[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday's midseason finale "Made to Suffer" episode of AMC's The Walking Dead and the Image comics the series is based on.]
Confrontations were the order of business on Sunday's season three midseason finale of AMC's The Walking Dead when Rick, Daryl, Michonne and Oscar crossed into the Governor-controlled paradise of Woodbury.
While the fragment of Rick's group successfully rescues Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) from the community where they'd been physically and mentally tormented by the Governor and Merle (Michael Rooker), it comes at a major expense when Daryl (Norman Reedus) is captured and taken into the arena of torture to go head-to-head with a familiar face: his brother.
Not to be outdone, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) comes face to face with a demon from his past when he sees Shane (Jon Bernthal) -- his former best friend whom he memorably killed at the end of season two -- when on a shooting spree to flee Glenn and Maggie. Still reeling from Lori's death (and the haunting the voices of the group's past from the phone calls plaguing his sanity), the former sheriff re-examines the body of a Woodbury soldier to prove to himself that he's not crazy.
Meanwhile, Michonne (Danai Gurira) has her way with the Governor (David Morrissey) in a fight for the ages when she stabs him in the eye, leading a scene fans of the comic have been waiting for: the Governor sporting his signature eye patch.
Back at the prison, comic book hero Tyreese (The Wire's Chad Coleman) is introduced with his sister, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) -- a new character in the Walking Dead mythos -- and a handful of familiar names to comic fans when Carl (Chandler Riggs) rescues them from a walker attack and locks them up in a cell of their own until Rick returns.
So how can both Dixon brothers escape? What happens to Michonne now that she's got a target on her back after killing the Governor's daughter and taking his eye? And what about Andrea (Laurie Holden) now that she knows Daryl was among those who attacked the place she's now come to call home? How will Tyreese play a role? The Hollywood Reporter turned to executive producers Glen Mazzara and Robert Kirkman -- on whose comic series the AMC zombie drama is based -- to answer the burning questions raised in the heart-racing episode.
The Hollywood Reporter: Will there be a time jump when season three resumes in February?
Robert Kirkman: You mean jump ahead like two months to after Daryl is already dead and have him dealing with the fact that he was killed by Merle in front of all those people, and just kind of see what the aftermath of all that is? Well I don't know, it's possible (laughs).
Mazzara: People will come back and be very satisfied. They're going to get answers to their questions. We've done the time jump and it's a lot to leave people with such a big cliffhanger for the season, so I'll say it'll certainly be worth the wait and people will be right back into things when we come back in February.
THR: How can both Dixon brothers get out of the arena alive?
Kirkman: It certainly seems like an inescapable situation, right? There are people all around them; they're facing each other; the Governor is calling for their death. I'm really happy that we're ending the midseason finale with that. It's going to be very difficult for viewers to stop biting their nails over the course of Christmas and New Year's leading to what's coming back in February but we wanted Daryl and Merle to interact and to see what their relationship is. This is the most intense, interesting way to go about that.
Glen Mazzara: The question is not only can they make it out alive but then where do they go? What happens when Merle and Daryl are reunited and where do they go? How can Merle ever try to fit in at the prison? What is the pressure he would put on Daryl? So there's a lot of interesting story to be told.
THR: We're actually rooting for Merle now that his lie to the Governor about Michonne's death has been exposed.
Kirkman: I call that the Rooker effect. Merle could almost do absolutely anything in this show and we would still be rooting for him just because Rooker is so likable even if he's doing terrible things.
THR: Could Daryl and Merle work together to get out of this and head back to the prison together?
Kirkman: That's the real question: These guys are brothers, is that bond stronger than everything that they've lived through since the zombie apocalypse? Since they've been apart? Is that going to come back or are these things going to remain between them? Are they going to face each other? There's certainly a good chance that they'll work together. We've seen that Merle and Daryl are both extremely unpredictable characters.
THR: We don't see Daryl's capture. Considering Rick didn't want him to look for Merle, might Daryl have allowed himself to be taken?
Kirkman: We wanted it to be shocking and jarring and didn't want anyone to be aware of what Daryl's situation was. We wanted it to be more of a shock when he's brought into that arena, so that's why we skipped over that stuff. Logically, Daryl was up against seven or eight people and he wouldn't have been able to hold them off very long. Whether or not we see how that went down remains to be seen.
THR: Andrea sees the Governor's dark side. Why does she continue to stand by him? Does she really think he's trying to desensitize himself?
Mazzara: Andrea is completely confused as to what's happening. All she knows is that Michonne was there and somehow Daryl was there. She doesn't know that Rick was there. She doesn't know Glenn and Maggie were there. She doesn't know anything; she has no information. She's completely baffled and shocked by what's going on. The story in the back half of the season is that she needs to find out what's going on, realize that she is the sole point of contact between these warring factions, and what is she going to do about it. It's a very interesting position to put our lead actress in.
THR: Is Andrea safe at Woodbury or could the Governor use her as bait to get to Michonne?
Mazzara: That's a great question. His agenda right now is to destroy the prison, destroy Rick and destroy Michonne. Using Andrea as bait, as leverage, as a bargaining chip is a perfect strategy and yet he's emotionally connected to her as well. So it'll be surprising to see how it all unfolds. She certainly is in a dangerous situation and she doesn't even fully realize the danger yet. We've seen that he's willing to do anything.
THR: Why does Andrea not say anything when she sees Daryl in the ring?
Kirkman: That's a moment of shock and we're seeing her dealing with the knowledge that not only is that Daryl -- and she sees him and she knows he's the guy that she used to live with -- she's also becoming aware of all of that all of that gunfire and the attack that tore this community apart and was extremely shocking for her to see this town that she's grown to love that she feels a part of be under fire. That attack was her people. She's immediately confronted with, "OK, that's Daryl, but the Daryl I knew wasn't running around picturesque towns shooting machine guns. So what the heck has happened to this guy and who is this person now?" It brings with it a lot more questions than it does answers. That was her processing that and figuring out what her move is going to be.
THR: Michonne stabs the Governor in the eye! How soon can we expect to see that iconic eye patch from the comics?
Kirkman: Well he might get a prosthetic eye. He could get a laser thing. My money is on that eye patch coming in, and coming in pretty soon. I'd be on the lookout for that. (Laughs.)
THR: Having seen the Governor's collection of decapitated -- and still alive! -- heads in fish tanks, will Michonne tell Rick and company about how crazy he is?
Kirkman: Definitely. I don't think Michonne is going to be mincing words or hiding any secrets. She definitely would be forthcoming. The real question is, will she get a chance to? As we saw in that final scene, Rick isn't terribly pleased with her. He certainly isn't in a very trusting mood coming out of that attack. Rick blames Michonne for things going so badly during the attack; she abandoned them while they were inside the walls of Woodbury. What her relationship is going to be with Rick and everyone at the prison is a real unknown that we'll be dealing with when we get back.
THR: Considering she claimed the Governor's eye, doesn't that make her a bigger target for him?
Kirkman: He's not going to let that lie. It's definitely something that is going to upset him. Having to wear an eye patch is not something you're going to enjoy. That's certainly something that is going to be hanging over her head, and will be more of an incentive in making things work with Rick. He can offer some kind of protection; or it may be the kind of thing where Rick considers her a liability.
THR: Add to that she kills his zombie daughter Penny.
Kirkman: It's important to note that it was an incredibly physical attack but the psychological effects of that are much more deadly. It's going to do much more damage on the Governor moving forward. This is really going to affect him a great deal moving forward.
THR: Will Michonne tell Rick about her brutal fight with the Governor? About Andrea?
Mazzara: She doesn't want to give up that information, but how does she keep that a secret? She has choices to make about what she's going to say. If that information comes out, how will that affect the way the people at the prison view her? She withheld information, she was untrustworthy because she had her own agenda to go back and execute the Governor. She presented herself as a friend saying I'll help you free Glenn and Maggie from this hostile territory. But really, she had her own agenda.
THR: When Rick does find out, is he going to be keen to let her into the group?
Mazzara: Anytime Rick opens up and lets somebody in, it causes a problem for him. So why would he possibly want to let this woman with a sword into the group? If he returns to the prison and finds Tyreese there, why would he allow that group to stay? You could make the case that he needs soldiers now in his war against the Governor, but Rick has closed himself off. He has a lot of choices to make and it'll be very surprising to see him make those choices when he's suffering from the trauma of losing his wife. He's at his weakest point and he's in no position to make choices.
THR: How will the Governor combat the so-called "terrorist" attack? What lengths will he go to in order to get to them?
Mazzara: He'll go to any length. This guy is smart, ruthless, a narcissist and power hungry. We established who this character is the first time we met him when he executed a whole group of National Guardsmen when he's lying just to take their guns. He threatens sexual assault with Maggie just to find out where she lives. What's he willing to do when he's bent on revenge? Everything's on the table.
THR: Will Rick head back to the prison immediately or turn around for Woodbury to rescue Daryl?
Mazzara: This group has faced this decision before: They didn't go back to get Andrea [during the attack on Hershel's farm] and yet we've shown that this group is very different. Are they going to go back and get Daryl, one of their own, one that they need? Or are they going to push on like they've done in the past? Certainly Michonne wants to get the hell out of there.
THR: Having seen the numbers and weaponry that exist in Woodbury, how will Rick's group prepare themselves to go up against them a second time?
Mazzara: That's the whole thing: They lost Oscar [who was killed] and Daryl, and recovered Glenn and Maggie. What kind of shape is Glenn in? This attack was done as a surprise. Now that the Governor is on high alert, the entire town feels that they've been attacked. How can Rick's poor little group go back and recover Daryl? It's a hell of a challenge.
THR: Does Michonne realize she's now with Andrea's former group? Why doesn't she tell Andrea who she's with when they finally have their confrontation in the Governor's apartment?
Mazzara: They were just both shocked in that moment. It wasn't about exchanging information. It was at the point where they really could kill each other. They both were finally confronted with truth. Andrea finally sees the Governor's madness, and Michonne finally recognizes how far Andrea has fallen, that this is her life. Everything shatters and explodes into dust for both women. It's a very emotional moment.
THR: During the attack, Rick sees Shane! When did you film that and what was it like having him back on set?
Kirkman: Having him back on set was amazing. A lot of the actors that were still in town, that weren't shooting, came in to visit. It was a massive undertaking to try and keep this under wraps because the minute he stepped off the plane in Georgia he had people just randomly walking up to him in the airport and saying, "Hey what are you doing in Georgia? Are you back on The Walking Dead? Are you coming back for a scene? Are you shooting a flashback? What's going on?" Anytime someone saw him they were already starting to figure out what was going on, and he had to be like, "No, I'm just visiting friends."
THR: What does seeing Shane say about Rick's mental status? He even inspects the body to prove to himself that it wasn't Shane.
Kirkman: Maybe his subconscious just wanted to kill Shane again, but this is really another layer peeling back on his mental state. He's certainly in a bad place. Lori's death has sent him in a downward spiral: he was hearing things, now he's seeing things, and this couldn't happen at a worse time. Whether this continues to escalate -- things are going to get worse and worse and worse -- or if he's going to get this under control just in time to face the Governor, that all remains to be seen.
Mazzara: Yeah, he's crazy (laughs). He's having hallucinations, and that mental state will continue. As he's under more duress, and as the stakes get higher, there are a lot of different things at play. He has Andrea, he has Michonne, he has Tyreese. The group is split apart. Right now the group is in the prison, he's outside Woodbury, Daryl's in Woodbury. The group's never been so splintered and he has to try and pull everyone together, keep them safe and decide whether they're going to fight the Governor, hunker down in the prison or give up the prison. He's got a lot of choices to make, and he's hallucinating. He's not on the road to mental health anytime soon.
THR: You don't waste any time in introducing comic hero Tyreese. Who are the rest of the people in his group?
Kirkman: Sasha is his sister, who is a new character. She's not his sister in the comic book. And then we have Allen, and Donna and Ben, who are all from the comic book series. It's a few cool additions from the comic book coming into the show. Although, Donna didn't last very long.
THR: How will Rick respond to seeing Tyreese and his group at the prison?
Mazzara: You don't know if he ever makes it back to the prison or if he sees Tyreese or what happens; that's a story to be told. Tyreese is a major figure in the show from now on. He's not just introduced as a background character. He'll have an arc.
THR: Can we expect Tyreese to join Rick's ranks and help in the fight against Woodbury?
Mazzara: They're looking for a safe place. Why would they join in this fight? Why would they risk their lives for Rick and the group, and yet, if the Governor's coming you want to have soldiers on your side. It'll be interesting to see. People may try to win over Tyreese's allegiance. Tyreese, we'll find out, has not been on the road as long as Rick has. He has not had to make the devastating choices like Rick has. We'll find out that Tyreese's group was bunkered down for a little longer before they had to move on. So he is not as battle-tested, not as morally ambiguous as Rick. He has a long way to go before he ever is as battle weary as Rick.
THR: Might Carol be among those who try to win over Tyreese's allegiances? In the comics, their relationship is a romantic one.
Mazzara: Yes, it could be her. There's a connection with her, there's a connection with Carl. Tyreese also has the other members of his group who are in play. We'll find out that those people have their own agenda as well. So things are not as simple as they look. Introducing Tyreese complicates Rick's life, but we'll find out that Tyreese has a complicated story as well. This Tyreese story and these new characters, it's a significant part of the entire part of the back half of the season.
THR: How might Carol handle news of Daryl's capture?
Kirkman: Daryl's capture is a huge part of what we're going to be dealing with immediately when we come back. What Rick is going to do to try and remedy that situation, assuming Daryl survives the conflict. That's certainly problem No. 1 on the horizon when we come back: What's going to happen with Daryl and how is Rick going to handle it situation? I'm very sorry that people are going to have to wait a few months but it's going to be worth the wait. I can't wait for people to find out what happens with the rest of season three.
It was announced Sunday night that season three of AMC's The Walking Dead returns Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. Watch a trailer below for what's next, and hit the comments with your thoughts on the cliffhanger and how you think Daryl can get out of Woodbury.