It was an episode filled with thrills, chills, and an ungodly amount of kills. And there was one final surprise awaiting our not-so-merry band of survivors in the very last shot.
[SPOILER ALERT: Continue reading only if you have already watched Sunday’s season premiere of The Walking Dead. Seriously, stop right now if you haven't. Read on at your own risk!] After Rick and Co. infiltrated a prison and narrowly escaped an angry horde of flesh eaters, they looked up to see the biggest shock of all — a group of five humans. Who are they and what is their story? We went to main man in charge, showrunner Glen Mazzara, for answers.
As you may have guessed — from their presence in the comic book storyline on which the show is based, as well as the location — the five new individuals Daryl trained his crossbow on in the final scene are indeed convicts who have survived the apocalypse. And while some of them (Axel and Andrew) do share names with prisoners from the comic book, others (Tomas, Oscar, Big Tiny) do not.
“We changed some of these names around,” says Mazzara. “There was a Dexter in the book. Obviously there’s a TV show named Dexter so we changed some of the names to feel more specific to this show.” Here’s a photo identifying all five inmates, plus more from Mazzara on the prisoners’ backstory and individual notes on each character.
From left to right: Big Tiny (Theodus Crane), Oscar (Vincent Ward), Axel (Lew Temple), Andrew (Markice Moore) and Tomas (Nick Gomez)
“This group of prisoners saw the outbreak happen in their prison almost a year ago and guards were turning on prisoners and prisoners were tuning on guards,” says Mazzara. “Imagine a zombie movie set in a prison. These are the sole survivors of that movie. And they’ve been locked up with each other for almost a year, and now suddenly they’re freed by Rick and Daryl and the group and have had no idea what’s happened to the rest of the world. Part of our thinking was, there were so many people during the Katrina disaster that were trapped. There was this one hospital where people were trapped and just waiting for help. That’s who these guys are. They’ve been waiting almost a year for help. And help never arrives. And they end up meeting Rick and the group and being set free and they have no idea what’s happened out there in the larger world, so in a way they are sort of like Rip Van Winkle waking up in the middle of a horrible apocalyptic nightmare.”
Here’s what Mazzara has to say about each of the individual characters:
Tomas (played by Nick Gomez)
“Tomas is the leader. Tomas is the alpha male. He’s the one who is in charge and he is the one who has set the rules and he did before the apocalypse, he’s been doing that since, and suddenly, here’s Rick telling him, ‘This isn’t even your prison any more.’ Tomas is not going to stand for that.”
Andrew (played by Markice Moore)
“Andrew is really Tomas’ right hand man. These guys are really the ones who have been intimidating Axel and Oscar.”
Axel (played by Lew Temple)
“Axel is a great character. He’s someone who was probably a two-bit criminal who finds himself in a bigger mess. He’s probably happy to be freed by Rick because he realizes he’s not as cutthroat as Tomas and Andrew.”
Oscar (played by Vincent Ward)
“Oscar is another guy who has had to go along with Tomas’ rule.”
Big Tiny (played by Theodus Crane)
“Big Tiny is the muscle of the group. The idea was that all of these guys together are a formidable force. These are hardened convicts who have survived living together for almost a year, almost in the same way that Rick and his group have. So this is a surprising force for Rick to come up against. And they are formidable. And they are scary. And they are dangerous. Just as dangerous as Rick’s group.”
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