[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 6, “On the Inside.”]
In the end, Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Virgil (Kevin Carroll) survived their ordeal in the feral-infested house… but to hear them tell it, surviving might’ve only been half the battle. Especially for Connie, who already had PTSD from the cave. And there’s some question as to whether poor Virgil’s still alive?!
We chatted with Carroll and Ridloff about filming those pulse-pounding sequences inside the house, a surprising connection to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) within the episode, and what Connie’s eventual reunion with Daryl (Norman Reedus) might be like.
The reunion at the end of the episode was heartwarming, but I couldn’t help but think… Virgil is gravely injured! Is he alive at the end of the episode?
Kevin Carroll: That’s one of the exciting parts of being part of the universe. There’s always a bit of mystery about what happened, right? I’m going to say stay tuned, and let’s hope for the best.
Well, I had to ask! Now, for both of you — you had some very intense sequences this episode, some pulse-pounding sequences. Kevin, what was it like filming those fights with the feral people? And Lauren, what was it like filming those claustrophobic sequences in the vents and the walls?
Carroll: We have, in the world of the ferals, brilliant, amazing stunt people that do that work. They were incredible. They tell a specific story through movement, and they take care of one another in the incredibly delicate fight scenes. Nobody’s trying to lose an eye or tooth, and they do very precise work. They bring an element to the storytelling that helps us with the physicality—and the danger in the physicality that they are able to help us tell. We work as a team to tell that element of the story. They’re the best, and they do some of the best work in the industry.
Lauren Ridloff: I do remember that scene where Virgil and Connie are running through, and the ferals jump down from upstairs on top of Virgil. We shot that scene over and over again, and that poor actor was throwing himself onto Virgil over and over again. I was so impressed with their determination and work ethic, and my hat’s off to all of them. It was so physically demanding, the way they were able to move. Greg [Nicotero] was always like, “I want to see you move your arms, move your legs!” You saw that was successful on camera.
I think Connie’s claustrophobia was interesting for me because she helped Carol (Melissa McBride) when Carol was experiencing claustrophobia [in the cave], so we know that Connie didn’t have that fear of small spaces. But because of her experience from the cave, being stuck there for weeks and weeks with walkers all around her, I think that triggered something in her. It was very intense. I do remember at one point, when we were shooting Connie behind the wall, Greg put his hand on my shoulder to check in and ask me if I was okay, because I was physically shaking. I was trying to catch my breath because you get immersed into the character. I believed I was going through these walls.
It’s interesting you mention Carol and PTSD from the cave, because that was something I was going to ask about. How will that ordeal shape Connie’s relationship with Carol (Melissa McBride) going forward?
Ridloff: I think that right now, Connie is still dealing with the fact that she survived the cave collapse and survived the ferals. I don’t think her brain has actually gotten there yet. Right now, I think she is just in survival mode. But I do think that Connie is an empathic person, and my feeling is that Connie is not going to hold any grudges against Carol.
When Virgil insists Connie needs to keep going without him, he says he has to “pass on that chance” Michonne (Danai Gurira) gave him. What does he mean by that?
Carroll: I think in a lot of ways, Virgil is referring to the fact that Michonne, at one point, had a chance to end Virgil. She decided against that. Michonne grew in her humanity when they were on the island and on the ship and looking for the boots, and she offered Virgil a chance to come with her. I think that these things expanded his humanity, and I think he’s in a place now where he’s obligated to pay it forward. I think he wants Connie to go without burden, without feeling guilty, and he’s offering her an emotional freedom to make that choice. I think that’s a brilliant writing notion that Kevin Deibolt did with that character, that Connie refused to do that.
In my opinion, Connie is one of the most empathetic and selfless characters in the Walking Dead universe. What fuels that kind spirit of hers?
Ridloff: We also have to remember that Connie was, in her previous life, a journalist. I think she pursues people to help them improve society, and I think that is something that has always been part of who she is. She believes in the greater good. There is something out there that is worth fighting for, and I think she sees the value in every person.
I’m sure you are aware that many fans love the relationship between Daryl and Connie. What does Connie like about him?
Ridloff: He’s fearless. He doesn’t have any fear, and I think that he has a sense of family and community that Connie also has and sees in him. Also, going back to the fearlessness, I think Connie can see the fact that he tries to learn how to sign, even though he makes a complete fool of himself! But he still does it. I think Connie loves that about Daryl.
Can you tease anything about their relationship going forward?
Ridloff: I think that Connie is going to be a changed woman from what she has been through, from the cave and now with the ferals. I think that we will see how Connie is dealing with and navigates that re-entry into the community. For sure, I think Connie will be glad to see Daryl again.
And Dog, probably, too? They always got along well.
Ridloff: Of course!
Fans noticed something interesting about that scene where Virgil told Connie to leave him. During that scene, the same musical theme plays that played after Rick (Andrew Lincoln) blew up the bridge in Season 9. Could that be a hint as to how Virgil plays into the show’s story going forward? He does have that Rick and Michonne connection…
Carroll: Oh, what I can say about that is that our team is very good at creating space in the universe for possibilities to happen. I am just as excited to know as you are! That’s what I can say.
Ridloff: What I was going to say is that I had no idea about that musical element! That’s so interesting to me. When I think about that scene with Rick and the bridge, there was a great sense of sacrifice in that scene. That music connects to Virgil in that similar vein, it’s that same theme of sacrifice. He was ready to make that ultimate sacrifice.
We’ve gotten bits and pieces of Connie’s backstory here and there—but is there anything you’d come up with as an actor to fill in gaps, that you’d be willing to share?
Ridloff: I don’t know that this is a direct answer to your question, but I do remember the very first season that Connie came on. At that time, we were still discussing who Connie was and what her story was, and how she fit into her group with Magna and Yumiko and Kelly and Luke. The director we were working with at that time, Michael Cudlitz, said, “Well, Connie is kind of like the grandmother of the group.” I was kind of like, “Huh.”
I do think that as an actor, I think I helped shape Connie and her direction to go to a place where she is seen as a capable woman who can fend for herself. I think that is part of what surprised Virgil, too—he wants to protect her, but at the end she protects him. I think as an actor, I made Connie not the grandmother! More like a big sister.
The Walking Dead Season 11, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC