[Warning: This story contains major spoilers about AMC's The Walking Dead and the comic book series that inspired it. Read at your own risk.]
After spending two seasons as the group's moral compass, Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) met his demise far earlier than his comic book counterpart. Because of this, the long-awaited and surprising relationship between Dale and Andrea (Laurie Holden) formed in the comics will never see the light of day on the hit TV series.
TVGuide.com caught up with Holden to get her take on the big death and how the group will grieve moving forward. Plus: It's all Carl's fault, right?
How did you feel about Dale's death?
Holden: It was heartbreaking. I didn't know it was coming until a script was delivered to my trailer and I was leafing through it and came to that scene and literally I had the reaction like it was real, like someone I really loved died. I burst into tears and ran out of my trailer and went to my various coworkers and said, "Have you read this? Is this true? Is this true?" I was pretty bereft, I have to admit, for many reasons. To begin with, I love Jeff DeMunn and I enjoyed every moment of working with him. I've done two other movies with him and the third time's a charm. I feel so blessed to have had that experience. But also, I love the Dale-Andrea dynamic and I felt like we had so much more story to explore together and it was cut a bit short.
Were you surprised about his death since Andrea and Dale eventually got into a relationship in the comics?
Holden: Yeah, because that was always the plan, but it's no secret that the television show does veer off from the graphic novel and it was a creative decision that [executive producers] Glen Mazzara and Robert Kirkman came up with and stood behind. It made sense in terms of story and how we're moving forward.
Last year you mentioned that you were excited for the Dale-Andrea relationship and said that the show was going to honor the comics in that regard. At the time, did you think they were going down that path?
Holden: Absolutely. Absolutely. This tough thing about our show is that we have to remind ourselves it is a zombie apocalypse, that the rules change, that any character can go at any time and sometimes there are going to be deviations from the source material. This just happened to be the one character I never expected it to happen to.
Given all the death as of late, how worried are you about Andrea's fate?
Holden: To be honest, I'm not worried. If you read the latest issue of the graphic novel, she's alive and strong. I feel confident that Andrea's going to be around for a while.
With the group still divided in terms of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Shane (Jon Bernthal), will Andrea side with Shane?
Holden: I think she always has, to be honest. Like she said in one of the episodes, it's just his presentation that lacks a little something to be desired. She admires Shane, but isn't exactly fond of the way he's gone about doing things. But the world has changed and he's made some pretty smart moves.
Does she think Shane is good or bad for the group?
Holden: She thinks he's a great guy, but you have to understand that she's not privy to a lot of his personal conversations with other people. She's not privy to what happened between him and Dale. She's not really aware of the fighting between Rick and Shane. Those are isolated incidences. All Andrea knows is that he's been a really cool cat that really mentored her and showed her how to protect herself and shoot a gun, and sometimes he gets a bit hot headed and she's looking at him like, "Hey, you need to kind of get it together." But other than that I think that she still really believes in him.
How does the group handle the death of Dale?
Holden: Obviously the death of Dale is very hard on Andrea as it is on Glen (Steven Yeun) more than anybody else in the group. There's a lot of guilt and a lot of regret. She wasn't particularly easy on him for quite some time and Andrea wasn't in a very good head space. When Dale passes, every move that Andrea makes from that point forward is about honoring Dale, and that means being a leader, having a stronger moral compass, being compassionate and really lending her hand more so than she would have before. I remember distinctly for the rest of the season, every single thing that I did before every scene, I thought, "Andrea, you must honor Dale." And if there was ever a caption to describe Andrea's head space, that's it.
How will Carl (Chandler Riggs) handle Dale's death since he is partially at fault?
Holden: Bless his little heart. There's so much hate for that character right now, and I keep reminding everybody on Twitter that he's just a child. He made a mistake. He's a baby. Give him some slack. The guilt and remorse that that poor child is going to carry, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. So I hope people can understand that he is 12 and forgive him because I don't think that he's going to be able to forgive himself.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.