Walking Dead star on the 'cruel irony' of that shocking, heartbreaking twist

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Jan 25, 2016, 4:21 PM EST (Updated)

AMC’s hit zombie series The Walking Dead returned Sunday night and wasted no time blowing our minds and breaking our hearts. So, what do the folks behind the series have to say about that shocking twist?

Massive spoilers ahead for last night’s Walking Dead midseason premiere!

Wow. Just, wow. The Walking Dead series has always taken some liberties when compared to the comics, and those changes left many fans thinking Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) could be around a good long while — especially since he survived the fall of the prison relatively unscathed. Turns out, all it took was a sneaky kid zombie to take down one of the most virtuous members of Team Rick.

It was gut-wrenching to see Tyreese go down, and the writers played it perfectly to bring his story to a close with some bone-chilling cameos brought on by delirium. In a chat with TV Line, Coleman opened up about his character’s demise and the fact that his compassion and humanity are partially what put him in harm’s way:

“It was just a cruel irony. No matter how virtuous you are, no one is immune [to the perils of that world]. Hopefully, what Tyreese stood for will carry on even after his death … I think I represented the most super human being and a person — not a comic book cut-out, a real person. [But that said,] his level of consciousness and sensitivity was an Achilles’ heel. If you didn’t kill somebody and that person comes back to stalk everybody and — had it gone a different way — kills some folks, I’d have played a hand in that. So it’s tough to not say that that Achilles’ heel didn’t come back to bite Tyreese.”

While we were picking our jaws up off the floor, showrunner Scott Gimple was also out doing damage control in a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter. Gimple admitted there’s never a great time to take out a main character, but the writers felt this move was needed to push the group in a new direction (and rip the heart out of poor Sasha) as they grapple with how long they can retain their humanity in this world:

“There is never a right time; this was the time the story seemed to dictate. Not just for this episode but for the story moving forward. The cumulative effect of the last eight episodes and then this ninth episode, moving into next few, it's all a cumulative effect of who these people are and the circumstances they eventually find themselves in. It's weird to say, ‘This was the time’ because it's such a painful thing. It just seemed to be what the story dictated…

That one-two punch of losing Beth and Tyreese will absolutely affect them. I mean just Beth alone destroyed this group. While they're in a bad physical situation, they're in a bad mental situation that's making them question what the point of everything is. That is grinding them down to the ground. It's not making them better people; it's not making them people who necessarily are thinking about the future anymore. These two deaths are utterly defining to this group and are testing their will to live. Not formally, of course. It is affecting them in different ways. But it is crushing down on all of them.”

The episode was shocking, but beautifully handled. Tyreese, you will be missed. What did you think of the episode?

(Via TV Line, Hollywood Reporter)