Spoiler alert: This interview contains storyline and character spoilers for The Walking Dead.
Most Sundays throughout the fifth season of The Walking Dead could accurately be described as ladies’ nights, as the women of TWD have been consistently responsible for keeping Rick Grimes’s group moving forward… even when certain members couldn’t (RIP Beth, Tyreese, Bob, and Noah).
Sonequa Martin-Green’s Sasha has been on the receiving end of two of those losses — big brother Tyreese and lover Bob — and she’s dealing with it, if not in a healthy way, as the actress says, in a fierce way, for sure.
Martin-Green, whose 2015 has already included the birth of her first child, son Kenric, in January, and her 30th birthday earlier this month, talks to Yahoo TV about how Sasha is “addicted” to killing walkers right now, both loving and rejecting Tyreese’s legacy, why Sasha has become a loner inside the group, and whether the “jam-packed” Season 5 finale might force her to reconnect with the Grimes gang.
Fans have various theories about what exactly is going on with Sasha, how she’s dealing with her grief. What’s your take?
I believe, basically, the worst thing that could’ve happened has happened, losing Bob and Tyreese… it’s her worst nightmare come to pass. The grief is something that she’s processing through violence. In her mind, the walkers are the cause of everything. They’re the cause of all the pain that’s been inflicted on her. They are the problem, and they just have to be dealt with, they have to be eradicated. We see her say, in “Try,” it’s time to take it out on the ones that are actually inflicting the pain. It’s the only way that she can move forward. It’s the only revenge that she can have, you know? There’s no possibility of revenge anywhere else, so it’s what’s getting her through, moment to moment.
Do you think she has a death wish? Even though she’s proven she is capable of taking care of herself, she’s also being pretty reckless.
She’s always been so pragmatic, and now, the only thing that she can attach to is the present moment. She can’t think about the past, because the past is where her brother lives. All in memories, and life before, and the entire apocalypse where they stuck together… that’s what’s in her past, and she can’t bear to be there. And she can’t bear to think of the future, because she had been hopeful for the future and even excited for the future because of Bob. All she has now is survival. It’s become her only family, it’s become the only thing that gets her through the day, surviving. She’s never been more pragmatic than she is right now. In this present moment, her survival is killing these walkers. I do think it’s damaging. I don’t think it’s from a healthy place, because it’s becoming an addiction. She doesn’t feel right unless she’s killing the walkers. It’d be different if it was more strategized, but it’s already become an addiction, almost to a reckless point. To think that there’s no other activity that I can do in life besides kill walkers — that’s a problem.
Tyreese just couldn’t wrap his head around the things it’s necessary to do to survive in the apocalyptic world. Is there any element of Sasha trying to prove that’s she’s not her brother, that she absolutely can go out and do what she needs to do and live with it?
Absolutely. There’s definitely that yearning to disassociate from his way of life. His death is so tragic, but it creates some contradiction in Sasha. Part of her admires him and admires his latch on humanity. He’s definitely the best, to her, the best man that she had ever met, of course, besides Bob. They were the best men she knew, and these great men are now gone. For Tyreese, she believes that that latch on humanity is what caused his demise. Chad [Coleman] said it perfectly when he was on Talking Dead: “He’s a fatal optimist.” It is exactly what Tyreese is, and she respects that about him, but at the same time she’s very angry with him. So yes, she is very much struggling to distance herself from that and to convince herself and everyone else that that’s not who she is, that’s never been who she is, and that she won’t fall into the same trap.
There’s a part of her that doesn’t believe she can take care of herself, that doesn’t believe she can survive; that’s a deeply rooted fear in her… a voice inside of her that says “No, you can’t. You had it easy, you had family coming into this, so now you’re not going to make it.” I think she’s just fighting against that voice. We see her doing all these reckless things to prove it to herself and to everyone else.
Most members of Rick’s group seem to find comfort in each other as their adopted family. Noah did, for instance. Why isn’t that comforting to Sasha right now?
I feel like connection at this point is a very dangerous thing for her. She sees that as very high-risk, because there’s been a constant cycle of connecting and then being punished for it. In her mind, connecting not just to people, but also to ideals, connecting to hope, connecting to promise… that kind of thing has always backfired. It’s just entirely too dangerous for her right now, because she’s currently in the most pain she’s ever been in because of connection, connecting to people and losing them. It’s way too risky! No, no, no, no more connection! [Laughs.]
What motivates her now? What is keeping her from just having a complete death-wish meltdown and giving up?
There’s a lot of confusion going on right now. She’s in a very, very dark place, but I think that she’s basically sinking in the quicksand, suffocating, and it feels like she’s fighting for breath. The only thing keeping her moving forward is this revenge. It’s this defense mechanism, “Well, I’m going to get you back,” you know? She’s pitted herself against the world. It’s kill or be killed at this point, and so in her mind, “I can either shrivel up and die, or I can kill.” The walkers personify her loss, and doing away with them one by one gives her little moments of peace. The second that bullet goes through one of their heads, it’s a moment of peace, and then it quickly passes, so then she has to quickly kill another one.
Is there anything else that potentially could bring peace to her? Can she look to the future at all?
Not right now, unfortunately. She has a very opaque vision right now of the future. Of course, viewers, looking in, we can see that she does need that human connection. That if someone could get to her, that would be the difference.
Her journey feels very separate, by her choice, from the rest of the group. With the war between the groups that’s breaking out inside Alexandria, and those walkers approaching the walls outside, could the season finale see her reconnect with her friends to take on the inside and outside threats?
It certainly seems like it would be something that would do that. Maybe. We’ll have to see if she checks in or if she stays checked out.
What can you say about this supersized, 90-minute season finale? How does it compare to past seasons’ finales?
Well, it’s totally different from past season finales, just because the world has totally changed. We’ve never been in this environment before, and it’s hard for everyone to get used to, hard to get acclimated to the new surroundings, the clean surroundings, this new life. It’s a very transitional time for everyone, for us telling the story and for viewers watching the story. So many things are going to come to a head in the finale. We’re very excited for the extra time, for the “supersized” finale, as you said — I love that. It’s going to cover so much, so jam-packed, and it’s going to be thrilling.
The Walking Dead Season 5 finale airs Sunday, March 29 at 9 p.m. on AMC.