Is The Walking Dead a moral show?
Lincoln: Yeah. I think as you’ll see, yep. I mean, “morality,” it can be a very trendy word. Discussions of morality have become fashionable in my lifetime. But I certainly think that it’s a human story. Let’s talk about not a moral story, but a human story. You know, it was always important to me that we talk on a creative level about the human inside the monster and the monster instead the human, and I think that’s absolutely the embodiment of the series. And of course it’s also a survival story. It’s a story about humans trying to survive both physically and emotionally. I think this season is reminiscent -- at least for me, Rick’s arc -- of a man trying to determine whether his mercy will prevail over his wrath.
I mean, he says as much in the premiere. Will my mercy prevail over my wrath? That’s the overarching theme for my character. I think that a lot of the other characters asking a different question: why are we fighting, and what is the cost of it? Are those not moral questions? If that’s not moral, I’m not sure what is.
Well that’s an interesting point: we want Rick’s mercy, his goodness, to prevail. So many of the characters we see on TV these days have the opposite arc: it’s about normal people becoming anti-heroes, people becoming morally compromised. But Rick is a fundamentally good person struggling to continue to be good.
Lincoln: I think you’re right. That’s certainly how I see him. What’s happened is, he’s been hammered and beaten and broken. That trauma has brought him into the place where sometimes he’s unrecognizable — and his behaviour is beyond all recognition sometimes, in order to protect his loved ones. But fundamentally he’s a man who is grief-stricken. He’s desperate to hold onto some semblance of who he was, of the man he used to be. And I think perhaps that man will appear this season.
The premiere is so action-packed, as you’ve mentioned. Is there still room this season for some of the emotionality we’re used to on the series?
Lincoln: The season is anchored by some of the biggest deaths we’ve ever encountered in a hundred episodes, is what I will say.
And yet there seems to be more hope on the horizon than before.
Lincoln: Without a shadow of a doubt. There’s more of what I think of as the combination of qualities that make up my favorite episodes: there’s action, there’s adventure, there’s a strong sense of solidarity, and yes, hope. Absolutely. It’s huge throughout the season. Also I get to play with a lot of my favorite friends I’ve made on both sides of the camera this season. On screen, especially, I will get to hang with a lot of my best buddies, which is always thrilling.