For the eleventh time, the AMC original apocalyptic drama The Walking Dead has held a panel at Comic-Con. However, due to concerns from the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Comic-Con, aptly titled Comic-Con @ Home, is being held virtually which has enabled a wider audience to tune in and learn more about their favorite shows, movies, and comic book characters. This years’ The Walking Dead panel focused heavily on the tenth season finale episode “A Certain Doom” as its production was unfortunately halted by COVID-19. This tenth season was capable of airing the first fifteen episodes prior to the pandemic affecting production. However, this standalone finale episode will now air solely in the fall of 2020.
Similar to other panels, the AMC The Walking Dead panel was held as part of San Diego’s Comic-Con at Home, in which numerous panels are available for anyone to watch on Comic-Con San Diego‘s website. This particular panel featured Chris Hardwick, the host of AMC’s talk show Talking Dead that follows new episodes of the hit series, as its moderator.
In addition to Hardwick, the panel was joined by The Walking Dead’s chief content officer in Scott M. Gimple (Fillmore!, Chase), executive producer and director of the season ten finale episode Greg Nicotero (Sin City), showrunner Angela Kang (Terriers), and included cast members such as Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen), Lauren Cohan (The Boy, Whiskey Cavalier), Josh McDermitt (Mad Men, Angie Tribeca), Seth Gilliam (The Wire), Khary Payton (Teen Titans Go!), Ross Marquand (Avengers: Infinity War, Robot Chicken), Paola Lázaro (Wu-Tang: An American Saga), Melissa McBride (The Mist), and Norma Reedus (The Boondock Saints). Due to the magnitude of panelists, Hardwick split the hour-long session into two groups with Nicotero, Kang, and Gimple remaining for both groups.
The Walking Dead Comic-Con @ Home panel began with Hardwick introducing the lineup for the session. To begin the hour-long Zoom call, Hardwick announced that season ten finale episode “A Certain Doom” will air on October 4 at 9 PM EST and will be followed by the premiere of the spin-off series The Walking Dead: World Beyond at 10 PM EST and a brand new episode of Hardwick’s talk show on AMC Talking Dead at 11 PM EST. The panel then segued into a five-minute first-look at the season ten finale episode which followed Gilliam’s character Father Gabriel as he is running around during the preparation for the Whisperers War and the impending battle with the Whisperers’ leader Beta, portrayed by Ryan Hurst (Remember the Titans, Sons of Anarchy). Commenting on Beta’s status, the showrunner Kang stated that “[Beta] has to find another voice to tell him what to do” after the former leader Alpha met her demise earlier in this season. In the preview, Beta is surrounded by walkers before the invasion and a roar amongst them rises which Kang describes as the “closest thing to a screaming fan base [for Beta].” Check out the preview trailer for the season ten finale episode below:
Hardwick then introduced the first group of panelists which included Nicotero, Gimple, Kang, Reedus, McBride, Payton, and Marquand before asking some general questions of his own which led to proposing some fan questions towards the panelists. With regards to the fate of Reedus’ character Daryl in the remaining portion of season ten, Reedus commented that his beloved character has been “putting certain members of the group in danger,” but has “promised [Michonne] he would take care of her children” and other commitments that show signs of self-improvement. He further stated that over the course of the long-running series his character has always been placed in a spot where he needs to take action even when he is not always the most willing participant in these conflicts or certain situations.
In response to the discussion on Daryl, Hardwick pivoted to McBride who portrays Carol, a close friend of Daryl which is a duo of some of the only original cast members remaining in the series. Hardwick questioned McBride about the status of her relationship with Daryl to which McBride gave a resounding “meh” sound bite. Kang then interjected with “Daryl and Carol have one of the best relationships on the show and is fun to write for” and continued by commenting “without spoiling it all, they have a long road to travel.”
Payton’s time in the panel’s spotlight came when Hardwick picked his thoughts on his character Ezekiel and whether or not he is running away from problems or seeking out adventure. Payton stated that “There are definitely aspects of his life he wants to leave behind he’s got failed relationships, memories of loved ones that have come and gone, and built a community and seen it all get toppled. I think he’s looking for a fresh start and is a guy who has a clock on him” “In a world where nobody seems to have much time, he feels like he’s got even less with this cancer and he will fit his bucket list in someway somehow.”
One of the biggest surprises of the panel was Kang’s big reveal around the fall premiere of season eleven. Posed by a fan, a question referred to the fate of the fall premiere of the ensuing season to Kang revealed that season eleven will not be airing at its usual time in the fall around October, but rather the “writers’ room for season eleven has been going remotely for several months.” Yet, Kang ultimately revealed that there are “six extra episodes for season ten that will air in early 2021” and will act as an extension from the tenth season finale episode “A Certain Doom.”
Following this surprise announcement, the first-panel group shuffled out and Hardwick welcomed Cohan, Lázaro, McDermitt, Gilliam, and Morgan in addition to the remaining writers and producers. Cohan’s appearance is the first Comic-Con since her departure from the series in 2018. Announced earlier in April 2020, Cohan’s character Maggie returned at the conclusion of the fifteenth episode in season ten. Commenting on her return to the series, Cohan stated “the most important thing is that she is sort of coming back, it’s not just a visit. Her and Carol have been in communication. It’s good she’s coming back.” Further, she affirmed that her return to the show’s filming process “felt like I never really left.”
One of the show fans’ biggest questions is the future dynamic between Maggie and Morgan’s character Negan. Negan, in his first appearance of the show’s season seven premiere, murdered Maggie’s husband Glenn, portrayed by Steven Yeun (Burning). Since then, Maggie and Negan have had a tumultuous relationship with Negan controlling safe zones such as Alexandria, Ezekiel’s kingdom, and her own realm, Hilltop Colony. After her departure from the series, Negan began on a path of self-development after his defeat at the hands of Rick, portrayed by Andrew Lincoln (Love, Actually), and this will be the first interaction between the new and improved Negan and Maggie.
Kang described the dynamic as a complex one due to “Negan killed Maggie’s husband and burnt down her house. It’s not going to be an easy road…but it’s sort of like Maggie is coming in and hasn’t seen any of that [referring to Negan’s self-development since her departure]” to which Morgan replied with quick wit that “he has saved a few of her friends” which was received with some chuckles from the rest of the panelists.
As the show continued, Gilliam’s character Father Gabriel has taken on an expanded role and has recently begun to assume a greater leadership role within the united communities. Gilliam stated that this fact that he “feels great about. The more power the better. I think that Father Gabriel has kind of embraced the inner voice that he feels that communicates with God and that this is his purpose now. He failed in the first go-around…God has given him a second chance at leadership and he will do everything he can do correctly this time.”
Closing out the panel, Gimple answered one of Hardwick’s questions about the possibility of exploring the pre-apocalypse world of The Walking Dead. Gimple commented on bringing back characters or doing spin-offs before the apocalypse “We are looking at things maybe not pre-apocalypse, but maybe in the beginning of the apocalypse” which drew a huge facial reaction from one of the show’s many superfans and the panel’s moderator in Hardwick.
Furthermore, Kang ended the hour-long panel as she described what people should be excited about the S10 finale by stating “it was really fun to see it all come to life and excited for people to see what happens to Beta. What happens to Carol and her revenge arc. Seth has some amazing scenes. The commonwealth group will get to what I think it’s a pretty cool point. Negan has a cool role to play. So, I am really excited to see the whole group do their thing and face what’s in front of them.”
The Walking Dead premiered on AMC in 2009 and is based upon a comic book series under the same name by Robert Kirkman, who helped develop the graphic novels to the small screen. The show has run for a total of ten seasons and has amassed 146 total episodes on top of developing a large fanbase and critical success. Interested fans can check out the complete Comic-Con @ Home panel below: