Major spoilers for the Nov. 4 episode of “The Walking Dead” are included in this article.
With the episode of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” viewers said their gruesome goodbyes to two of the show’s recurring characters. Both Lori Grimes and T-Dog have been members of the central group of survivors since Season 1, and though many fans had been expecting — sometimes even asking for — their deaths for seasons, that didn’t make their demises any less effective.
In fact, actress Sarah Wayne Callies actively called for Lori’s death while Frank Darabont was still “The Walking Dead’s” showrunner. When current showrunner Glen Mazzara called her last November to let her know Lori would be dying this season, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. But then she learned Lori’s death would be expedited, happening only a quarter of the way through Season 3.
Because of this, there remain a number of unresolved plot points surrounding Lori. During a conference call with members of the press including Comic Book Resources, Callies admitted she never would have wanted Lori’s death to come at a time where there were no outstanding conflicts. In this case, Lori was on the path to finding “redemption in her marriage and with Carl,” but she hadn’t quite accomplished it yet.
“While I don’t think either of those were achieved completel … I think we took steps down that path in a way that I think not only dramatically surged the show but in way that I’m proud of personally,” Callies said. “It’s the best work I’ve ever done on camera… I love that woman and I’m going to miss her.”
Lori’s death sparked two major changes for her onscreen family. Carl had to kill his mother, an act Callies said caused him to become an adult. The event has also devastated Rick, sending him on a downward spiral that will likely last for the rest of this season.
“It’s important for what happens to Rick later that he replay that scene between the two of them at the end of Episode 2 over and over in his head and go, ‘Why didn’t I tell her I love her? Why didn’t I say I forgive you?'” Callies said. “That’s the part of the show that’s honest.
“I’ve always thought that Lori’s death does something very important to Rick, which is drive him crazy… Lori’s death is about Rick.”
It should be mentioned that Lori’s death differed from what happens in the comics. On television, she died while giving birth to her child, which lives, while in the graphic novel, a stray bullet kills both her and her daughter. Of course, just because Lori didn’t meet that fate on screen, Callies said there’s no guarantee that some other character won’t have that same death scene. “I think it makes sense to change the circumstance. That kind of the death you may still get later on in the season,” she teased. “There may be proxies for Lori’s death the way she died in the comic book later on.”
She added that she’d be up to return to haunt Rick as Lori in the AMC television show in the same way that her character did in the comics.
In Callies’ eyes, Lori considered her pregnancy to be a death sentence from the beginning. When she made the decision to giver her life in order to save her child, she made sure those around her would be able to care for it. Lori felt Hershel and Carol would be able to step up to the task of taking care of her baby, and also knew that Carl would be able to be the one to put her down once she became a walker. In fact, Lori’s sole concern at that point was how Rick would respond to her death.
“[The death has] an interesting tone because it’s not surrounded by quite the same level of crisis and panic, though she’s clearly in a situation where things are going to go badly with or without her choice,” Callies said.
The entire cast was present during the filming of Lori’s death scene, something Callies believes is part of what made Chandler Riggs able to get through the emotional sequence. Callies said she felt it was important for Riggs to be surrounded by the cast he’ll be moving on with.
“I love that kid,” she said. “When we lost Jon [Bernthal in Season 2], Andy [Lincoln] and I put our arms around him and said, ‘You have us.’ I feel like a bit of a jerk.”
As one leaves, another arrives with Lori’s death heralding in a new cast member in the form of her baby. Callies said that a good portion of the rest of Season 3 will deal with the Prison survivors figuring out how to care for a newborn in their still-freshly apocalyptic world.
“It’s not just about, how do we survive in the prison? [It’s about,] how do we find food for a baby? How do we keep the baby quiet? What do you do about diapers? There’s only one woman there who’s ever been a mom, and Carol just lost her daughter, so is Carol going to want to help?” she asked. “I think it makes the situation much more acute much earlier for the rest of the group.
“Truncating [the pregnancy], I think, makes for better storytelling and getting to the punch line, which is what do we do now?” Callies continued “What do we do with a baby and what does Rick do without his wife? That’s the season.”
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays on AMC at 9PM.