Spoilers for the latest episode of "The Walking Dead," "Now," lie ahead.
Sunday night's (November 8) episode of "The Walking Dead" revealed some game-changing information. No, not the fate of Glenn (Steven Yeun) -- surely to many viewers' chagrin -- but we did find out that Maggie (Lauren Cohan) was pregnant, which is basically the last thing you'd want to be besides "out of contact solution" in the zombie apocalypse.
MTV News hopped on the phone with Aaron himself, Ross Marquand, to discuss what went down behind-the-scenes of Aaron and Maggie's cathartic walk through the sewers, Glenn's fate, and the current status of Alexandria.
MTV: It was cool seeing you bond with someone who isn't Daryl. What was behind the decision to pair off Aaron and Maggie?
Ross Marquand: Aaron, Maggie and Sasha were the first ones that met up in the first episode that I was in, where I come out of the woods with my hands up and say "stranger danger." So they’ve certainly known Aaron the longest... we haven’t seen them on screen together much since they first met, so we wanted to establish that they had become friends and become allies for each other during all the crazy madness that ensued when Pete was killed, and obviously, of course, the Wolf attack. I think they’re really great window characters for each other, because they are both incredibly kind-hearted and good intentioned, but they’re also very pragmatic, they’re more than willing to do what’s necessary to take care of their own and to protect each other. So I think it just kind of makes sense that the two of them see this pain in one another and say "Listen, let’s go out and do something about this."
MTV: How did you get yourself to that dark, emotional place, when Maggie and Aaron both shared their secrets?
Marquand: We were shooting like crazy. That episode was so packed; we were trying to get as much as we could for the edit, and we were shooting in this makeshift sewer system that they had constructed from scratch. This massive, byzantine loop that was going around the length of the sound stage. And were in this thing for 12, 14 hours, and by the end of the day we were finally doing that big speech. It was nice, because we were physically exhausted, we were just shooting all day and all week long hours, and finally when she broke down and said it, I felt it.
... And I think when Aaron hears this news, he's so overwhelmed. It's bittersweet, heartbreaking news, of course, it’s going to be so difficult to raise a child in this apocalypse world. I think the only thing he can do is comfort her with a hug, there’s not even anything you can say at this point.
MTV: A lot of the episode focused on whether or not Alexandria can still succeed. Do you think it has a chance?
Marquand: I think it can, because -- finally -- even the most passive of the Alexandrians are waking up to the fact that this is a community that can’t just sustain itself by good intentions alone. You have to fight for what you want, and fight to protect the community, so if they’re going to be successful at all they have to go out and be more proactive.
MTV: Does that mean the fractured Alexandria plot line is over? Will everyone more or less unite and get behind Rick to take on the Wolves from now on?
Marquand: Yeah, it’s going to galvanize everyone’s spirit. The time for everyone to fight or argue has kind of passed. Whether or not they believed in Rick’s plan to begin with, or whether or not they think it worked out -- some people, of course, are very divided on the plan, and now of course they have a whole hoard of zombies around their gate -- a lot of them are thinking, "Well, that didn’t work out too well."
But at the same time, I think most Alexandrians recognize what’s needed to be done, whether or not it worked out to full perfection is beside the point... All of them are going to have to pony up now. If they are going to protect this community they need to learn to fight and use guns and knives, and that’s certainly going to be explored more as the episodes go on this year.
MTV: What was it like working with those gnarly sewer walkers? That's the grossest Greg Nicotero creation we've seen so far this season.
Marquand: That was, I think, on par with the Well Walker... this show just consistently finds ways to gross us out.
What blows me away is that sometimes people forget that’s a real person under those costumes, and all that makeup. The poor guys in that sewer system with us, they’re basically in a body suit covered in layers of latex, and it doesn’t really provide you a lot of warmth. So these guys are submerged in water up to a minute before we roll, and they come out of the water just looking hideous... you’re being pulled under that water, and it’s not heated by any means. And take after take they brought it, even when I killed one of the main walkers... he had to keep himself underwater for almost a minute after I killed him, cause he needs to appear truly dead. I was just blown away by his physical control of his body, and his patience with that scene.
MTV: Was it tough for you and Lauren as well? Filming in a sewer, fake or not, doesn't look fun.
Marquand: Yeah, there’s no avoiding that. They wanted it to look like a real sewer, and as soon as Lauren and I walked in there, we were like, "My God, it looks just like the real thing." What they put inside the sewage to make it look very real for us was paint chips, oatmeal, ground up candy bars, and I think egg yolks. All kind of ground up, because they wanted to have that thick-viscous quality to it. It was absolutely disgusting walking through it; every take I was like "I can’t believe this is happening."
MTV: What episode are you guys working on right now?
Marquand: Next week we’re shooting the season finale.
MTV: So does the pace stay as consistent as it has been, or does the second half of the season play with form a little bit -- like in Season 4, when the second half had all of the Grimes Gang paired off for stand-alone-ish episodes?
Marquand: The pacing is only going to ramp up. I think the breather episode was the one you just saw, with Morgan... Now that the breather episode is done, everything else is ramped up now. Its back to war time, and it just gets more and more brutal as the season goes on, culminating in the darkest episode I’ve ever read in my life in the finale.
MTV: Does this mean Negan is on his way? There have been plenty of casting rumors over the past few days.
Marquand: Truthfully I can’t speak to that, because I don’t know about that. I've read the comics now to a certain point, and I think that Negan is an incredible character. I put him on par with The Joker; he has this sort of psychotic nature, he's funny and charming and absolutely psychopathic. But I can’t really speak to that, I’m not sure if he’s going to make an appearance this year. But if he does I’m going to be as excited as everyone else.
MTV: What's it been like, being in the center-ish of all of this Glenn-mania over the past few weeks?
Marquand: My parents, right after the episode, they called me... And they were like, "Is he really dead? He’s not really dead, right?" And I’m like, "I can’t tell you! You’re just going to have to keep watching!"
It’s really amazing to see how passionate everyone has been... I think it says a lot about how much we care about these characters. Of the original Atlanta five, Glenn was one of the most beloved, so of course he’s going to be talked about and discussed on every forum imaginable.
MTV: Why were only Glenn and Nicholas' names on that wall? Shouldn't Daryl, Abraham and Sasha have been on there, too? No one has heard from them, either.
Marquand: I think for so many people who last saw Nicholas and Glenn, they just thought it was a hopeless situation. Certainly Michonne and some of the Alexandrians did get back safely, but there were so many walkers in that episode that I think people are just assuming the worst. But Aaron and Maggie don’t. And that’s the great thing about this show, is that despite all of the horrible tragic things that happen to these characters, they still maintain this hope and optimism... That’s a beautiful moment between the two of them. They’re both clearly in pain, and just want to get back to their loved ones and bring back their friends, but they want to also maintain their humanity. I think that’s wonderful.
MTV: What's coming up for Aaron?
Marquand: There’s several Aaron things [coming up] that also include Rick's group that I’m so excited for the fans to see. This is a very action-heavy season... Nothing is what it seems, and alliances are going to become in question, leadership is going to become in question, and it’s just going to be a matter of everyone doing their best in to defend this community that has sustained itself for so long.