now are: will Rick accept the child? Will the child have a chance in a zombie apocalypse? And how about Rick’s regrets about never truly telling Lori he was sorry. They did have that moment at the end of episode two where Rick touched her shoulder. And they shared a meaningful look at each other from a distance right before the zombies attacked episode four.
Callies herself just finished up a film she started over the summer, a big-budget disaster film about the aftermath of a tornado. (I guess anyone who saw her doing that film could have figured out that her character on “The Walking Dead” was no longer.) She said jumping into this new role helped her get over the loss of Lori.
Buzzfeed says UGA grad and former Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward got to dress up as a zombie for “The Walking Dead.”
Ratings update: This fourth episode was the lowest-rated one season to date but still a very formidable 9.27 million viewers and a 4.9 18-49 rating (down from 5.4 last week). Locally, the show drew 232,000 viewers, good for 25th overall.
The crew is still shooting the final episodes of “The Walking Dead” in Senoia through the end of the month.