Warning! “Walking Dead” spoilers below.
The latest episode of the series, “Squeeze,” ended on a devastating note as the fates of Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Magna (Nadia Hilker) are up in the air following a cave collapse. However, for many fans, that’s probably not even close to the most shocking moment.
In a scene that’s not in the “Walking Dead” comics, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Alpha (Samantha Morton), the leader of the zombie-skin-wearing Whisperers, had sex in the woods while she wore her rotting flesh mask.
Like we said, we should’ve listened ...
How did we get here?
During the episode, Negan suggests to Alpha that Gamma (Thora Birch) is a spy in her camp. Naturally, the Whisperers’ leader then pushes him into a latrine full of poo, saying she doesn’t want him spreading paranoia.
Ah, flirting ...
Later, Alpha realizes that Negan is probably right about Gamma, singles him out and takes him away from the camp. She makes him turn around and take off his clothes, and it seems like it might be the end for Negan. Then, after seeing Alpha’s gotten naked too, Negan realizes it’s sexy time.
She says a crass man like Negan deserves a crass reward after telling her about Gamma, and the two proceed to have the weirdest sex scene.
Alpha’s mask stays on. Negan says it’s doing it for him.
Even Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s thirsty fans probably haven’t requested something this bizarre from the actor, so we jumped on the phone recently with the episode’s director, Michael Satrazemis, to ask all the questions.
Michael, can we talk about the Negan and Alpha sex scene?
When I read the script I went, “Oh, my God!” It’s this thing that’s going to break people visually, and then I went into how do I shoot this for its largest impact. I mean, it’s going to air on TV and do this nudity. But I’ve got to talk to Jeffrey and Samantha and convince them to allow me to shoot a certain way, and I just went, listen, if I break up my cuts, it’s the last cut, super-wide shot in profile. If they were naked, you wouldn’t see anything that you can’t air, and in the corner frame, in both corners on the bottom, you’ll see their piles of clothes. And that last cut will give it the most impact and really sell what’s happening for the viewers. I had to call them both up and explain to them that we’re not doing anything for the sake of nudity, but for the sake of impact and telling the story in its strongest point. And they both agreed that it was a great idea and agreed to do it as well.
I have so many questions with this. First of all, how bad did Negan smell in that moment? Didn’t he fall into a pile of poo earlier?
I know! ... And just to let you know we shot both of those scenes in the same day. I’ve been in this business for 27 years, maybe 28, I don’t want to know how long, but there’s not many new things. There’s not many scenes you haven’t been a part of, but being dropped into the lavatory and having sex in the same day, that’s the two scenes you shoot. That one was new for me. And it was for Jeffrey as well. Never, never done that.
I like to say that there’s enough time and distance, you know? I would also like to say the apocalypse probably really smells in general, so I would say that sense kind of gets a little bit extinguished in general, just because the Earth itself probably smells like decay.
That makes sense because next I was going to ask how bad their breath smells at this point.
[Laughs] You’re hitting all the fine points! Listen, I would’ve definitely wanted to know what’s up with the rotting mask. What is this decaying already dead person you’re wearing on your face, but, like Negan said, this is kind of doing it for him. I can’t get into the head of Negan. It’s unrelatable.
But I was really, really, really excited to shoot it. And I knew that both of them were gonna sell it. Jeffrey breaking even before he turns around, him breaking down was just such an amazing performance, and it was important to have Samantha as she’s walking away, right before she pivots, the last thing you see before the cut is her putting her hand on that gun, and you’re sure he’s going down. You’re sure this is the end. And that was the most important point to build it to so you had the contrast for when he turned around. It was really important to sell that he was walking to his death to really blow your mind when he turns around and finds that it’s quite the opposite.
There’s also a line where Negan asks Alpha if she’s like a praying mantis and will cut his head off after. And she doesn’t answer.
The dialogue in the scene is mind-blowing. When he takes just a pause, he sits there for a second waiting for the answer, says, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, I can’t help but notice you didn’t answer that question,” and then she doesn’t answer again, and he goes, “Heh, all right. I’ll take my chances.”
That line also seems to nod toward how Alpha kills her victims by taking off their heads.
Oh, yes it is. That’s why she makes him turn around and then undress and you are sure. ... It was her clean point of view slowly creeping closer to cut his head off because that’s what you assume is going to happen.
It ended up being a pretty powerful scene. Just amazing actors, and they had such great chemistry. It made me want to do a full down the rabbit hole Alpha and Negan episode.
And what do you think Beta (Ryan Hurst), who’s devoted to Alpha, would think about all of this?
Probably what the rest of the world thinks Beta is going to think of this. He’s not going to be a huge fan of any of this. How could he be? He has an undying love and servitude for Alpha. I’m sure he’s not very proud.
Lastly, also in the episode, fan favorite Jerry (Cooper Andrews) gets a zombie bite on his shoe. Just making sure he’s got strong boots on.
Yes, if anyone is in doubt about the brand and make of those boots, he’s got some solid boots. They took a little bit of damage. But I think if you’re looking for a pair of good solid work boots, you can really trust them.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.