If the headline weren’t already an indication, spoilers for Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead are contained herein.
The Walking Dead’s doing a bit of housecleaning, it seems, as it shambles its way into yet another circuitous season of plodding action. Last night, for example, it dispatched the character that had been set up as a new leader in the wake of Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan’s departures from the show. That character? Jesus, the bearded badass who was first introduced in the series’ sixth season. He was stabbed in the back during an attack from the Whisperers—whispering zombies that aren’t actually zombies but humans in zombie disguises and, Christ, this goddamned show—leaving many of his storylines from the comic book series, where he lives on, untapped.
Tom Payne, the actor behind the beard, doesn’t sound all that miffed about it. In a new interview with Business Insider, Payne makes it fairly clear that he was bored on the series, which has a habit of introducing cool-ass characters, shuffling them aside in favor of rehashing the same old plots, then expecting you to care when they unceremoniously perish (see: Tyreese).
“I was kind of frustrated with what I had gotten to do on the show and I was kind of a bit bored with it,” Payne said. “If I wasn’t being given anything, I was kind of ready to go. And then when [showrunner] Angela [Kang] called me, I was quite chill about it. I was like, ‘Oh, OK. Great. Cool.’”
After all, it was either die in spectacular fashion or wither away in go-nowhere storylines at Hilltop like the majority of his castmates. Payne admitted that he’d rather “be part of a shocking moment on the show” than “hang around at the Hilltop for another few years.”
As he noted, there’s just too many damn characters. “‘We just need to kill some more people,’” he said he told the writers. “‘Just kill me.’” He added, “There are so many characters on the show that it’s difficult for everyone to get their spot and I completely understand that. So I was like, well, let’s just kill some more people.”
Honestly, that’s just about the best thing the show can do right now, what with the series trying to refashion itself under new showrunner Kang. Getting rid of Rick (sorta) is by far the best thing that could’ve happened, but the ranks need to be thinned (and thinned some more) if AMC’s flagship wants to sustain its encroaching march of content.