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The Walking Dead Postmortem: Is Sasha's Grief a Liability?

Find out why it could only lead to more problems

Adam Bryant

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead. Read at your own risk.]

Sometimes staying alive on The Walking Dead has nothing to do with avoiding herds of zombies.

On Sunday's episode, our death-plagued group of heroes had little time to mourn the recent losses of Beth (Emily Kinney) and Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) because they were preoccupied with the nearly impossible task of finding food and water. But even though Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) did find time during the crisis to break down a bit, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) took the pain of her brother's death out on walkers, wild dogs (hey, it's food!) and even her fellow survivors.

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But perhaps Sasha's negativity was well-earned. After all, when the skies finally offered some much-needed rain, it came in the form of a storm that forced the survivors into a barn, which was later attacked by a horde of walkers. Then again, the same storm was so destructive it killed the walkers while Sasha & Co. were spared. And then, out of the blue, Sasha and Maggie are approached by a man named Aaron (Ross Marquand), who claims he has good news.

So, are things finally looking up for our heroes? TVGuide.com chatted with Martin-Green about the risks of Sasha's grief, why she won't allow herself to accept happiness and just what she thinks of Aaron.

What was your reaction when you heard Tyreese was going to be killed off? How much did you think about what it would mean for Sasha?
Sonequa Martin-Green:
Definitely shocked. I was devastated. It was very hard to hear the news. Immediately, I thought about the impact that it was going to have on Sasha. It's almost inexpressible really, the impact of losing the love of her zombie apocalyptic life and then to lose her brother, who's she's always had. No matter what, she's always had him.

Sasha certainly seems galvanized by the death. Did it surprise you that she wouldn't let that grief in a little bit?
Martin-Green: I think it's definitely in line with who we know her to be, but, at the same time, she hasn't fully accepted it at this point. We see her at the burial and it's almost as if it's not real. She's in this dream-like state, and she just refuses to accept that this is reality right now. When we pick up in Episode 10, a little bit of time has passed and she's dealing with the first bits of it, and she is choosing to deal with it through violence. In her mind, [violence] is the only thing that can make it better. [She's] taking it out on the things that have caused her this pain, these walkers. They've now taken everything from her, and she's just ready to wreak havoc on them.

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Does she think if Tyreese had tapped into his own inner rage he might still be alive?
Martin-Green: I do think that that's how she feels. She says in the episode, "We're not the same. We never were" There's always been that disparity between them, but it got wider and wider. So, she's thinking, "Because of the way you are, because of that firm hold that you had on humanity that you just wouldn't let go of no matter what... now you're dead."

It seems like she's determined to go 100 percent in the opposite direction and embrace the brutality of the new world. Does she worry about her own humanity or inner morality?
Martin-Green: She's a very determined person. She makes decisions and sticks to them. She's very strong willed in that way, and I don't think she is thinking about her inner morality right now at all. She has accepted that this is what she has to do to move forward... and I don't think she's considering what it's going to do to her or where the path's going to lead. She's very much living in the moment because she feels like both her past and her future have been erased -- they've been stolen from her. All of her memories of life with her brother are now gone, and the hope for the future she had with Bob is now gone. So, the only thing that she has is this present moment, and she's going to go all the way in the opposite direction of her brother because it's the only thing that she thinks she can do.

Michonne is also a warrior like Sasha, yet she tells Sasha to stop what she's doing. How does Sasha view that conflict?
Martin-Green: Sasha messed up the plan. It was very important, the plan they had to save their energy and let these walkers just fall over the edge of the ravine. [The group is] very close to death -- the closest they've ever been -- and they need to conserve at this point. Sasha decides that she just doesn't care about the plan. She has no interest whatsoever in going easy on these walkers because they are the cause of her problems and her pain. But Michonne is the one who holds up that mirror to her and says, "You are acting like a crazy person, you are putting us in danger." And I think she immediately sees that, because she is a team player.

Michonne compared Sasha's behavior to Tyreese throwing himself into a group of walkers when he was hurting. Do you think in some ways she has a death wish?
Martin-Green: The end of that path is probably a place where you don't want to live anymore. But right now, survival is of the utmost importance. She's always been very black and white and very practical in that way. Survival is her only family at this point, and so she has to tell herself, "I am not like Tyreese. I am not going to let myself get killed. I am not going to be soft with this world and let it consume me." That's why it's very important for her to tell Michonne, "We're not the same."

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But even Maggie and Daryl, who aren't soft, take time to cry and grieve in this episode. Do you think Sasha knows there's a detriment to never addressing those feelings?
Martin-Green: There's definitely detriment to that. It's very damaging where she is right now. It's very dark, and I do think it's a detriment to her. But I do not think she's there yet. I don't think there's space in her mind right now for those kinds of considerations. She can't entertain the consequences of it yet.

There's a lot of seemingly otherworldly coincidences in this episode. Do you think that gives her any hope or faith that she can weather the metaphorical storm?
Martin-Green: Unfortunately, in those moments, no. She believes in God; it's definitely something that was in their family. But I think that Sasha, unfortunately, has kind of separated from that over the course of this zombie apocalypse. We see her, Maggie, and Daryl not celebrating when the rain comes down because there's just no room for celebration for any of them right now. It's that thing where you're hurting and so you'd rather not smile even though it is a great thing and they're very grateful for the rain. But you don't have room for joy. You don't see any joy in anything.

But there is that moment between Sasha and Maggie after the miracle storm kills all the walkers outside the barn. What was that moment about for you?
Martin-Green: I think they understand each other in a way that no one else can right now. Sasha definitely sees her grief as more than anyone else's right now, but she decides in that moment, "Maggie does understand me. She's the only one that can." So, she opens up for just that moment and then they're able to have that bit of peace with each other watching that sunrise. I think it was a momentary lapse in the turmoil for both of them.

Does it restore any hope for Sasha?
Martin-Green: It's good that she does find it for a moment [and] realizes, "Whoa, we should be very grateful that we survived because the storm could have ripped us apart." But it is, unfortunately, just for that moment. She has that revelatory moment and that confession of, "I don't think I can do this." But I do think that there is a moment of peace and a moment of joy. Sasha says, "I see it," looking out at the sunrise, and I think that's very beautiful that they were able to give each other that.

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And it's short-lived because Aaron shows up. What does Sasha make of what he has to say?Martin-Green: Sasha is extremely distrustful with people at this point, you know. The cop [in Episode 7] was really the last straw for her. She opened up to him, and was trying to live life the way Bob showed her, and then he knocked her unconscious. So, of course, the initial response is, "This is a threat." But she's definitely very curious. He could have come up behind them and killed them and didn't, and that is something that Sasha thinks about. She recognizes that.

So, will these final episodes get worse for Sasha before they get better?
Martin-Green: That'sthe question: Is she going to continue to go further into despair, further into the darkness, further into seclusion? Or is she going to turn into someone we've never seen before? Is she going to finally open up to herself, finally face it all, and let all of her defenses down? We'll have to see what path she takes.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.