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Walking Dead

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead has never been known to pull punches, so why should the midseason finale be any different? It won't be.

"Coda," the episode airing Sunday, Nov. 30 on AMC, will require two things, according to executive producer Gale Anne Hurd.

"I would say make sure that you have a seatbelt on your couch and a lot of tissues handy," Hurd told E! News.

Gulp.

The fifth season of The Walking Dead has seen the ragtag group of survivors reunite, split up and then embark on a mission to rescue two of their own from a hospital run by Dawn Lerner (Christine Woods), a (slightly unhinged) police officer in Atlanta. When we last saw Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) & Co. they had captured a number of the officers and were hoping to make a trade—the officers for Carol (Melissa McBride) and Beth (Emily Kinney). But then Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) let her guard down and was attacked and an officer went free, throwing a whole wrench into the hopefully peaceful plan. Something tells us this is going to be a midseason finale for the record books and that something is Gale Anne Hurd.

Walking Dead

Gene Page/AMC

How would you describe the midseason finale?
I would say it is heartbreaking. It is, I think, completely unexpected and a fantastic way to end the midseason.

I am now even more excited and nervous.
[Laughs.] You should be!

Besides those descriptors, are there any three words that come to mind when you think about it?
Kickass, but totally heartbreaking. Kickass being one word. I guess that's four words, sorry!

In terms of storytelling, what are the goals for of the second half of the season?
I think the goal is to continue the theme of the first season, really, which is an in-depth examination of each character in our band of survivors and where they find themselves emotionally given the acts they've had to commit to survive.

Walking Dead

Gene Page/AMC

Will we see characters, like Michonne, who've been a little bit more in the background this season come more into the spotlight?
Oh, yeah. Oh, yes. The great thing in having 16 episodes is that we really do have an opportunity to catch up with each of our cast members.

Reviews for this year have been overwhelmingly positive. In the past it's been mixed. What do you think clicked?
I'd like to think the people that were dissing the show are finally watching it. [Laughs.] But I also think we jumped out of the starting gate with Greg Nicotero's episode, the premiere episode of the season, in a way that no one could have expected. I think they feeling was we would be at Terminus for a while and we'd really play out all the possible Terminus stories and we didn't. Not only did we defy expectations, but we also had not only a sort of family reunion, but we got to see—even in the first episode—true evolutions of the characters. We got to see Rick re-embracing his leadership mantle, we got to see Carol as the savior of the group and we got to see elements of a different group of survivors and how they became cannibals and why. It's really a lot to cram into a one-hour episode.

I think it clicked on all cylinders and yet it set up a new mystery, which is what is going on with Father Gabriel and the loss of Bob and how that affects everyone and setting up a new journey, so that they weren't really cooling their heels in one particular place. The split up of the group with Abraham dead set on his mission to get Eugene to Washington, DC.

Walking Dead

Frank Ockenfels/AMC

You mentioned Carol and I think she's had a tremendous season. Melissa McBride has been turning in a phenomenal performance. Did you expect this when she was in the first season? That this character would become the heart and soul of the show?
Knowing Melissa McBride and just what she's capable of as an actor, both in terms of her accessibility and irregardless of what it is she does, it's impossible not to like her. Those are the kinds of actors—same thing with Andy Lincoln as Rick and Norman Reedus as Daryl—they can go pretty far and do some pretty despicable things, yet you can relate to them. You can accept what they've done and why they've done it. So it's not surprising to me that all three of these characters have really popped.

In terms of what we've seen this season so far, what are you most proud of?
I think I'm really proud of the fact that the show going into its fifth season when a lot of other shows are limping along or jumping the shark, we've actually hit our stride. And I think that's a truly remarkable achievement and I attribute it to a truly fantastic showrunner and writing team, and our terrific cast and crew. No one is phoning it in, that tends to happen at a certain point, and yet everyone keeps the performances fresh and everyone is continuing to fire on all cylinders.

Do you think that can be attribute to the nature of the show where anything can really happen?
No, I don't. I absolutely don't and people keep saying that, but the truth is it doesn't matter because a lot of people at this point would say, "Get me off this show. I'm tired of playing this character, I need something new." It's sort of like somebody who's been doing the same role on Broadway for 100 performances. I think it's the fact that the scripts are really strong and the characters evolve. The actors don't have to play the same characters that they played the first season for whatever season they joined. They're all evolving in unique and compelling ways.

Earlier this year there was discussion about bringing a gay, male character on the show. Have we met him yet?
I can't talk about that.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays, 9 p.m. on AMC. After the November 30 episode, new episodes return Sunday, Feb. 8.

PHOTOS: Check out The Walking Dead cast in and out of (dirty!) costume