The Season 11 premiere of “The Walking Dead” — the very last season premiere this show will have — is now here on AMC+ and on cable. And who better to talk it over with than Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride — aka Carol and Daryl — who are easily the most senior ranking members of the cast with everybody else from season 1 either dead or, in the case of Morgan, on a different “Walking Dead” show now.
“It feels weird,” McBride told me as we discussed the end of the series. “I’m not really thinking about it. I don’t think about it being the end or the final season, I think just because of where I am. I know everybody is, but I’m just focused on work. And it seems so far off. I know it’s going to come out as quick. But it just seems, you know, we have many more episodes to go and I kind of don’t think about it.”
It helps, of course, that for McBride and Reedus, their journey through the “Walking Dead” universe won’t be ending when this show does — they’ll get to keep going in a new spinoff. All we know about it so far is that it will center on those two. While it’s likely that they aren’t the only ones from the main series who will pop up in it, it’s tough to guess when we’ve got the entire eleventh season still in front of it.
But whatever it is, it will be different in meaningful ways than the main series has been — at least that’s what Reedus told me.
“When we do come back for more, I think it’s gonna be a very different look, a very different show, a very different feel,” Reedus said, before talking about the end of this show that he’s been on for over a decade.
“It’s bittersweet. We’ve all put so much work into this. It’s been such a big part of our lives for so long. You know it’s going to end one day, but I think the news that it was ending at all sort of shook us, to be honest. But you know, it’s, I don’t know, it’s bittersweet. It’s kind of surreal. It doesn’t feel like it’s really happening, although I know it’s happening. And it’s happening right now. It’s a weird feeling.”
McBride expects she won’t notice the end of “The Walking Dead” until it’s in her face.
“One of these days I’m gonna go, ‘Oh my god, there’s two episodes left. Oh, my God, we’re having a big wrap party,'” McBride joked.
“You put so much work into it, it’s hard to let go of it. You want to see it to the end, you kind of wanna bookend it. Especially, I think, for us because we started it. So, you know, to just fizzle away would be sad to us,” Reedus added, before driving home just how ingrained in their lives this show has been.
“If it was a movie, you go for three months, you go somewhere, you play a part, you go home, there’s an end date. But a decade of playing a character, you just want to see where it goes. You’re kind of curious yourself, you’re so involved in it that you want to take it in different directions. You want to see that character go because they’re just so close to you.”
Now, as we get into the finale season of “The Walking Dead,” things are not awesome between Carol and Daryl. Since these two are getting their own spinoff, it’s logical to assume they’ll have things patched up by the end of this 24-episode season. But for now, it’s not great.
The two had a big blow-up at the end of last season in the wake of the victory over the Whisperers — Daryl didn’t love all of Carol’s secret scheming with Negan. They certainly aren’t enemies or anything, but their relationship is as icy as maybe it’s ever been.
“Part of the story of this final season, or the beginning of, well, 11A, is that residual friction. There’s just such a great deal to be done in the communities, and we’re just kind of out doing our thing and not really having to address what happened,” McBride said, chuckling. “We’re just doing our thing because it’s what we do, and we don’t want to talk about it right now.”
Then Reedus teased us a little bit.
“There was that one scene where Melissa — well, Carol — puts on brass knuckles and just beats the crap out of Daryl in the courtyard. It was one of my favorite scenes to film,” he joked. (Don’t get excited — that scene didn’t actually happen.)
While “Walking Dead” fans are no doubt worried about their relationship, McBride seems pretty confident in it.
“These two are just so loyal to one another that anything could happen. They don’t have to say everything to one another. There’s just a great unspoken understanding between the two of them and a loyalty that doesn’t have to be explained or justified,” McBride said.
“It’s just cool. And it’s what I love about them. And I hope it always stays that way.”