The Walking Dead Just Gender Swapped An Important Character

Spoiler alert for anyone who didn’t see The Walking Dead’s episode “Remember.”

When it comes to distancing itself from its comic book origin, The Walking Dead has done a fine job, with more than enough detail-fudging to make the larger recognizable arcs enjoyable all over again for readers. With tonight’s gamechanging new episode, Rick & Co. are now firmly settled in the Alexandria safe haven, and audiences got to see one of the biggest comic-to-TV changes yet with the introduction of Deanna Monroe, the female iteration of Alexandria leader Douglas Monroe. And this gender-swap changes everything.

A new-to-TV character like Daryl switches up storylines by having him do things that other characters did on the page, with some key comic roles getting excised to keep him relevant. In the case of Deanna, however, all the cards are off the table, as there’s almost no way for her arc to mirror Douglas’ in the least.

Portrayed by Emmy-nominated and Tony-nominated actress Tovah Feldshuh, Deanna comes across as a wise leader, having served in Congress before the zombie apocalypse hit. She seems to realize, as Aaron explained to Rick a couple of weeks ago, that a community is only as strong as the people who fill it, and she automatically trusts Rick and Michonne to serve as the law of the land, giving them jobs as constables. Of course, she doesn’t yet know that Rick would have no problem usurping the entire safe haven if anyone dares cross him too firmly.

the walking dead

That’s the one area where Deanna and Douglas’ arcs may cross paths. Rick and Douglas got along, but it was often a pissing match between the two, as Douglas was more interested in keeping face in front of his citizens and wooing women than listening to reason. He got weak, and his story heavily involves Andrea (who is still alive in the comic here), a loveless marriage, and son Spencer, with whom he has a tenuous relationship.

In contrast, Deanna mentions a husband, Reg, who was a professor of architecture, though we don’t see him or hear much else about him. (I’m guessing his story plays a big role in Deanna’s psychology.) She doesn’t seem to be interested in sleeping with any of the new men in town, or any of the other ones for that matter, so her libido likely won’t play a part in her story. And she seems to have a loving enough relationship with her son Aiden (Daniel Bonjour), although she isn’t angry when Glenn knocks the self-proclaimed douchebag on his ass. All in all, I’m as intrigued by Deanna as I am anyone that The Walking Dead has ever introduced us to, and I see her authoritative position playing a huge role in how Rick behaves for the next few weeks.

We probably shouldn’t expect Deanna to make any intentional nods to Douglas, either, as Feldshuh has kept herself in the dark where the comics are concerned. Speaking with EW about her knowledge of the gender swap, here’s what the actress had to say.

I knew it was a man but I didn’t want to read the comics because I don’t want to know if she dies and when she dies. Because I just assume I’ll be on this series for years to come. I want to have a long life on this series.

The best part of all this is, because Deanna won’t be getting into the same kinds of problems and tragedies that Douglas did, there’s a good enough chance Feldshuh will be around for years. Of course, she’s probably got her own skeleton-eating demons in her closet, and I’m guessing Pete will have a lot to do with getting some of those out in the open. I can’t wait.

How do you guys feel about the Douglas/Deanna switch?

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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.