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Warning: There are spoilers ahead for "The Walking Dead" season 11, episode six, "On the Inside."
Lauren Ridloff and Kevin Carroll break down the show's scary episode with Insider.
Ridloff made a few suggestions. Both share their thoughts on the final season and tease what's next.
Connie is finally back!
After nearly a year since "The Walking Dead" revealed that Connie (Lauren Ridloff) survived a cave-in and was found by Virgil (Kevin Caroll), Sunday's episode finally reunited Connie with her sister Kelly (Angel Theory) and the group.
If the sister's onscreen reunion hit you in the feels, part of the reason may be because the two didn't have to do much acting. Connie and Kelly's fictional on-screen reunion on Sunday's episode was also the first time Ridloff and Angel Theory saw each other in person since before the pandemic began.
"When we finally shot that scene, what you actually see on screen is real," Ridloff told Insider of seeing Angel Theory for the first time. "Those were real tears."
"It was that sense of relief that we're both back together," Ridloff said. "We survived the pandemic and now here we are. We're still surviving in this apocalypse. I think it was really a nice parallel."
Sunday's long-awaited reunion wasn't without its struggles.
Connie and Virgil lived out their own personal hell in a mini-horror movie of their own after entering a house inhabited by survivors who were so far gone that they were reduced, more or less, to feral animals.
Ridloff and Carroll both spoke with Insider about the final season, that Michonne secret Virgil is harboring, Ridloff's input to make some claustrophobic scenes even more haunting, and what we can expect from the two for the rest of the season now that Connie has been found. (We're hoping our girl gets to finally rest and catch some z's. Though Ridloff teases any sleep may not be so restful for Connie).
Ridloff thought she was getting killed off 'TWD' when she found out it was the final season. Carroll's still processing it.
Insider: This is an incredible episode of "The Walking Dead." I hope you're both so proud of it. Before we chat Sunday's episode, I want to ask you both something I've been asking the cast. Where were you both when you heard season 11 would be the final season of "TWD" and what were your reactions?
Kevin Carroll: I was at home visiting family when I heard and I'm still processing it. I'm always hopeful for the future. I'm sort of processing the news because I have such a great time working with the family down there and I hate to see that happen [the show end], but I'm excited for what what's next in the universe.
Lauren Ridloff: I actually was at my beach house when I got the call from [showrunner] Angela [Kang] and from ["TWD" universe chief] Scott Gimple. This was done through Zoom so we're all sitting there having small talk, whereas inside I was sweating, I was dying. I was like, wait, wait, wait. So are they calling me to tell me, you know, this might be the end of Connie?
I didn't know what was happening. Finally, after the small talk, I was like, "OK, everybody. So what is this meeting about?" So they were [calling] just to let me know that it was going to be the final season.
And I have to say, I actually, honestly, had mixed feelings. I'm so thrilled to be part of a beautiful story. I think it's a big part of pop culture and you see so many references to "The Walking Dead" and it really truly has been an influence globally and I'm proud of that and I'm grateful that this show happened. But, of course, I'm sad about the fact that it's ending. Who knows what's going to happen? So, mixed feelings.
Yeah. Lauren, you went off during season 10 to make a Marvel movie, "Eternals," so I'm sure that was a bit of a surprise. What was it like to come back after that experience?
Ridloff: When I wrapped the Marvel movie was about when COVID actually hit and everybody went into lockdown. So I couldn't come back to "The Walking Dead" until just recently. For this specific episode, it was a big deal for me. First of all, I was so inspired that I was going to be able to come into "The Walking Dead" world again, specifically, focusing on Connie's story and working with Kevin Carroll and [episode director] Greg [Nicotero], I couldn't have asked for anything better. I just think it was the best way to come back.
Ridloff's heart was 'racing' when she read the script for Sunday's episode. Carroll was 'surprised' when he first read it.
[Showrunner] Angela Kang had told me a while back that they had plans for a big episode for your return and Lauren, she wasn't kidding. This is the scariest, the creepiest episode of "The Walking Dead" to date. It's like a mini horror movie. What were both of your reactions when you read the script because this is such a different episode than what we're used to seeing?
Carroll: One of the most amazing things about "The Walking Dead" universe is that the structure of the show is able to hold many different genres.
For this to be the first time to take on a horror genre, I was surprised when I saw it. I didn't really know how it would play in the world, but I thought that they had tried so many different things before, why not go in this direction and see what happens? I really felt like it was an experiment in a way, but when I found out I was doing it with Lauren and Greg, that excited me. The whole team embraced this notion with excitement... and everybody absolutely focused and gave Lauren and I a lot of support doing it.
Ridloff: I ended up getting a text from Greg about a week before I got the script. Greg was like, "I'm so excited about working with you. I can't wait. There's a lot of good stuff. It's going to be a scary episode. It's going to be a different vibe from the other episodes." I was like, "Really?" He's like, "Yeah, you're going to be working with the ferals." I was like, "Wait. Who are the ferals? What is a feral?" Like, I knew.
When I finally got the scripts, I was reading through it and my heart just started racing. It really was scary just to read it and I could see it so clearly in my head. Kevin Deiboldt, who wrote that episode, did an amazing job with the scripts.
Just reading through it was so exciting... This really is a good old-fashioned horror film.
When Connie's separated from Virgil, Ridloff made a suggestion that made her isolated scenes feel even more claustrophobic and scary
On Sunday's episode, I love how you two get split up and we see the episode partially through Connie's point of view. The sound cuts out and we feel like we're right there with her. This isn't the first time the show has done that. Anytime that "The Walking Dead" is seen through Connie's perspective, it feels so well done. Lauren, do you sit with the writers at all and weigh in on how those scenes from Connie's POV are told? Are you having conversations with Angela or the crew to make sure that they're depicting Connie in an accurate and genuine way?
Ridloff: "The Walking Dead" hired an ASL consultant who works with Angela and also the team just to keep tabs on how you would represent Connie in the right light as a deaf person. She did a great job with that.
Before we actually started shooting, I had a conversation with Greg about certain elements that I noticed within the scripts, more about hearing-centric things as opposed to being deaf-centric. For example, in the script, Connie walks down the hall and she just walks through the center of the hall. I'm like, "There's no way that a deaf person would ever do that in that situation because when you're walking down the hall, she has no idea what's happening behind her."
Ridloff: The world behind her is gone. So if you want to survive, that's not the way that you would actually do it. So I would push myself up against the wall. Greg really incorporated that within his directing decisions, just to make sure that Connie was sliding against the wall, as opposed to being in the center of the hall, feeling the vibrations.
They definitely checked in with me repeatedly just to make sure that I could actually feel the vibrations of the Ferals approaching, running down the hall, which was really quite creepy and scary. Greg definitely worked very hard to make sure that it was a collaborative process to make sure that it was an authentic representation as [much as] possible. And I think that's what made it even more scary.
Ridloff made a small request to make Connie and Kelly's reunion scene more authentically emotional
Connie is finally reunited with Kelly at the episode's end. I was so nervous that Kelly or Connie was going to die when they saw each other, because we don't get a lot of happy endings on this show. Take me through filming that reunion scene. Were tears shed? And how happy is Connie that she can finally get some sleep now that she's reunited with her group?
Ridloff: I asked Greg before we actually started shooting if we could set up some kind of actual physical separation because I didn't want to see Angel until the day that we actually shot that scene. I wanted that scene to be the first time that I actually physically saw her, that we saw each other, because in real life, I hadn't seen Angel since before the pandemic. It was a long time and I missed that girl.
Greg liked that idea. He was like, "Yes, most definitely. Let's just make that happen." They made sure our [COVID-19] testing times didn't [overlap so] we wouldn't cross paths. Our fittings were separated. Oftentimes, we would see each other on set. They also established a separate encampment for the cast. We were separate until we actually got to shoot that scene.
Carroll doesn't know how much Virgil may have spilled to Connie about Michonne's journey to find Rick
Kevin, your character, Virgil, isn't aware that he's holding onto one of the biggest "Walking Dead" secrets right now. He knows that Michonne went off on a mission to find Rick, or at least he knows that she went searching for the owner of some cowboy boots.
I freeze-framed Sunday's episode to read Connie's notebook when Kelly finds it. It seems like you were both discussing Michonne. How much did Virgil tell Connie about what Michonne is up to and does Connie know that Michonne is maybe searching for Rick?
Carroll: [Laughing] I don't know. I think that Virgil and Connie have been busy trying to survive [laughing], you know? I don't think Virgil would have gone into anything other than what was necessary to move Connie forward.
Something strange happened at the encampment as we were sort of working on our survival relationship. I think everything kicked into high gear to move, get out, and be safe and it tapped into Virgil's need to be a protector and to sort of pay back the universe for some of the things that he did that hurt his family. Virgil will forever have a part of him that is the ultimate protector and I think Connie was the second opportunity for him to get that right. Everything that he shared with Connie was sort of to move along in the direction of survival and to help her be comfortable in trusting him, which I think he really wanted and needed to earn from Connie under duress.
Connie refused to let Virgil sacrifice himself for her because she wasn't 'going to have any of that bullshit'
There's an emotional moment between the two of you towards the episode's end where Virgil considers sacrificing himself so Connie can escape. Can you both discuss the decision to leave the house together, even when Virgil's injured?
Kevin, why is Virgil so determined to sacrifice himself? I think you hit on this a little. Is he feeling guilty for what he put Michonne through? And Lauren, why is it so important for Connie to leave together with Virgil - a man she barely knows, barely trusts. Girl, you could've ran and used him as bait. I think that says a lot about Connie's character.
Ridloff: I think what was interesting about that scene was that I wasn't supposed to believe that Connie fully understood everything that Virgil was saying, but I think she could actually read what his facial expressions and what his body language was saying.
The fact that he was willing to make himself weaponless just to sacrifice himself - she saw that surrender. I think Connie is a believer in family and [the mentality of], "You can do it. You can survive." She wasn't going to have any of that bullshit. She's not gonna let him kill himself. We are going to leave together. We're going to get out of this together.
Carroll: I think there was something that may have started when Virgil found Connie [on season 10, episode 16]. We didn't explore that in huge detail, but the fact that they ended up together, we have to assume that there was some sort of exchange of energy that happened when Virgil found [Connie].
[When] you're talking about her running, that may have been after the initial connection had been made... We had to start to build from there. The next big event was when the camp got raided. At that point, which I think is brilliant that Kevin [Deiboldt] did, that pushed us in a direction of survival. There's a thing that's not tangible for us, but it's here, somewhere. That element of not knowing sent us on this journey of being stronger together than apart, because we're fighting that which we cannot see nor understand.
Carroll can't believe he survived Sunday's episode. Ridloff teases we'll see 'a changed Connie' moving forward after experiencing 2 traumatic events
What can you tease about what to expect with your characters moving forward into the rest of the final season? Kevin, I can't believe Virgil made it through this episode alive. I think you're alive at the end of the episode. You're barely hanging on there. Maybe?
Carroll: You can't believe it? I can't believe it! Listen, I was glad that Virgil showed up again, much less made it through this episode.
Virgil's survival speaks to the strength of Connie, really. That is one of the beautiful elements of the storytelling that Kevin wrote - the strength in women, Connie's particular condition, everything that she's been through. They came upon each other and went through a relationship, basically of survival, and Connie would not, did not, and could not let him die. Lauren herself, and Connie, just led this episode so beautifully, at least my part of it. I was grateful for that and I'm glad to be hanging on.
We need to get you to a Commonwealth hospital. Lauren, is there anything that you can tease for Connie's journey for the rest of the season?
Ridloff: I think that one important thing for the fans to remember is that Connie just survived two horrific events,- the cave itself and, also, the ferals. So, I think that it's safe to say that the fans can expect a changed Connie.
You can follow our "TWD" coverage here throughout the season. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Read the original article on Insider