The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live: Lesley-Ann Brandt and Terry O’Quinn talk finale’s biggest twists

Terry O'Quinn on The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.
Terry O’Quinn played The Walking Dead universe’s biggest villain. Pic credit: AMC/Gene Page

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live’s series finale brought many things full circle.

Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) journey has been filled with significant developments. Still, nothing could prepare them for the Echelon Briefing and what General Beale (Terry O’Quinn) and his army had planned for the rest of the world.

Knowing they needed to save everyone, Rick and Michonne embarked on a devastating mission to take down Beale’s army and protect other communities.

That meant the good guys won this final battle but is happiness on the horizon?

Monsters and Critics got to chat with Lesley-Ann Brandt and Terry O’Quinn about the big conclusion.

Monsters and Critics: Starting with Lesley-Ann, could you both discuss your reaction when you heard how the show would end?

Lesley-Ann Brandt: I loved it. I thought it gave the fans a good conclusion. I’m sure some people would say, ‘I wanted more of this,’ but ultimately, they did what they set out to do: tell a love story.

The series showed where Rick Grimes went, what he went through, who he met, what he experienced, and how Michonne tried to find him and ultimately reunited the family.

I think that’s what fans wanted. I thought they did a great job.

Terry O’Quinn: I don’t have a sharp recollection of reading the whole episode because Scott Gimple told me that I was going to be doing a lot of talking and explaining the whole plan, and I said, ‘Well, send me all those words, send them to me as far in advance as you can.’

My character’s story stands pretty much alone. I mean, he’s there for a purpose. He comes in, describes his plans, and gets killed. And then he’s a walker, which I didn’t know initially.

Scott sprung that on me. I was like, ‘Hey, am I going to get zombified?’ But he did, and that was alright.

Not being familiar with the whole history of The Walking Dead, I was able to approach it as a standalone experience. Beale explained his plan perfectly well, whether you endorse it or not. It was cold, but it was logical.

Monsters and Critics: Beale’s scenes, in particular, were so powerful because they filled in all of these blanks we’ve had about The Walking Dead universe. So, hearing his mindset and how it informed these decisions was interesting.

Terry O’Quinn: I’m glad. I thought it was an interesting story, and when I looked at and learned those lines, I thought it was going to be a half-hour’s worth of talking. It went by pretty quickly. They may have cut some; I don’t remember.

Monsters and Critics: Terry, going into the episode, I figured the only way for Rick to take Beale out would be with the element of surprise. Do you think there was any way Beale would have made a different decision about Rick’s return had the attack not been planned for that day?

Terry O’Quinn: Perhaps he was motivated to do that because the threat was immediate. And when would he get another opportunity to be alone with Beale?

I don’t think he had a choice once Beale described what was happening and what would happen. I think Rick had to do what he did.

Monsters and Critics: Lesley-Ann, Thorne has been skeptical of Rick for much of the series, and I feel like she let many red flags slide. Do you think the thought that she could mold him into this person would put the CRM first?

Lesley-Ann Brandt: I don’t think that she could mold him. There are only six episodes, and I was only in three of them, so it’s a very short amount of time, and by the end of it, she’s distraught with him.

A lot of change happens in a short time. I don’t think she saw herself as molding him. They’ve been together for years. It doesn’t necessarily feel like that because there are not multiple seasons of this show, but during those years, he had bought into this new family that Okafor had brought together.

I think that with his death, she is a little lost. Perhaps because she is from a military background and was a soldier, as opposed to the leader that Okafor is. And you do see the faults in her as a leader in episode three. She’s just an easier follower, and that’s maybe why Beale gave her the Echelon Briefing before Rick.

Maybe she’s more moldable, whereas I’ve always thought of Rick Grimes as this wild sort of horse that you pull on one thread, and it can just unravel. Dana was that thread. Michonne was that thread.

Monsters and Critics: Thorne realizes that Rick has been lying to her. We can see the shock on her face, but it also looks like she had this sneaking suspicion that this might happen. Instead of sounding the alarm, we see her trying to track Rick down. Why do you think she wanted to track him down instead of getting other people involved in this search?

Lesley-Ann Brandt: She knows that they would probably just kill him, and I think the history there, and there’s a hope that she could either, I don’t know, appeal to them, or he would tell her the truth or plead his case. I wondered how she would have responded if he had just been honest with her from the beginning because that interview scene with Michonne is what Thorne would have gone through; being an A and someone like her, she would have had to pretend she was a B.

And so, I think it’s a trust thing. I think parts of the Rick Grimes character that everyone loves, he hasn’t shown her all sides of him, and that’s just purely out of protection for Alexandria and his family. As the actress, I understand that. As the character, I think it feels like a deep betrayal of what she assumes is a friendship spanning years.

And so there’s a knee-jerk reaction to that betrayal, to finding out something’s happening, then realizing Michonne is who she is, and ultimately trying to stop them when the explosions occur, and she’s fighting both of them. There’s just a deep feeling that she’s about to lose another life.

She lost her life in Cape Town. She built this life, and she’s about to lose another life, and then that’s a very selfish thing for her, but taking out Michonne and when she says loves dead like, it’s really her commenting on how she gave up, and they didn’t, and that’s a hard pill to swallow that you’re wrong.

And I think that’s why she gives him the mask in the end, which was something I actually added in. I think she realizes this is it now. So if you can be happy, be happy. If you can survive what you’ve just done, what’s happened, all these walkers, then go. How long that lasts for, I don’t know, but go.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live has concluded on AMC. All episodes are available to stream on AMC+.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments