Walking Dead’ EP Angela Kang On Tonight’s 1st Of The Final Episodes Debut, Potential Return Of Rick Grimes & Michonne, Coming To Grips With The Conclusion – Deadline


SPOILER ALERT:  This post contains details of tonight’s The Walking Dead 11C midseason debut, the first of the final eight episodes of the series.

“Okay, this ends now,” exclaims murderous Commonwealth deputy governor Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) in the first of the final eight episodes of The Walking Dead that debuted tonight on AMC. Of course, this being the zombie apocalypse series careening towards its November 20 series finale and a trio of spinoffs to come, it isn’t really over. At least not when Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) suddenly has a knife to Hornsby’s neck and ambushes the ambush.

Kicking off with new opening credits and cranking up the gore and betrayal volume, the Greg Nicotero directed, and Julia Ruchman penned “Lockdown” picked up not long after the events of April 10’s Acts of God episode. As Hornsby seeks to unleash destruction of the Survivors’ community, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) sneaks inside the Commonwealth to try to reach General Mercer and stave off a massacre. As Daryl and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) lament past losses of loved ones, a walker swarm is heading towards the Commonwealth, putting the well-armed community’s soldiers to the test. With dissent brewing within the Commonwealth due to articles detailing the crimes of the son of the Governor Pamela Milton (Laila Robbins), Carol (Melissa McBride) offers the politician a deal to save her offspring’s skin and put the bullseye on Hornsby.

Pulling from the final editions of the Robert Kirkman comics on which the show is based, the real revelation of tonight’s TWD is the clip-heavy synopsis of the series’ origins. With unceremonious commentary from the youth POV of Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) and scenes of her long-missing father Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and more, the opening monologue hammers home a sense of back to the future – a fact exemplified all the more by the Daryl, Maggie and Negan, and Rick Grimes and Michonne (Danai Gurira) spinoffs already in the works.

With all those elements in play, long-time TWD showrunner Angela Kang sat down with me to discuss tonight’s Lockdown and the road to the series finale. The executive producer also delved into that flashback opening monologue, are Rick and Danai coming back before the series ends, meeting Simu Liu, and where she is at as it all is about to be over.

DEADLINE: That opening with Cailey telling the tale of the Walking Dead was quite beautiful, especially for a show that is often blood-soaked and mournful. It is a unique perspective of a child who has known nothing but this world of destruction and death, very much sets a tone. Why was that the opening you wanted for the first of your final episodes

Angela Kang


KANG: I’m glad you brought this up, because I think this is one of the things that we really wound up loving a lot for this last block. We were looking to, in these final episodes, just crank up the emotional content/ What’s interesting about the Commonwealth to me, besides just kind of their particular rules of their community, is that there is this tie between past and present and future, because the Commonwealth is based on who you were in the past determines who you are now.

DEADLINE: So, what does this opening monologue tell us about the future, by looking at the past?

KANG: Our characters are reckoning with how much have we changed over time, and who do we still want to be going forward? So, it felt like it lent itself well to thinking about what the past has meant and what it is and how does that defines us going forward. We really love the idea of marrying that with a perspective that you might not expect, that sort of gives homage to the comics without being exactly of it.

DEADLINE: Was it your idea?

KANG: (LAUGHS) No, the pitch of doing montages came from Scott Gimple (EP and ex-TWD showrunner) as we were talking about what are some things that we can do?

He just had this great idea, and I loved it, and the writers loved it, and so we ran with it Truthfully, it was emotional for us to even go through all this footage and to pull together what these are and figure out what the voiceover is to tell kind of like one story. I hope the fans will embrace it, too, you know, as they’re all thinking about the legacy of this show.

DEADLINE: Lance has that “this ends now” line right towards the end of Lockdown, but then Norman’s character has a knife at his neck, flipping the script. It’s an age-old TWD move, but you guys don’t really tip your hand too much about where this is going, do you in the final block opener, do you?

KANG: No, not quite. I think in our storytelling for this, that the story’s going to unfold and unroll, and you know, there’s going to be some twists and turns.  What I hope the audience gets from this is even if they think they know exactly where they think the story’s going, maybe it takes some turns that they’re not expecting.

I hope that it’s still satisfying and surprising emotionally, but we don’t want people to know exactly what we’re planning this early in the eight, because all eight episodes still have to matter. I just hope people will watch it, and I hope that they’ll finish out these final eight with us. You know, I think everybody who worked on the show worked really, really hard. It wasn’t a singular season working during the pandemic. I’m proud of what we pulled off, and I think just there are so many great performances this season, that I don’t want people to miss out.

DEADLINE: So where are you at now? Filming finished a while back, is post-production all done?

KANG: We have finished editing, but we’re still doing lots of post-production. So, it’s really interesting because we’re far past what production was, but still actively in the process of just kind of honing it all for the viewers to have their finale.

DEADLINE: What specifically still needs to be done?

KANG: You know, what the final visuals and sound and everything is. Which means I find myself in this perspective where I’m in between being done and not done. What’s been cool, though, is as time passes and you kind of end up looking at some of this stuff with fresh eyes as you go through it, it’s just…

I’s a very emotional experience, and there are high expectations, obviously, all around. We want the fans to enjoy this final ride on the mother ship show, but you know, we can only just focus on doing our best work to try to put it all together.

DEADLINE: How do you mean?

KANG: Because, you know, at the end of the day, it’s a TV show, and you have deadlines. You’ve got to kind of like get it all done in time. So, there’s a part of me that’s just still in the day-to-day of that work, but you know, I think the pressure has been high for a couple of years now on this, and I hope it pays off by the time the 177th episode and finale airs in November.

DEADLINE: A finale that you came up with the story for, BTW. Now, certainly there was some payoff this past week with Norman getting his own Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You were there, what was that like, and what was that like for the show?  

KANG: I’m not so cynical that I think that it’s uncool to get a star. I still remember being a kid coming up to LA for the first time and walking down that boulevard and looking at these names of stars that meant so much to me as just a fan. So, I was really excited for him. I think he was excited and should be. It was really nice to see Greg’s speech and John Bernthal’s speech, and Norman was very heartfelt in the things that he said. I think he got an amazing location next to George Romero.

DEADLINE: Fitting and nice…

KANG: Exactly. You know, I told him, I’ve been to Hollywood Toys & Costumes more than anything else on this boulevard, and this is such a cool spot to be. So, you know, I thought it was really lovely and emotional, and it was great to see his family come around him. So, I give huge congratulations to Norman because I just think it’s super cool to get your star on the boulevard.

DEADLINE: In that, with Norman having his spinoff, Jeffery Dean and Lauren having theirs, and Andrew and Danai coming back for a limited series, are there people going to be coming back in the final eight episodes to say goodbye, so to speak?

KANG: I know you have to ask that. I appreciate the question, but there are some things that are just too spoiler-y, so I can’t get into it.

DEADLINE: What about for you personally? You may not be the showrunner of the Daryl spinoff, but there is still more TWD in your future.

KANG: It’s going to be fun. I’m a producer on the Daryl show and I just came off a meeting for that.

DEADLINE: And how is it going?

KANG (LAUGHS) It’s coming along. Norman’s getting really excited. It’s all rolling, and so I’m really happy to have continued involvement in that while I’m working on my other projects.

DEADLINE: In this project of TWD, what does it feel like for you in terms of the larger cultural implications. I know that a lot of people in the Asian-American and Pacific-American community who see you as a huge trailblazer, in fact a lot of people do, period.  

KANG: Oh, thank you. You know, it’s very gratifying to hear, and when I’m fortunate enough to get to meet people in the community that I don’t know, sometimes they kind of express those things to me. It means so much.

Like writers who are coming up, and that means a lot to me, because I’ve talked pretty openly about the fact that when I was growing up, I never aspired to this job because I just didn’t think it was a job that was open to me. That’s not some exaggeration for drama. It really and truly is like, oh, these aren’t jobs that people like me do. That’s what I thought as a kid.

I didn’t think that I would get to run my own show, and so, it’s inspiring for me when I see other people who have climbed that ladder and somehow made it to this position. What I want to see is just more and more voices that aren’t being heard kind of out there, because I think that it doesn’t take away from anybody’s story. It only just…it adds to the richness of the stories that are out there for everybody.

Let me tell you, a great moment for me at Comic-Con was meeting Simu Liu. I was like, you have…you know, it’s just I admire you so much, like, what you’ve done in the Shang-Chi movie. I told him, I admired how he is out there advocating for the community, and I’ve just been such a fan.

DEADLINE: What was Simu’s reaction?

KANG: Oh, he said back something like you’ve broken a glass ceiling and thank you for trailblazing it, and I was like, oh, I don’t think of myself that way. But it was so kind of him to say to me.

It’s great to feel that there’s more of us, but there’s still not enough. I think that I feel very fortunate that I got to work on a show where the values of the show are that we try to show people from all walks of life. We try to show different people meeting and connecting, because the world is so broken, that the only way forward is to connect, and that’s been a great privilege.

DEADLINE: In an offshoot of that, what is it like having this all end? Or is it really ever ending?

KANG: You know Dominic, it’s a bit like sending a kid to college. It’s so hard to even process, because I think for me and for many people who went through either all or most of this ride, it’s just like you went through a whole life stage.

I got pregnant while I was working on the show, and now my kid is 10 years old. I’ve seen other people’s kids go from little, tiny tikes to high schoolers or people graduating and going off, people falling in love on the show and getting married, and it’s all of that.

I know it’s so rare in the industry we work in to get to have an experience like that, where the people that you’re working with become kind of a found family where we celebrate these things together, where we grieve each other’s losses.

So, it’s definitely…it’s surreal, and I think I’ve had, like, a series of milestones along the way where I get to grieve one part of it, but because it’s still not completely done, I feel like there’s still one part of my heart that’s, like, in denial. It’s definitely quite the experience, and I’ll never forget these years that I’ve worked on the show, and I’ve made so many lifelong friendships here, and that’s the thing that I hold onto it.

Even as this ends, it’s something that lives on in our hearts. I hope it also lives on in the hearts of fans who really went through that same sort of life stage with us. So, I feel very grateful, and it’s been really special, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s definitely strange and surreal right now too.


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