[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of AMC's The Walking Dead. Read at your own risk.]
Thanks to the uncertain fate of Glenn, the cloud of death has hung over this season of The Walking Dead even more than usual. But Sunday's episode, while still failing to solve this season's biggest burning question, did take the time to inject a little sliver of happiness -- and maybe even a little bit of love.
The episode focused solely on Daryl (Norman Reedus), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) as the trio made their way back to Alexandria after successfully leading (half) the zombie herd 20 miles away. However, when the group encounters an unexpected ambush by some hostile locals with automatic weapons, Daryl gets separated from the other two.
While Daryl spends most of the episode in a burned-out forest fighting with and eventually helping (only to be double-crossed) three escapees from the group that was firing at our heroes, Sasha and Abraham decided to hole up and let Daryl's tracking abilities lead him back to them. During their overnight stay, Sasha decided to get to the bottom of why Abraham chose to join in on this mission, and why he's been acting so recklessly along the way. Sasha made the argument that Abraham is out of control, and now that the group is safe(er) at Alexandria, he has to tamp down his killer instinct. "If you have a roof over your head, you have food, you have choices," she tells Abraham. "And without walkers and bullets and sh-- hitting the fan, you're accountable for them. Hell, you're always accountable. It's just with all that other noise, you know people won't notice."
The next morning, while out scavenging, Abraham finds a military truck filled with guns and rocket-propelled grenades. When he notices an extra RPG strapped to the back of a walker who is suspended off the side of the bridge, Abraham crawls out toward it and screams in its face rather than killing it and taking the RPG. In the aftermath, Sasha's words finally seem to sink in. But when he goes back to tell her, something else entirely comes out of his mouth. It seems Abraham's vision of the future involves him and Sasha being a bit of an item!
"We got beer and air conditioning and walls. The table is set for the rest of our lives, and I hope those years to be long and fruitful. ... I've been feeling the urge to make some plays before the great cosmic Pete comes to cut my throat unceremoniously and I gurgle my last breath. Things are going to go on for a while before that, and that hadn't occurred to me before. Been kind of living check-to-check on that point. I like the way you call bullsh--, Sasha. I believe I'd like to get to know you a whole lot better"
So, is this beginning of a new relationship on the show? Why is Abraham so confident that Sasha will return his affection? And what about Abraham and Rosita (Christian Serratos)? TVGuide.com chatted with Cudlitz about the latest development.
Where has Abraham's head been this season up until this point?
Michael Cudlitz: For Abraham, it's been a real slow burn. The idea of Alexandria has been a very comforting, hopeful place for many of our family, and I think that for Abraham, it has not been a place of comfort. It's been a place that's given him time to think and sit with his own thoughts, and it's been time for him to not be a solider and not have a mission and not have anything that keeps him from examining his past and having to deal with his past. Now, he's having to do all of those things, and it's not a smooth ride at all. His downtime is eating at him. He's trying to decide what he wants his future to be. I don't think he knows, and that's going to evolve over this season, him finding what it means to live more than just for the moment, just for today, just to survive. What does it mean to move forward and what does it mean to actually live a life worth living?
Is that part of why he got in the car with Sasha? To get back into the muck of it so he could avoid that downtime?
Cudltz: It's a huge component of who he is, someone who is not quiet. If he sees opportunity to be involved in a way that he prefers to be involved, he's going to choose it. So, he is choosing to infuse himself into the most dangerous part of the mission, and we're left with why? Is it because he knows what happened to Sasha and he is trying to protect her? Is it for himself because he needs that rush, that constant danger because that's how he thrives? As we see at the end of the episode, there's a lot of other subtextual, more subtle reasons why he chose to go on that mission, but I don't think he's aware of that when he does it. I don't think it's a conscious choice that he knows what his feelings are or might be for Sasha. I just think he's drawn to the mission and he's drawn to her.
Abraham certainly does plenty of reckless things on this trip, particularly with the walker on the bridge.
Cudlitz: He could very easily have stabbed a walker in the head or shot the walker and then taken the RPG off, but he chooses to literally face death. But he comes come to terms with basically, "What am I doing?" He sees the ridiculousness of what he is doing and the position he has put himself in, because at every turn, he's chosen to make this trip more dangerous than it has to be.
But he sees it only after Sasha calls him on it.
Cudlitz: A hundred percent, she nailed me. That helps him process and see what he's been doing. It's like an addict. He thinks he's so clever and nobody knows what I'm doing, and then when it gets transparent and you're like, "Wow, I'm just acting like an ass--- and everybody is aware of it." So, it's a great sort of self-realization. He gets completely f---ing called out, and he loves it, because it's like, "Finally! Somebody's not trying to kiss my ass!" He digs it. He's never met anyone like Sasha, so I think he's like, "Look, it's the new world order, let's f---ing see what that would be like. Why not?"
Was it being called out that also made him think about Sasha in a more romantic way?
Cudlitz: Utimately, there's not too many people who call Abraham on his bullsh-- or even question what he has to say. I would say, at a base level, that flipped the switch. That turned him on to a degree. It was like, "Oh, what's up with this?" And maybe he's realizing it was there all along, like school kids running around in the school yard beating each other up, and you realize, "Oh, we're actually attracted to each other and not really sure how to handle it."
Like most of Abraham's speeches, his declaration was colorfully worded.
Cudlitz: [Laughs] It literally looks like if you were to take something and run it through Google Translate. This sh-- is just not always in the right place. With Abraham, what he's saying is more emotionally philosophical and I don't think it's in the words; I think it's in the intention. It is some of the most difficult dialogue I've ever had to learn, but once I really am able to wrap myself around the emotional message that he's trying to get out, then it just flows, and it really just couldn't be anything else. But I was like, "Dude, wow, that's the strangest f---ing declaration of love I've ever heard in my life." [Laughs]
Is Abraham a little let down that he didn't get a big reaction from Sasha after he professed his feelings?
Cudlitz: Oh, I think he knows that she is absolutely attracted to him. He says, "A man knows." But she says, "You've got some sh-- to deal with." She knows I'm still with Rosita. So, she's not going to [jump into his arms]. It's like, "You go handle your sh-- buddy, and then we'll see what happens."
Does Sasha saying that help Abraham make that choice then and there? How will he deal with Rosita?
Cudlitz: We'll see. We're going to figure it out one step at a time. It's much more complicated than that. I think that just ups the ante even more because it's an extremely passive affirmation of what he's dealing with.It's all a work in progress, all of it. Nothing's definitive now. Everything's in flux.
What is it about Sasha that attracts Abraham?
Cudlitz: Her pain, her loss, is something he identifies with greatly. It brings them closer because he feels connected to her. He fully understands what she is going through, and that in itself is something that pulls them together. Even if they never were to get together, that will pull them very, very close together, that acknowledgement that they both know what they've been through.
The audience knows a lot has gone down at Alexandria while Abraham has been away. What do you think his reaction will be when he gets home and sees what's happened?
Cudlitz: It's going to be f---ing time to take care of business. Sh-- went bad, but it didn't go as bad as it could've gone. We'll reassess and we'll move forward. The concern still is for everybody back there. That's his family now. So, he definitely needs to get back there. There's a belief that those guys are going to be handling it themselves, but there's also the fear of what if?
But he does have Chekov's RPGs now. Safe to assume we'll get to see those in action?
Cudlitz: [Laughs] Oh, gosh. I'd hate to have those and not be able to use them, wouldn't you?
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. What did you think of Abraham's confession to Sasha?