Exclusive Karen Talks Shockingwalking Deadtwist
Caution: Spoilers ahead.
If there's one thing we've learned from 'The Walking Dead,' it's that no one is safe from the living dead. And the writers have sacrificed yet another character with the shocking death of Karen, whose budding romance with Tyreese was just beginning to take off.
After setting up the flu outbreak at the end of episode 1 and the chaos that it created within the prison — think 'Contagion' but with zombies — things definitely didn't look good for Karen after catching a serious case of the sniffles.
What we weren't expecting was her very violent and crispy demise. At the end of the episode, Tyreese follows an ominous trail of blood that leads to her smoldering corpse lying out in the courtyard. Of course, we don't exactly know the circumstances of her death or who the second corpse next to her might be.
With those questions in mind, MTV News contacted Melissa Ponzio, who also plays Melissa McCall on MTV's 'Teen Wolf,' to talk about her time on the show, her character's untimely demise, what it means for Tyreese, and what exactly happened to her 'son' Noah (whom, if you remember, the Governor forced into his militia even though he had asthma).
MTV News : When did you find out that Karen wasn't going to make it to the end of episode 2? How did the writers break it to you?
Ponzio : I found out in the most respectful way. It was in a private meeting and they told me first before any of the cast knew. There were key people that knew, but they actually held the script until they were able to tell me, then they were going to release it. That first day was great because everybody was, like, back to school and we were all saying how great the season was going to be. They were like, 'We're going to have so much time together' and I'm like, 'Not as much as you think.' I was the first one to know.
Then once the rest of the cast found out, then it was just like everybody was coming up. It was a bit of a slow death. They come up and they're like, 'Aw man, so sorry.' I was reminded by a friend recently that we're all storytellers and sometimes the stories that we tell are not the happy ones. So there you go. Sometimes stories end poorly, just saying.
MTV News : What were the discussions like with the cast and crew when they found out, especially Chad Coleman?
Ponzio : I think it was that first introduction of, you guys are going to be together on the show and then it was not so very long. So we had that kind of moment of, 'Hey, this is going to be great.' And then it was, 'Oh it's going to be short.' So both of us were together and we talked about it and we were both really committed to making it count. Her death matters to Chad, to the story, to the community as a whole. There's a real reason behind it. It wasn't just a disposable kind of one-off. It means something. As an actor that's the most that you can hope for, not only being part of a story, but being part of a story that matters. [A story] that propels everyone else in a direction that you wouldn't be going if you didn't have your part of the story happen, whether it be good or bad.
MTV News : Your death has a real impact.
Ponzio : It does.
MTV News : Do you know what happens after?
Ponzio : No. I'm one of those people — I don't read the scripts even if they're offered to me because for me and my character, I try to be as living as possible. So I shouldn't have bits of news that I wouldn't know. And once you're dead, you're dead.
MTV News : Karen has gone through so much surviving Woodbury, the governor, starting to find a life with Tyreese at the prison. Was it sad to see her end in such a terrible way?
Ponzio : I hope that it's not sad for people to see how Karen ends because I think that it's such a huge part of the story for the entire season. Especially for the character Tyreese, who is a huge figure in the comic books, and this propels his storyline and changes his trajectory, I think, as a human being living in the apocalypse. The fact that two people could find one another and have any kind of happiness even for a short amount of time is so hopeful and so lovely. And then for it to be snatched away in the way that it is — I hope snaps the audience into the reality of no one is safe. Ever.
MTV News : What happens to Tyreese? He's such a sensitive soul. Even during tough times. Does this have a profound impact on him going forward? What does it mean for the rest of the season?
Ponzio : I do believe this had a profound impact on Tyreese and his character. We've kind of seen him as someone that's conflicted in the time of the zombie apocalypse. He doesn't really want to fight them. The premiere episode, that was distinct. He didn't want to go out there. He wanted to be back at the prison. He didn't like to kill them on the fences. I, on the other hand, didn't have any problem killing anyone on the fences, so that was a lot of fun. Sometimes in times of horrific nature in your life, it scars you; it changes you; it makes you possibly better. It turns you to a different light and I think that we see all of that. We see all of that this season. Or maybe some darkness. Just a little darkness.
MTV News : Are we going to find out who set the fire? How does that impact the rest of the season?
Ponzio : Well, the fire was hot, I can tell you that. Again, I don't read the scripts.
MTV News :What happened to Noah? Can we assume that he didn't survive Woodbury and the governor?
Ponzio : Yeah. Noah got it. Noah is commonly referred to as 'asthma boy' and a lot of people thought that asthma boy was my son. But Laurie Holden and I had this whole backstory that he wasn't my son, it was more that maybe Karen had been a schoolteacher close to Woodbury. So I knew a lot of the kids and that Noah was one of my students. When he was pulled to be one of the governor's raunchy army guys I was sticking up for him because I knew that the governor was marching him straight into death. And he did. And he's dead. I know, it's harsh.
MTV News :What are you going to miss most about being on the show?
Ponzio : I'm going to miss the crew, and the cast, and the stories that we tell on that show. To be here on 'Teen Wolf' with an amazing cast and crew. I'm very lucky to be a part of two amazing shows that have two amazing sets of audience members. Not just members, but people that tune in every single week. That's what I'll miss. I'll miss the camaraderie.