EW: Obviously, Michonne did a brutal number on him in the comic. How did you go about deciding which pieces of his body he would keep and lose here?
MAZZARA: We always knew he was going to lose his eye in this fight. And that’s a turning point. That’s reasonable. So he loses that eye and that was a good place to say, now it’s a much darker, more vengeful Governor that’s coming after them in the second half of the season. He’s not just going to forgive and forget. He now knows that prison is there and he’s bent on destroying those people and that is really the arc for the second half of the season.
EW: So, how does David Morrissey look with an eye-patch on?
MAZZARA: Actually, he looks good.
EW: He always looks good!
MAZZARA: Yeah, he always looks good. At one point, I will say, there is a scene coming up in the back half of the season where he has to drive, and he had the eye patch and we never thought about this, but he can’t see through the eye patch. So try driving with one eye! There’s no depth perception. He was asking me not to write any more driving scenes for him because he was afraid he was going to crash.
EW: Tell me about the scene with Jon Bernthal coming back to play Shane as a hallucination of Rick’s. Where did that inspiration come from and how did you pull it off?
MAZZARA: We wanted to amp up Rick’s hallucinations. We have this thing from the comic book in which he’s talking to Lori on the phone and it would not be realistic to suddenly have him back to square one and all of that was forgotten. So the idea that these hallucinations would escalate and become visual is interesting, I think. Especially under duress. Rick has a type of post-traumatic stress syndrome that he’s fighting there. So we kept that a secret and called Jon. And Jon was game to come back, and we were really looking forward to seeing the audience reaction when they see that because sometimes spoilers do get out, but we were bale to keep that one a secret. So I was happy with that.
EW: Can I just say, poor Oscar. I was actually starting to like that guy. And who gets his slippers now that he’s dead?
MAZZARA: That was a tough one. That actor [Vincent Ward] has done a great job, but we could not have the Governor get his ass kicked completely. He loses his daughter, he loses his eye, his town is shot up. We had to put some points in his column, so poor Oscar had to go.
EW: He’s like the poor Starfleet sap that always gets killed out on a mission with Kirk and Spock.
MAZZARA: Yeah, it was a little bit of that, but we had to do that. And then the big points in the column is the surprise cliffhanger ending that I guarantee I will receive many, many angry tweets from Daryl fans over the hiatus in which people are not going to like the fact that Daryl is in danger in the arena with his own brother.
EW: Obviously, having the Dixon brothers meet up for the first time is something fans have been waiting for two years now, so I’m sure a lot of thought went into how you wanted to present it every step of the way. Tell me how you arrived at this particular scenario of Daryl finding out via Glenn that his brother was behind this mess and then the two ending up facing off against the whole town together.
MAZZARA: I believe it was our co-executive producer Evan Reilly who came up with this idea that the two brothers were together at the end of the midseason finale — that scene that you saw. And I just loved it. I was so shocked by that and yet it felt completely plausible. So then when we were working on the script, we were trying to preserve the moment where Daryl finds that Merle is there but it didn’t feel real for Glenn or Maggie not to tell him, “This is Merle.” Those would be the first worlds out of Glenn’s mouth, so we just really felt we have to keep the show grounded, keep it real, and do what would really happen. So when we were working on that scene we had Glenn say it because that’s something that he would do. It would have felt contrived to not give that information. It just felt organic.
EW: Why does the Governor turn on Merle and announce him as a traitor?
MAZZARA: Well, Merle came back and said he killed Michonne. So he lied. And he’s also responsible for bringing these guys there by bringing Glenn and Maggie. That was not Merle’s job. Merle lied about Michonne and that cost the Governor his own daughter Penny. So that’s what that’s about.