Andrew Lincoln on Walking Dead’s “Jazz Odyssey episode”

Behind the scenes on the last episode of The Walking Dead’s change in tone

Recent Walking Dead episode ‘The Next World’ saw quite the change in tone. For one thing, no one died. Secondly, at times it almost seemed like a knockabout comedy, with scenes of domestic bliss and Rick and Daryl capering around with new recruit Paul ‘Jesus’ Monroe (played by Tom Payne). We know it won’t last, but it was an interesting change nonetheless. We spoke to Andrew Lincoln and Greg Nicotero about last week’s episode…

Episode 10 was quite unexpected…

AL: It’s a tonal shift, isn’t it?

Yeah. My question is do you feel the show could only ever become so domesticated? It can only do that for so long and then it has to break the paradigm again.

AL: I think you’re right. I think that, like you said, there are certain reasons why people probably dig the show. The returning episode felt like a combination of all the things that work beautifully in the show that we do really well, which is the thrills, spills, horror, emotional heart, and in amongst this crazy-ass action sequence it then finishes in a very tender, quiet space, an intimate father-son moment, and I think that’s probably, if we were doing album covers, that would probably be the Greatest Hits. But then I think we do need to go for our Jazz Odyssey episode, because we’re in Season 6, and we owe it to you guys to push the envelope.

Scott Gimple said it to me when we entered Alexandria and I shaved everything off and we’d been this feral bunch of misfits and we were trying to become civislised, we were the sort of poison. I said ‘this feels really fricking scary, is this right?’ He said ‘we should be scaring ourselves’. It’s our responsibility as creative artists to be scaring ourselves. But in answer to your question I don’t think it will be very long (laughs).

I don’t think it could sustain that sort of episode. It’s lovely to show the world what we’re fighting for, what we’re bleeding for and screaming for and a world without the potential for romance and love and laugher… It was great fun doing it. Norman and I thought it was Butch and Sundance and after about five days everyone behind the monitors were just like ‘it’s Bill and Ted’. (Laughs)

GN: And according to Norman some of the funnier bits didn’t even [make the cut].

AL: He always says that. No, there’s some… we improvised quite a lot and it was just fun. It was just fun to just be hanging with those characters rather than fighting.

GN: You don’t get opportunities like that. Andy [Lincoln] and Norman [Reedus] don’t have lots of significant time together, so that episode was born out of a conversation that the three of us had at the beginning of the season when it was like, you have two guys who have fantastic chemistry together and they virtually have no scenes together! Or if they do it’s just like “grunt”, “grunt”, “grunt” and then they’re off! So it’s probably the most fun of an episode that we’ve had, but still fun in the world of our show. But surely nothing lasts. Unfortunately.

AL: Always the story will interfere with domesticity, it’s just one of those worlds. It moves like an Exocet missile, these next six episodes, doesn’t it? We meet a lot of new characters and a lot of new environments and it races to the season finale, which of course you directed again.


Tom Payne as Paul "Jesus" Monroe - The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Tom Payne as Paul ‘Jesus’ Monroe in The Walking Dead.

Carl has been increasingly independent and Rick’s been treating him almost as a lieutenant as well as a son – how does his injury change their father-son relationship?

AL: That’s really interesting, because I think in the comics books, certainly, the relationship between him and Negan and Rick is this strange, paternal and not paternal sort of respect between Negan and Carl, and this fascination with this boy, this boy soldier, is quite intoxicating I think for Carl in the comic book, which I think is interesting.

Maybe the boy has the same reaction to Negan: ‘oh, he’s treating me as an adult, not like a boy’. Which I think is very difficult as a parent to not do that at any point. I love their relationship, I love Carl and Rick, I think it’s very complicated and I do think that there are certain strange things that he says to me in these back six that concern me, as a parent. As Rick. We’ll see. I don’t want to say too much. I don’t want to spoil it!

The Walking Dead: Season 6 is airing now on Fox. For more news about the biggest TV shows, pick up the latest issue of SciFiNow.