"The Walking Dead" had a big Season 5 premiere, bringing in the best ratings in series history, as fans watched Rick Grimes and his gang break out of Terminus.
There were plenty of big surprises in the episode, but one character was missing -- Emily Kinney's Beth Greene.
Don't worry, though, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd confirmed that the young woman will return before the show wraps for the first half of Season 5.
"I can assure you that in the first half of the new season, you'll get a clearer picture of where she is and what kind of danger Ã¢â¬â if any -- she faces," Gale told Access Hollywood.
Gale also dropped hints about how Andrew Lincoln's character, Rick Grimes, is handling things following his Terminus exit. Access also asked her about bringing back Robin Lord Taylor (now of "Gotham") for a brief Season 5 premiere cameo, and reuniting Carol and Daryl.
AccessHollywood.com: You brought back Robin Lord Taylor (now of 'Gotham') in the premiere. Ã¢â¬Â¦ And then you killed him -- you sliced his throat. How did you guys make that happen? Did you always know you wanted to bring him back?
Gale Anne Hurd: It's so funny isn't it? And it turns out he's got a nice new big gig as well. Ã¢â¬Â¦. So yeah, that's something thatÃ¢â¬Â¦ the first details of the first episode weren't completely clear until the writers' room met again at the beginning of this year, so when we realized we needed him, luckily he was available. Ã¢â¬Â¦ It was great to see him and we were able to congratulate him on his new gig.
Access: You started and ended the episode with the people from Terminus and we kind of got to understand who they wereÃ¢â¬Â¦
Gale: And why they were.
Access: Was that to sort of to close the book on that chapter and that story is over?
Gale: The thing is, as long as anyone is still alive, they're going to pose a threat, so you know, I wouldn't rule anything out.
Access: Rick only shot Gareth in the arm. It didn't look like he got a fatal blow, is what I'm taking from that.
Gale: There you go. Who knows?
Access: In that episode, Carol went up against Gareth's mother in the Terminus memorial room. Was that kind of to show that Carol -- even though she did what she did -- hadn't gone as far as that?
Gale: I think there were a number of reasons for the scene. One is that you have two deeply committed people who have separate ideologies, and have also justified to themselves their actions, meeting up and fighting, essentially to the death. They're both incredibly strong, not in a MMA kind of way, but strength of character and commitment.
Access: Did Carol need to commit that many heroics to get back into the group? Or do you think something simpler could have got her back in?
Gale: I think ultimately the most important thing was forgiveness from Tyreese. I think that's what mattered to her most, ultimately. Beyond that, I think she's a character who -- she still wants to be of use, she still believes she has a role, but she also, I think, still feels somewhat estranged.
Access: Daryl and Carol embracing... What did it mean for those two characters to see each other again?
Gale: You know, there's a bond there. Obviously a lot of the fans feel very strongly about their connection and so do the characters themselves. They both feel like they're outsiders, they both have a history of abuse from family members and I think there's a bond between them that they trust each other and they have so much that they shareÃ¢â¬Â¦ a lot of which goes unspoken.
Access: The gang had to pull Rick back at the end of that episode. He obviously wanted to go and kill everybody from Terminus. Is that something we need to be worrying about with Rick this season -- how far he's going to go for things?
Gale: Rick's journey to me is one of the most fascinating as a character. I think he's trying to figure out, not only what his role is, but how, you know, he's tried total pacifism to maintain his humanity and to be a good role model for Carl, and farming just didn't quite work out for him. And then obviously, he had to use the only tool Ã¢â¬â the only weapon he had at hand when they were captured by the vicious gang that Daryl had allied himself with.
Access: The claimers.
Gale: Yeah, absolutely. At that point, it was his teeth. So I think he's come to accept that finally, that the rules have changed completely -- that you have to do some things to remain alive that would have been inconceivable in the civilized world, pre-zombie apocalypse. But he's still trying to find that balance of maintaining his humanity [and] making sure that Carl maintains his when all those rules are thrown out the window.
Access: Finally, let me ask you, what are some of the goals or some of the themes we are going to be able to look at this season?
Gale: The one theme that I think is exemplified by what we just talked about in Rick's journey is how far you go, what kind of 'evil' acts can you commit and still maintain your humanity before you go too far? How do you keep yourself from becoming the monster that The Governor became? He tried to reform himself, didn't quite work out, and in this new world is it possible to have any limits? Is it possible to maintain your humanity, and can you sustain hope?
"The Walking Dead" continues Sunday night at 9 PM ET/PT on AMC.
-- Jolie Lash