The Walking Dead star Cooper Andrews explains the casual interaction between his character, Jerry, and former antagonist Negan during season 11, episode 17. Andrews has portrayed Jerry since The Walking Dead season 7, acting as the laid-back right hand of the Kingdom’s King Ezekiel. He fought bravely against Negan’s group, the Saviors, during season 8, sticking by Ezekiel’s side during the hardest parts of the war. Later, he accompanied the former king to Alexandria after the Kingdom was deemed too unstable to house the group any longer.
Jerry has remained a key survivor since his arrival in Alexandria, later migrating to the Commonwealth after Ezekiel settles down there for cancer treatment – and to raise animals in a petting zoo. While Jerry hasn’t played a major role in much of The Walking Dead season 11 so far, he did have a short interaction with Negan in episode 17. The reformed Negan was allowed into the Commonwealth by Mercer, after which he runs into Jerry casually watching the Commonwealth citizens protesting against Governor Pamela Milton. Jerry speaks calmly with Negan, acting as if the two of them are familiar friends instead of the enemies they’d been eight years prior in The Walking Dead’s timeline.
In a Q&A with AMC, The Walking Dead actor Cooper Andrews reveals why Jerry behaved so casually while speaking to Negan in episode 17. Andrews explains that, while Negan had been an enemy to his people in the Kingdom long ago, his proven reformation gives Jerry the justification he needs to let go of his past anger. Check out what Andrews has to say below:
I always thought of Jerry as an animal, as a dog, as someone who can just sense things. But beyond that, Carol trusted Negan to do this thing and Jerry’s always trusted Carol. Jerry trusts his friends. With Negan, as far as Jerry’s concerned, he did his time, despite what happened. In a world like this, you have to be able to change. What’s the point of keeping a guy we can’t trust? So, Jerry’s very much like ‘why hold onto that when it won’t help anything?’ I really did think about it long and hard when Jerry greets Negan. It’s like, ‘What is their relationship?’ Jerry wasn’t at that line up [when Negan killed Glenn and Abraham], so he knows what happened, but it’s not etched into his memory. The people that did the stuff to the Kingdom, they’re dead. They dealt with it. I think Jerry’s smart enough to know that every little thing can’t be blamed on one person, and I think, maybe in a healthy or unhealthy way, that’s how Jerry deals with things. But, yeah, it was a long thought, like, ‘What is Jerry’s relationship to this guy?’ I saw this apple and I grabbed it and started eating it. Greg was like, ‘You’re eating an apple during this protest?’ I was like, ‘It’s not my protest.’ Jeffrey [Dean Morgan] was like, ‘Oh, I love that.’ It was fun. I enjoyed shooting those scenes with Jeff.
Jerry’s newfound trust in Negan indicates that, despite everything he’s been through, Jerry is still able to see the good in even the most formerly-evil of survivors. It appears that his concern for danger will be shifting to zombies now, as Jerry recently encountered a Walker variant that almost killed him using a rock. Additionally, Jerry also suffered a knee injury while traveling with Aaron, Lydia, and Elijah to Oceanside, which may keep him away from any action for a while. It’s unclear if Jerry survives the final season of The Walking Dead, as there’s been no word on the fates of survivors outside of Daryl, Maggie, and Negan, who will star in spinoff series after the parent show ends in November.
However, Jerry’s recent survival during the variant zombie’s attack points to the probability that he makes it out of the show alive. His chipper attitude may have been tested since his first appearance, but his positive conversation with Negan underscores how hard it can be to really tear him down. A joke Aaron cracks during The Walking Dead season 11, episode 19 may foreshadow Jerry leading his own version of the Kingdom, a possibly benevolent change of pace for The Walking Dead’s communities. While his presence in The Walking Dead universe will be missed when the flagship series ends, there is still hope that Jerry survives the current conflict with the Commonwealth and thrives on his own terms.