The Walking Dead's Kevin Carroll On Virgil's Arc, His Future And Morgan Similarities

the walking dead virgil
(Image credit: amc press)

Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's "What We Become."

Certainly, The Walking Dead's episode "What We Become" will go down in series history for being the history-embracing swan song for star Danai Gurira, whose Michonne made a twist-loaded exit after nearly eight full seasons. In the shadow of that massive move came the full-fledged introduction to Kevin Carroll's highly traumatized character Virgil, who put Michonne through a few levels of Hell before she went on her quest to find Rick.

Considering Virgil stayed behind at the Naval base after properly burying his wife and children, it's hard to gauge what, if anything, to expect from the character in the future. CinemaBlend recently got some insight from Kevin Carroll himself via email about how he handled such a complex role in basically just one episode, as well as what the actor thinks about Virgil's future on the TV show.

On Virgil's Short-Lived Yet Complicated Story

Though he'd told Michonne that he would lead her to the kinds of weapons that would make short work of The Whisperers, Virgil was basically lying to get help in taking down the walkers that had overrun the base, which included his wife and children. He followed that up by drugging Michonne and keeping her hostage, because he thought she was in the same broken headspace that he was.

Here, Kevin Carroll talks about taking on the complexities of Virgil's role in just a single episode.

This is when having passionate writers and fellow cast members who know the world are helpful. They create an atmosphere where you can work on doing the best you can coming in, and provide an atmosphere of support as one finds the peaks, valleys and emotional nuggets in the moment. I found myself getting familiar with the world and was looking to soak up any clues I could get from the writer as we went along. The sense of support and trust, mixed with the quality of the journey, felt good knowing how quick the appearance was.

If only Virgil could have tapped into Michonne's head during her jimson weed trip, he would have a much better idea of what the rest of her group has gone through over the years. But then he probably would have seen her as more of a villain, not understanding that her visions were the antagonistic reverse of her real-life journey.

In that vein, I asked Kevin Carroll about his beliefs about Virgil, in terms of whether the character ended up being honest with Michonne after Rick's possessions were discovered. And his answer was mysterious and vague enough to keep that question open-ended.

Because I worked from information as it was presented in the script, I felt like I had to make decisions within the world. Meaning I couldn’t think about what, when or where things might happen in the future. This world for Virgil was about survival until he completed his mission. He needed to send his family into the next level of life with what they needed. That was first and foremost, and while doing that, some pieces on the chess board of life had to be moved.

Do Rick's boots and phone count as chess pieces in this respect? Or was he mainly referring to turning himself into the aggressor in order to get Michonne to following along with his requests?

On Virgil's Similarities To Morgan Jones

In the scheme of things, Virgil's introduction played out quite similar to the early story arc for Lennie James' Morgan Jones, who met Rick after having lost his wife, whom he wasn't able to bring himself to put down. Later in the series, it was revealed that his son had also died, which is when Morgan went off the deep end (or the "clear" end, as it were) and posed as a certifiable threat to Rick, though he eventually came around and, minus a mental hitch here or there, he became a true hero before moving on to Fear the Walking Dead.

I asked Kevin Carroll whether there were conversations about Virgil's similarities to Morgan, or whether I was extracting too much out of mere coincidences. Here's how he put it:

Those are great reads into this, but there wouldn’t be a lot I could confirm or deny about the conversations. That’s a good Walking Dead eye, though.

Considering Kevin Carroll didn't bring up the idea of coincidences, perhaps fans can infer that Virgil was indeed a narrative catalyst for Michonne in the way that Morgan sparked a fire under Rick. Or maybe those particular conversations with writers and producers never happened at all.

On Virgil's Future In The Walking Dead

With Michonne having left her fellow boat-mates behind, leading to her presumably join that gigantic caravan of survivors seen at the end of the episode, the question remains whether or not Virgil could or will eventually return to the core communities for one reason or another. (Being lonely is as good a reason as any.) Here's what Kevin Carroll had to say on that front.

I think the notion of more Virgil might be a function of how well he connects to the collective. At this point, I’ll be watching to see if I get any clues as to which way to ‘walk’ as I see the rest of the season.

It wasn't 100% clear whether Kevin Carroll meant Virgil connecting to "the collective" in the sense of the show's audience or the show's character ensemble. I can't imagine viewers wouldn't welcome the Leftovers and Snowfall star into the story on a regular basis. However, the Alexandrians and Hilltop residents might not be so willing to trust Virgil after everything he did to Michonne, assuming they'd find out about the drug-laced hostage situation. Some of the protagonists might even have a problem with him being partially to blame for everything going kaput at the Naval base.

Would you guys want to see Kevin Carroll's Virgil returning to the The Walking Dead in Season 11? (Or maybe even in the Season 10 finale?) Let us know in the poll below.

The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET, with only two proper episodes left in Season 10, since the actual season finale had to be postponed due to post-production getting stalled out by the coronavirus lockdowns. Be sure to tune into Killing Eve when it takes over the time slot on April 5.

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.