the walking dead recap season 11 episode 23

Walking Dead Showrunner Angela Kang Unpacks This “Punch” With a Twist

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Sunday’s eventful episode of The Walking Dead. If you haven’t watched yet, you might want to do so before reading on.

The term “a doozy” was coined to describe Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead. As Pamela’s soldiers led a swarm towards the Commonwealth, all so she could go through the motions of a lockdown, Aaron, Jerry and Lydia became separated from Elijah, Luke and Jules. Lydia tried so desperately not to let go of her boyfriend as he was swept away by the horde that she ended up being bitten. (Goodbye, arms!) Later, Jerry insisted it would be “as easy as a cobbler” for him to track down their missing party members. (Goodbye, Jerry?)

In other developments, Pamela, beyond distrust of Mercer following Eugene’s “disappearance”, had Max’s brother arrested. At the same time, Daryl, Carol, Judith, Negan, Gabriel, Rosita, Maggie, Princess… Basically, most of our regulars snuck into Commonwealth Station, where the Governor was waiting in ambush. Pamela even picked up a machine gun herself and aimed at Maggie, only for Judith to push her away and – swallow – take the bullet herself!

As the hour drew to a close, walkers – among them mountain climbers – entered the Commonwealth walls. Pamela’s solution? Have the soldiers protect the estates and divert the dead to the lower quarters. (As if we didn’t already know she was a scumbag.) At the same time, Daryl & Co. found themselves almost surrounded by walkers. And Lil’ Ass-Kicker… In her delirium, she seemed to see “Dad.” But had she really done it? To get the answer to that question and more, TVL called showrunner Angela Kang.

the walking dead season 11 episode 23 recapTVLINE | So you have to know that people are going to freak out, right? You’re not shooting Judith Grimes.
Absolutely. This is not a story decision that we took lightly. There have been many conversations about whether we do it, what results from it, how do we present it in as respectful a way as possible…

TVLINE | What’s the point of doing it – to scare us or just make us hate Pamela more?
In the comic there is a story about the things the next generation goes through and sees. What is the world that their parents’ generation wants to leave to them? This is a major theme that we thought about in the endgame. So this story kind of evolved from that. There’s a really big emotional dynamic that comes out of what happens next for Judith and for Daryl. Even Pamela is like, “What did I do?” Because you know, you kind of hope that when horrible things happen to kids that people can step back and look at that, and I think that’s one of the things we’re exploring with her.

the walking dead season 11 episode 23 recapTVLINE | What’s the significance of Judith passing RJ the hat that belonged to Carl and belonged to Rick? Is it his passage to the next generation?
In some ways, she does things beyond her age. All the children of this generation were forced to grow up faster than they should have because the world is so dangerous and in some ways doesn’t care that they are children worth protecting. So for Judith, there’s this unspoken line that’s kind of like, “Now you have to grow a little bit too, RJ, but you’re still a kid, and that hat is going to protect you.” It’s just something that we really wanted to honor as part of that Grimes legacy, that the hat means something when it’s passed from person to person and is kind of protective.

TVLINE | Let’s talk about “Dad”. Do you hope we’ll think that Judith didn’t have a hallucination and that she really saw Rick
From Judith’s perspective, she just passed out. She’s probably hallucinating a bit, or at least very confused and in some sort of dreamlike state. It felt real to us as we wrote it that what she imagines and has been on her mind all this time is a reunion with her parents. She feels safe in someone’s arms for a moment, and she wonders if Dad has come back. But of course it’s Daryl, and the kind of punch for him is important… just the weight on him. [With Rick and Michonne gone, and Lori long gone], Daryl is the remaining parent figure for this child. But we felt like for Judith, too, it’s an indication of the position she’s been in throughout all of this. She misses her family, but she also trusts Daryl enough to feel like he’s like a daddy figure to her.

the walking dead season 11 episode 23 recapTVLINE | Does Lydia really should you get bitten? The child had Alpha as a mother, she spent years eating worms, her first boyfriend was beheaded and she just has a new one. I mean come on.
She’s had a tough run, but she’s trying to find hope in the midst of it. She also connects with Aaron, who lost an arm in this apocalypse. For Lydia, she will have to understand what it means to have this handicap. But she still hopes to be able to find Elijah, even if it is very sad for her at the moment.

TVLINE | That’s assuming the amputation was successful. Lydia looked like she was knocking on death’s door towards the end of the episode.
She’s not off the hook. But at the same time, there is hope that people have survived this before. This is the story of a person ready to do anything to save the person she loves. Because for her, that’s living her life. She would never have done that when she was a Whisperer, because there was this mentality of survival of the fittest. This is where she is truly different from her mother. She doesn’t want to hurt people, she wants to help them, even if it means there are difficult circumstances for her.

the walking dead season 11 episode 23 recapTVLINE | I was a little stunned that Jerry went looking for Elijah, Luke and Jules for Lydia. He has a wife and children.
We felt that Jerry had made his own journey to become a leader in his own way. He was someone who was happy to be number 2, the guy who supported the leader. But what he understood is that for everyone, even for him, you can’t get away with looking out for your own interests. I think Jerry is scared. If you look at Cooper Andrews’ performance, Jerry doesn’t want to come out, but that’s what it’s like to be on a team. Jerry is actually exceptionally brave. If you observe what the Kingdom looks like, the Kingdom takes care of its people. The Kingdom is brave. The Kingdom fights. So I think he feels it’s his duty to go after them. No man or woman left behind.

Your opinion on “Family”? Drop them in a comment below.

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