Hershel's had a rough time of it lately on The Walking Dead, but somehow he's still hanging on.
Last year, things got so bad for Hershel (Scott Wilson) that he ended up losing part of his leg, but he managed to press on and survive the threat of the Governor (for now, anyway). This season, he's enduring things that are in some ways even tougher than being hobbled. He's had to make some hard decisions, bury a lot of comrades and, finally, lock himself in with a group of quarantined flu victims who were all almost certainly bound for death. And, oh yeah, once they die, they turn into walkers, and Hershel's not so light on his feet these days.
Last Sunday's episode, "Internment," pushed Hershel to his limit as he tried to both keep the remaining flu victims alive while waiting for crucial medicine to arrive and manage the threat that some of them would certainly perish soon. He was sleep-deprived, desperate and fighting a losing battle, but he fought all the while to stay positive. By the end, he lost almost everyone in his care, but he managed to save Glenn, and he also managed not to get sick himself. As Daryl said, Hershel's a "tough sumbitch."
But how is it that the oldest guy in the prison (that we know of), who's got one leg and seems to be getting very little sleep, made it through all of that without contracting so much as the sniffles? How did Wilson never get that fateful death scene call from The Walking Dead's producers? In an interview recapping the episode, Wilson explained.
"With the Spanish Flu, which [our executive producers] likened the virus to, there were two kinds of people who were ultimately not as vulnerable to it: older people, whose immune systems were in the process of not being as strong as they had been, and young people, whose immune systems were still developing," Wilson said. "It really hit people in their prime the hardest. So, once I understood that, I felt a little more confident [laughs]."
So, apparently, being less healthy actually helped Hershel make it through the crisis (it also conveniently explains why young Lizzie never got sick), but that doesn't mean he's safe. As Wilson explained elsewhere in the same interview, death could still come at any moment, even for a crucial Walking Dead character.
"There’s nothing set in stone about anything like that, as far as I know," he said. "In the past, people have known a little bit in advance, but then it becomes an issue of keeping it quiet. So, anything could happen without me knowing it."
A quote like that isn't surprising coming from someone on a show as volatile as The Walking Dead, but it does have us wondering anew: Which major character will go next? Any bets?