Warning: This interview for the “The Other Side” episode of The Walking Dead contains spoilers.
Rosita and Sasha fought, made up (sorta), bonded (sorta), and declared they had each other’s backs. But now they’re separated once again, this time by Sasha’s attempt to spare her new friend’s life during their suicide mission to kill Negan inside the Saviors’ Sanctuary compound. At the end of “The Other Side” — and with just two episodes remaining in Season 7 — Sasha’s inside the Sanctuary, Rosita’s outside staring at a man who may be friend (Daryl) or foe (Dwight), and neither is sure what the deal is with Eugene, who refused their help to escape and voluntarily returned to his Sanctuary home.
Christian Serratos, who plays Rosita, talked to Yahoo TV about her character’s big Thelma & Louise-ish adventure with Sasha, including what prompted her to go to her romantic rival for help, how she felt about seeing the necklace she made for Abraham on Sasha, why Rosita spilled such personal details to Sasha, and what she thinks about the bow-carrying mystery man who we think may be the key to the “new strategy” she says Rosita will adopt for the rest of the season.
Congratulations. Those were great scenes between you and Sonequa Martin-Green.
Yeah, thanks. I was really excited and nervous about it.
What made you nervous?
Because we were seeing a little bit more of who [Rosita] was. We were getting a little bit of her backstory, which we hadn’t before, so it was something that I wanted to do justice to. I wanted to work hard and make sure I was putting in all the elements that I felt needed to be there, that the fans wanted there.
That scene in the warehouse is my favorite of the episode, and I think it may be the best Rosita scene ever. We really get to see her be vulnerable, which is very rare.
Yeah, and I really respect that about Rosita. No matter what, even when we do see her be vulnerable, that wall … she somehow gets it back up, but I think that’s really cool. She’s got that really tough exterior. I think that’s probably a lot of who she was before the apocalypse as well, and it was just intensified when the world came crumbling down. But it was really cool to be a little more vulnerable.
She’s been so angry and so focused on revenge for most of the season, more than anyone except maybe Daryl. Has that been tough to play, being in that mindset all season?
It has been tough, but it’s also been really fun, and I know that makes me sound a little bit like a sociopath, but I had so much fun with the struggle. This work can be a struggle sometimes. It can be really hard to get to the places that you need to get to to show an honest performance, you know what I mean? It could so often be surface, and that’s what I think all actors try to avoid, any sort of emotion being just surface, because you’re not going to affect another individual that way. It has to be real to you in that moment, which can also be a little destructive. I mean, after that first episode [of Season 7] … all of us gave 150 percent, and it’s hard to turn off. When you go home, you’re still a little bit traumatized. We were all traumatized from that episode. It took a lot longer than just the end of the workday.
There are a few 16-hour days in an episode, and we shoot episodes very quickly, quicker than I think most shows right now. We do our own stunts. We’re running. In Atlanta, it’s, like, 112 degrees, and we’re running on freeways and reversing cars and jumping over fences. We want to do these things. We’re all crazy kids who want to play pretend and do all these fun things, but then you realize after one or two takes how grueling it is. So we’re very grateful for the crew and the production that we have to keep us as safe as they keep us and as healthy as they can, and we’re also very grateful for people like stunt drivers, because there’s some s*** that we have to [sit out].
Did you do any of the great stunt where Rosita hot-wires the car and maneuvers it out of the fenced yard in reverse?
I didn’t do any of the driving. We were in the car. It was a rig. It was dangerous then. But there’s also things that, as crazy as we all are … we all want to shoot the guns and blow up buildings and things like that, but they’re not going to let us hurt ourselves, so they bring in the real professionals when they have to.
What does it take for Rosita to go to the hilltop and ask Sasha for help? That’s really opening herself up given everything that has happened.
Oh, yeah. She doesn’t have to swallow her pride, but she knows that the only person maybe as motivated as she is right now is the person who also lost a love of hers. [Sasha] lost her man. And while, yes, that was the man we saw Rosita with, the bond that she and Abraham had was different, and it was larger for many different reasons. So I think Rosita had confidence that Sasha cared enough about Abraham to want to go with her.
Does she believe she needs Sasha’s help?
I don’t know that that’s playing any part right now. I think we’ve seen how headstrong Rosita can be about a mission. That was how she was introduced to the show, [as part of] a mission to get Eugene to Washington. So I think right now she’s thinking of the mission more than anything, and I think she knows that Sasha could be an asset.
Rosita spots the necklace she made for Abraham, the one Sasha is now wearing. It obviously bothers her. But ultimately does the fact that Sasha is wearing it also signal to her that yes, Sasha loved Abraham too, and does that help soften her toward Sasha eventually?
No, I think Rosita knew Sasha had true love for Abraham way before then. I think, if anything, the necklace just pissed her off, because it’s weird that what she is wearing is not an indication of Abraham — it’s really an indication of Rosita’s love for Abraham. So it’s very weird that she’s wearing it, and even stranger that she keeps it on after [Rosita tells her she made it], but that’s none of [Rosita’s] business, I guess.
Did Sasha know that’s where the necklace came from before Rosita said it? Or did she keep it because she knew it was Abraham’s?
I think she keeps it because she knows it’s Abraham’s, but the second that Rosita tells her, “Do you like it? I made it,” that’s when it should have come off. But I think that’s because — and we’ll never know, because we’re not in an apocalypse, but — she’s keeping it on because that’s all she has left of him. And that just shows the love that she had for Abraham, that despite the fact that Rosita made it, she’s still willing to keep it near and dear to her heart because she loved him.
One of the other great scenes between Rosita and Sasha is the exchange about the best approach for killing Negan. Should it be to go after him from the outside or from the inside? They’re both right potentially — both plans have pluses and minuses. They want the same things, they’re both capable. It’s not a surprise that Abraham liked them both, because the bottom line is that they are similar: very tough, capable women who are survivors, and who are very stubborn.
That is true, and we’ve seen the parallels with these two characters for a long time, all of us as a cast. So it definitely wasn’t surprising at all that he was seeking a relationship with [Sasha]. I love these two characters, because they are so different, they have different ways of doing things. And we’ve seen them with their reaction to Abraham’s death: Rosita does not handle it well, and she gets very hard, way harder than we’ve seen her be, and Sasha tried to find a common thing. She tries to relate to Rosita, is hoping that she is going to open up more, but instead, it made her more introverted. I think when Sasha sees Rosita finally open up, I think that’s something she’s maybe been wanting to happen for a while.
What is the thing that ultimately makes Rosita soften toward Sasha when they’re together in the factory, makes her tell her about her past? She said she’s never told anyone those things about herself. So why Sasha, and why now?
I think it’s a lot of things. I think a lot of it is her knowing that this is potentially a suicide mission for herself and this might be the only time she gets to say it out loud. These might be her final words. But I think she also knows that Sasha has been making an effort with her, so, in Rosita terms, I think she’s throwing her a bone.
What is Rosita thinking when Eugene refuses her and Sasha’s help to escape? Is she assuming he’s a traitor? Is she assuming he’s a coward? Or does she think that maybe he’s trying to protect her and Sasha to get them to go away and save themselves?
I think she just thinks he’s an idiot, which is something that she thinks quite often of him, but he can be an idiot. He’s also the smartest idiot in the world. We’ve seen what he’s capable of, his intelligence, his desire to stay alive and his drive to stay alive, and the fact that he’s not as useless as people thought in the very beginning. That thought went away very quickly when he started saving people’s lives. At this point, I don’t think she puts anything past him. I don’t know if she knows that this is all for survival. I don’t know if she knows that he’s gone forever, but it’s going to be interesting to see how she reacts when she finds out exactly which way this is going to go with him.
She and Sasha tell each other they have their backs when they’re about to go on this mission, and they both do, although I think Sasha meant that in a way that Rosita didn’t expect. Sasha is trying to save Rosita’s life. She’s telling her it’s not her time when she goes through that fence, which, as you just said, is likely a suicide mission. We see Rosita very angry — she’s crying. Is she sad that she thinks Sasha has gone on this suicide mission? Is she also angry that Sasha duped her and is leaving her out of the revenge plan?
I think it’s a little bit of anger. I think it’s frustration. I think she needed to see that through, and she’s being robbed of it. But I think bigger than that, it’s guilt. That’s what I think. And what’s great is that people can interpret it in any way they want … but I feel, as a fan and then as an individual, I think she’s feeling guilty because [Sasha] is essentially saving her life, and she’s wasted a lot of time [being angry]. That’s what I think she’s thinking.
Being angry at Sasha?
At the end, she sees someone with a bow standing nearby. That changes her immediate reaction.
Yeah, but I don’t know if we know exactly what she’s seeing, and I think that’s on purpose. I think there’s a little hesitation, because it could be somebody that she’s very familiar with. But why don’t we know for sure? I don’t think she can see who it is. I think the audience maybe knows who it is… I think us watching it, we see something that she doesn’t.
She’s running away, and then she stops. We don’t know for sure who she sees — someone with a bow, could be Daryl, who had just asked Jesus where she was, could maybe be Dwight, because Eugene had just ordered the Saviors to look for walkers — but is it safe to assume she isn’t going to just leave Sasha there in the Sanctuary without making some attempt to help her and save her?
Rosita never wants to give up or to accept a failure or loss, so I think there’s definitely going to be action. I definitely think there’s going to be a new strategy now. That’s what we’re going to see next.
What else can you say about the final two episodes of the season?
Every year I feel like we try to outdo ourselves, we try to raise the bar, we try to give the audience more of a roller-coaster ride, more colors, more feelings. And so far, I think we’ve succeeded. So I feel like more than ever, this is going to be a bigger, badder, more explosive season finale. I think whatever happens, whether we win or lose or people die, I think there is always a renewed life to this show, and it’s only going to be that much more fascinating for the next season.
‘The Walking Dead’ airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Read more from Yahoo TV:
‘The Walking Dead’ Recap: Breaking On Through to ‘The Other Side’