SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 9 episode "The Calm Before," which premiered Sunday on AMC.
The latest episode of AMC's The Walking Dead included one of the show's most heartbreaking bloodbaths. One of the victims was Hilltop leader Tara, one of the show's longest-serving survivors. Now, actor Alanna Masterson and showrunner Angela Kang have opened up about Tara's sudden demise and how she took the news.
"I was caught off guard for sure, but also excited for what the future holds. Tara has been extremely fun to bring to life," Masterson told Entertainment Weekly.
Tara's head ended up on a spike along with nine other victims, including Carol's adopted son Henry and the teenage Enid. While it marked the start of "The Whisperer War" comic book storyarc, it came as a shock to fans who were hoping to see more of Tara leading the Hilltop, especially in the wake of Maggie's departure and Jesus' death.
"It was really fun to explore that side of Tara. I wish we had gotten to explore that more, but I’m excited to see where the story goes from here," Masterson added on her brief tenure with Hilltop.
Masterson has been part of the series since Season 4 as part of Abraham's group. After six years on the job, this exit in Season 9 she admitted was tough but something she was prepared for.
"The last day on set was really nice. It was freezing cold and we were all huddled around talking and laughing," she said regarding her final day of shooting. "The crew is my family, and I’m going to miss them terribly. "
When discussing how members of the cast were notified of their deaths, showrunner Angela Kang, also revealed that those who were slated for death were given ample heads up, and given the nature of the show, no one was really surprised. "I let people know that this moment was coming. So people were aware that it might be their time, and it would definitely be the time for people that we love on the show," Kang added.
"So people were kind of mentally prepared for it, and everybody was absolutely lovely and professional about it. We do The Walking Dead. It's in the title. It's part of the deal when you sign on to do this show that your time in some way is going to be limited."
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC, The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Nadia Hilker, Dan Fogler, Angel Theory, Lauren Ridloff and Eleanor Matsuura.