Compared to the past few seasons of “The Walking Dead,” Season 9 has been a clean, minty, breath of fresh air, until now.
In Sunday’s episode, “Bounty,” Alpha (Samantha Morton), leader of the zombie-skin wearing Whisperers and Lydia’s (Cassady McClincy) abusive mom, demanded the Hilltop community give her her daughter back in exchange for two Hilltop hostages, Alden (Callan McAuliffe) and Luke (Dan Fogler). In the end, the trade gets made, but before it happens, Henry (Matt Lintz) tries to whisk away his new crush, Lydia, to escape. The pair get outside the Hilltop walls, but Enid (Katelyn Nacon) tracks them down and convinces the new boos to come back.
Before they have to leave each other, Lydia goes up to Henry and plants a big wet one on him. It seems like a touching moment between the characters, but all I could think was, “Ew. Her breath probably stinks.”
Let’s put this in perspective: Lydia, a Whisperer, has been wearing dead people’s skin and walking around in the wilderness for who knows how many years. She’s then captured by Hilltop, and we’ve really only seen her given a meager amount of water and medicine. Oh, and she eats a worm. Conclusion: Lydia’s breath is nuclear.
Henry and Lydia, I’m happy for you two. But gross, dudes.
I reached out to Henry himself, Matt Lintz, over email to get his take on the kiss, and he told me, “Well, [Henry’s] hygiene is not much better probably, so he’s probably more forgiving than a teen in 2019 might be.”
Lintz brings up a good point. While living life wandering around the woods in dead people’s skin probably isn’t the best way of preventing halitosis, the hygiene at Hilltop ain’t great either.
In the Season 6 episode, “The Next World,” Michonne (Danai Gurira) asks Rick (Andrew Lincoln) to bring her back some toothpaste from scavenging. Rick only manages to bring back mints, and Michonne is so happy the two hook up for the first time. That’s the state of dental health in “The Walking Dead”: Mints are an aphrodisiac.
Talking about the deteriorating hygiene in an apocalyptic world, Lintz said, “I’m sure at some point, the supply runs were void of toothpaste, so I am sure they’ve had to adapt in general. In reality, their hygiene would probably be worse than even depicted!”
So how bad are we talking?
I reached out to the American Dental Association to ask that question, and spokesperson Dr. Tricia Quartey gave some preventative advice: “Even if you can only grab a few things as you leave the house to run from zombies, please make sure to pack a toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste and something to use to clean between your teeth.”
My childhood dentist, Dr. David Mondock, was more blunt. Telling me about his views on dental hygiene during the apocalypse, he recalled a time during his residency in Washington, D.C., where a patient came into the ER with maggots crawling out of his mouth.
“The stench was so bad. I will never forget it. I was gagging for days. That’s how I picture it,” he said, adding, “Nasty maggot stench.”
Yep. Nasty maggot stench. That’s probably what we’re dealing with in the apocalypse, especially for people who’ve been walking around the woods for years ― i.e. welcome, Henry and Lydia, to the apoca-lips.
Besides hygiene, Lintz answered some of our other lingering questions, including previewing what a Henry/Lydia date might look like. Spoiler alert! It’d probably just be more of this:
Considering Lydia almost killed Henry with a hammer, why do you think he likes her so much?
Well, for one, Henry didn’t see the hammer himself, so I would say he tends to believe the best in people, a trait he gets from his father.
Also, it’s revealed that Daryl was watching that whole exchange and was just letting it all happen. As Henry, how do you feel about that?
I think he made it clear how he felt in the previous episode. Betrayed and disgusted.
Henry’s basically taken on a lot of the Carl comic storylines at this point. Are you worried about losing an eye or anything? Especially with Lydia around.
Ha! I should be, shouldn’t I. I think Angela Kang (the showrunner for Season 9) is doing a great job of borrowing the comic book storyline but adapting it to the characters she has to work with. But, it is the apocalypse, so anything can happen!
Before she goes back to her mom, Lydia kisses Henry. Enid seems pretty shocked by it. How did you handle that scene?
Well, funny you should mention that, as that scene was my first on-camera kiss. I think I’ll keep my feelings about that close to the vest!
There was a meme on Reddit the other day, saying Henry has a type when it comes to women and showing Enid eating a turtle and Lydia eating worms. Why does Henry tend to like people with such eccentric diets?
I think everyone at this point has eccentric taste in cuisine due to lack of it.
Keeping that in mind, what would a Henry/Lydia date look like in the apocalypse?
Gourmet worms, and candlelight and good conversation about psychotic parents!
A subplot in the episode is the group from the Kingdom fixing their projector for movie night. What movie would you want during movie night in the zombie apocalypse?
“Titanic.” It’s the ultimate date night movie.
Eventually, everyone dies on “Walking Dead.” If you could pick how Henry would go, what would you pick?
If he does go, I would expect he would take out a large quantity of zombies with his bo staff first!
In a recent interview, Cassady McClincy talked about how Norman Reedus may change the scenes sometimes. Has that ever happened with one of your scenes with him?
It has. Sometimes certain lines or stage directions don’t work as well in real life as they do on the page. Norman is good at reworking things so it does.
What can we expect from the rest of the season?
Great storytelling, love, and hope for a future world.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.