Major spoilers for The Walking Dead 3.09 “The Suicide King” follow. Continue at your own discretion
Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara, exec. producer Robert Kirkman and actress Sarah Wayne Callies have weighed in on last night’s midseason return, “The Suicide King,” in a series of interviews with EW.
Mazzara on the significance of Rick’s vision of Ghost Lori:
[..] She’s appearing to him in what was her wedding dress, on the day he was happiest with her. And if you look at that moment — and this is important — if you look at that moment when he sees her, it’s right when he’s about to let Tyrese and his group join the group and stay in the prison. And his sanity cracks and his subconscious shows him this vision, which is a classic horror moment. And it’s at exactly the wrong time, and it ruins something for that group. And Hershel, who is very astute and a good friend of Rick’s and has a lot of insights into that Rick-Lori relationship — this will be an arc for him, the fact that his friend is slipping away. It activates Hershel in an interesting way. Hershel spent the back half of the first part of the season recovering from his injury. Hershel is now back and he’s ready to kick ass with his one good leg. He really needs to save his friend.
On what this means for Rick and the group going forward:
That’s exactly the story. What becomes of this group if Rick is at his most fragile point? And if you look at when these hallucinations appear, it’s at moments of great stress. And the pressure is increasing on Rick. He’s cracking under that pressure, but our group is dependent on Rick to keep it together so they can all survive. That is the story of the back half of the season.
In a separate Entertainment Weekly interview, Kirkman notes that the show is taking the Rick hallucination storyline in a slightly different direction from the comic books:
Yeah, we’re doing something a little bit different, a little bit more tangible. I think that episode after episode of Rick talking on the phone would be somewhat less compelling than it ended up being in the comic book. So we’re doing something similar but very different, which I think is the beauty of the show.
I did not. I called [showrunner] Glen Mazzara after I shot that stuff, which was after the Death Dinner, and he said, “Look I can’t come to set. My mom just died and I don’t want to be there, but call me when it’s done.” And I called him and I was like, “It’s over. I have no idea if it’s good or bad, but I left it all on the field. I’m going to be at the bar in five minutes with the crew. “ And he said, “Well, we’re actually kicking around ideas of bringing you back.” I think I said, “I don’t want to hear it.” I was so in goodbye mode, and so many ideas are kicked around in any writers’ room. Ideas come and go and are born or die by the dozen. So I didn’t really take it seriously. We had talked about a phone call, because that’s in the script, so I thought that it wouldn’t surprise me if they did that. And I loved that episode with the phone call to Rick.