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Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier - The Walking Dead _ Season 10 - Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/AMC Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier - The Walking Dead _ Season 10 - Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/AMC

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead Season 10B: Examining Carol’s Claustrophobia

Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/AMC

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Carol Peletier’s cave claustrophobia is a common fear for starting spelunkers and potentially a leftover of past emotional scars.

This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10B Premiere (“Squeeze”).

The combination of tears and sweat painted Carol’s face, body frozen in-place, allowing only a shriek of terror into the vast abyss that greeted her. It became clear on The Walking Dead’s latest episode that Carol’s achilles heel is being trapped in a confined space, the question is… What are the origins of the phobia? Scientifically speaking, there was an April 2013 study published on PubMed.gov (U.S. National Library of Medicine) linking a single gene defect to claustrophobia. A quick overview of the study’s abstract on the connection between ‘GPM6A’ gene expression and its connection to panic disorders:

“Gpm6a-deficient mice develop normally and lack obvious behavioral abnormalities. However, when mildly stressed by single-housing, these mice develop a striking claustrophobia-like phenotype, which is not inducible in wild-type controls, even by severe stress.

The human GPM6A gene is located on chromosome 4q32-q34, a region linked to panic disorder. We suggest that loosing dynamic regulation of neuronal GPM6A expression poses a genetic risk for claustrophobia.”

Theoretically, Carol’s claustrophobia might be hard-wired, programmed right into her very DNA. GPM6A-deficient mice in the study above went against their nature of preferring enclosed spaces to open areas. Typically, a mouse’s instinct is to hide at a sign of danger or stress. Instead, these GPM6A-deficient mice felt stress when forced into an enclosed space. KnowingNeurons.com‘s Anita Ram created an easy to follow visual illustration of the experiment and detailed analysis for those who wish to learn more about the study’s breakdown.

Thus, despite a valiant record of taking 1000s of walkers out of commission, experience in countless do-or-die situations, and even Daryl Dixon by her side… Carol’s troubles coping with a claustrophobic environment could be innate, genetic, rather than an emotionally born phobia.

Repeated Exposure as a ‘cure’ for Carol’s Claustrophobia

According to NHS UK (National Health Service UK), gradual repeated exposure is a successful treatment for claustrophobia.

Claustrophobia can be successfully treated and cured by gradually being exposed to the situation that causes your fear. This is known as desensitization or self-exposure therapy.

Daryl encouraging Carol to advance forward and face her fear was actually the right move. Whether it was the only move Carol could do in reality or not. Staying in-place and waiting for external help to assist her would be a reach under normal, non-apocalyptic circumstances. Forget being caught with Alpha’s Horde at bay. Even though Carol verbally stated that she couldn’t go through the cave, Daryl’s encouraging words made her escape possible. StartCaving.com recommends “focusing on your breathing” and “challenging the feeling”, which is just what Carol did.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier,  Ross Marquand as AaronLauren Ridloff as Connie, Angel Theory as Kelly, Nadia Hilker as Magna - The Walking Dead _ Season 10 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Ross Marquand as AaronLauren Ridloff as Connie, Angel Theory as Kelly, Nadia Hilker as Magna – The Walking Dead _ Season 10 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

The argument for Past Induced Trauma as cause

According to WebMD, the fear of enclosed spaces typically begins as a result of a traumatic childhood event including, “Bullying, Abuse, Being stuck in a tight place like an elevator.” Now, in Carol’s case the first thing that comes to mind is her poor treatment at Ed’s side. Could her fear of enclosed spaces have originated over the course of their marriage? It’s certainly possible.

However, it cannot be ignored that a traumatic event did befall Carol in her youth either. Perhaps, there’s still much more Walking Dead viewers don’t know about Carol. Just as Daryl has to piece together some of her unspoken background together, so does the audience.

It would be an excellent use of a flashback to showcase Carol’s past before Ed on The Walking Dead. Something that lends definite credibility to the emotionally charged phobia theory. Nevertheless, whatever the true reason is, Carol made it out of that cave in one piece. Yet, forced exposure of her fear by way of Alpha did not seem to cure her ailment in the least. Carol appeared to be on the verge of complete mental breakdown upon daylight bracing her shoulders.

Note: The lead photo of this article (Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/AMC) has had its contrast/brightness adjusted from the original for clearer site viewing.

Be sure to read Carol Peletier: A Mother’s Grief is Forever and more Walking Dead Season 10 coverage in The Walking Dead category section.

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Interviews

Nico Tortorella: ‘Younger was cute but I get to act again for real on TWD’ (Interview)

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Annet Mahendru as Huck, Nico Tortorella as Felix - The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC
Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

Nico Tortorella told The Natural Aristocrat that while ‘playing a version of myself’ as Josh on Younger was “cute” & “fun”, ‘I wasn’t being challenged as an actor’ like as Felix on the upcoming The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Embracing the darkness of Felix’s backstory, the horror genre is where Nico feels most comfortable as an actor.

The following question was asked by The Natural Aristocrat® during a press roundtable for The Walking Dead: World Beyond with Nico Tortorella, Annet Mahendru, and Julia Ormond.

Interview with Nico Tortorella:

The Natural Aristocrat : Nico, I watched you portray Josh on Younger, so I have to say the darkness of Felix’s backstory and your lines in The Walking Dead: World Beyond are quite a jarring departure.

On yesterday’s press day, Alexa Mansour (Hope) mentioned you’re always saying that ‘you’re the Rick Grimes of World Beyond’. What is it like going from romance as Josh on Younger to the brutal darkness of Felix on World Beyond? It’s quite a transition. I mean from MILF Hunter to Zombie Hunter!

Annet Mahendru: (laughs hard)

Nico Tortorella: MILF Hunter to Zombie Hunter! (laughs) Well, I’m actually more familiar with this genre than I am with the rom-com genre. I have been on Younger for a long time but that’s a 22-minute show with eight series regulars and I only work maybe one day a week, for a couple months of the year. But I mean if we’re talking Scream 4, Odd Thomas, The Following, I’m more used to the darkness.

As a person, I have no problem stepping into the darkness. I spend a lot of time there. I can face it quite regularly. This actually feels like a more comfortable genre for me than the rom-com. The rom-com was like a relief when it came because I’d been working in heavy material for so long.

It was like, ‘I don’t want to have to kill anyone or I don’t want to worry about being killed.’ Let me just go and be sweet & cute for a little bit… But as an actor that only goes so far! I’m not really challenged on Younger, I’m playing a version of myself and it’s fun, it’s cute but this… It’s like okay, I get to act again you know, for real!

I get to step into the darkness, and it’s somewhere where I’m actually comfortable.

Annet Mahendru as Huck, Nico Tortorella as Felix, Aliyah Royale as Iris – The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

Thanks Nico!

Thank you!

Annet Mahendru as Huck, Nico Tortorella as Felix, Julia Ormond as Elizabeth – The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

Be sure to watch Nico Tortorella as Felix on The Walking Dead: World Beyond series premiere over at AMC on Sunday, October 4 at 10 p.m. ET (9 PM Central).

– TWD fans, read a non-spoiler review of The Walking Dead Season 10 Finale and test out your trivia knowledge with Who wants to be a Carollionaire? – Carol Peletier Quiz and How well do you know Melissa McBride? Trivia Quiz

– Younger fans, be sure to read Will Liza say ‘I Do’ on Younger Season 7? on The Natural Aristocrat®!

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Better Call Saul

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez talks Better Call Saul’s Bagman (Interview)

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Gabriel 'G-Rod' Rodriguez as El Jefe and crew - Photo provided by Gabriel 'G-Rod' Rodriguez
Photo provided by Gabriel 'G-Rod' Rodriguez

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about playing an unknown cartel’s ‘El Jefe’ opposite a shivering Jimmy McGill in Better Call Saul’s iconic, 5-star “Bagman” desert shootout.

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez praised Better Call Saul’s co-creator Vince Gilligan as a visionary, with a sharp eye for the tiniest of details in our interview. Every second mattered in the Gilligan directed “Bagman”, featuring G-Rod’s crew abruptly stopping Jimmy’s $7 million-dollar sunswept, victory lap drive into a life-altering nightmare. For the first time on Better Call Saul, Jimmy’s silver tongue was unholstered to no effect. It shot blank, after blank, after blank. No word Jimmy could say was the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle.

G-Rod’s ‘Jefe’ saw the abogado as nothing more than collateral damage, signaling the universal ‘cut off his head’ motion after confirming the money was all there. G-Rod walked The Natural Aristocrat through the intricate foundations that made Bagman’s shootout unforgettable. The moment when Jimmy McGill had to pay steeply for the actions of Saul Goodman, lives interwoven irreparably forever.

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez gives signal as El Jefe to take out Jimmy McGill / Saul Goodman on Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 8 “Bagman” Screenshot Photo Credit: AMC

This interview contains spoilers for Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 8 (“Bagman”).

Interview with Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez on Better Call Saul:

The Natural Aristocrat : The shootout in “Bagman” is one of Better Call Saul’s greatest scenes. Arguably Top 2 alongside Jimmy’s speech to Kristy Esposito in my opinion. The entire moment has very little dialogue outside of Jimmy, building on explicit intimidation and chaotic silence. What was it like being the leader ‘Jefe’ of the scene?

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez: When I first got the call, I was so excited that the episode was going to be directed by Vince because he gets so invested in every single shot! All the details. That’s something that anyone who’s watched his work on Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad appreciates. I knew why they chose me for this role because they wanted to really dig in from all angles and provide the audience as much coverage as possible. So, that the audience could appreciate the intensity of the situation that Jimmy was in.

That’s why they wanted somebody with a stunt background, that had an action background. If you had to focus on not only providing that coverage and getting those angles that made that scene so intense, it would be that much more difficult to get an actor that you had a double. That way they could really just focus on Jimmy or Saul, I think it was Jimmy in that moment.

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez approaches Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) as El Jefe on Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 8 “Bagman” Screenshot Photo Credit: AMC

They opted for a stunt actor so they wouldn’t have to worry about those angles, they wanted someone who was going to sell the action, obviously safely. We were going to sell all the action safely. I knew going in when I read the script, I knew it was going to be intense and that Vince was going to go above and beyond. I was already visualizing from paper to the day that this thing was going to be very expensive. We were out there for two weeks, and I think that originally it was slated for around eight days.

At one point, the stunt coordinator Al , came up to me, “Hey Vince wants to get more of this. Would you mind sticking around for another 2-3 days?” I was like, “Let’s do it!” It ended up being two weeks out there in the scorching sun. (laughs) It’s so amazing the way Vince works, he wants to really dig into every single action. Vince told me, “I’m visualizing this guy really wants the money. He gets pissed off, goes this way, and then gets shot by Mike (Ehrmantraut).

Were you disappointed your character gets shot? I mean it was an amazing moment when you picked up the bags but also the Jefe’s exit from the series.

I loved everything about the scene! Of course, I would have loved to have lived through maybe a couple more episodes but I knew what we had to do. I knew what Vince was trying to get across. When I get sniped while running off with the money, it was funny because Vince was like “G-Rod you’re going to run this way, you’re thinking damn it, I want to leave with this money! And then you get sniped here.”

I kind of showed him how I would lay into my death, and he goes, “Yeah but you really want that money! You’re not letting go of that money, you’re hanging on to that money with your hands into your death.” Me and the stunt coordinator looked at each other for this five second moment, looking back at each other, then back at Vince. Because I knew what he was getting at. He wanted me to keep my hands on the money bags and then face-plant on concrete, on pavement.

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez as El Jefe attempts to run away with the Money Bags – Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 8 “Bagman” – GIF Credit via AMC

Did that hurt?

Oh yeah, I had to do it a total of nine to ten times. If you look at it, that’s a little dirt sprinkled on top of actual concrete pavement. Under the scorching sun, 110 degrees, whatever it was. So he looks at us and says, “Can you make this happen?” And we both go, “No problem!” (laughs) I knew what was coming! If you’re doing stunt work, it’s not going to be one take typically unless it’s going to be a hard reset where you’re going to swap in a whole vehicle or something like.

Vince told me, “I really want to feel that life steps outside of that body suddenly, and then you face-plant.” I had to really use that core strength to sell it while staying safe. To make things more complicated, Vince wanted me to land facing a certain way so the camera could capture my face, “There’s a tattoo I want the audience to see on your neck.” Think about it, you’re ‘dying’ and you have to really focus on all these intricacies. (laughs) Vince said, “Oh by the way, I don’t want your leg to land twice on the bag. I want the bags free and clear of your leg!” I was like, “Okay, got it!” (laughs)

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez as El Jefe takes Car Key from Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman – Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 8 “Bagman” – GIF Credit via AMC

That sounds like hyper-attention to detail!

Oh it’s incredible! He is unbelievable and he is thinking of every single detail. It’s funny on one take, they were aware that I was deathly scared of tarantulas. And they were out there, they actually caught one. Word got to Vince that I was deathly scared, and on one take I died and there’s so much gunfire. You know these are real guns, we’re just shooting blanks. I have earplugs, so I didn’t hear them yell ‘Cut!’ and I’m not moving because I’m dead. At one point, Vince got closer and louder and yells “G-Rod tarantula!” And you better believe I got up immediately! (laughs)

The way everything was shot and the way Bob Odenkirk works is phenomenal. The guy really knows how to elevate a scene. There was a moment where we did a hard reset, a good 30-minute reset, they had to clear his shirt of dirt and such. And Bob jumped right back into it on the ground, crawling to the car like that! I thought, “Wow this guy logs back in so quickly!” A good thirty minutes, Bob just takes a sip of water. Within a split second when Vince said “We’re going hot. We’re going to spit fire” Bob is dialed back in. It was truly amazing to see that kind of sharp talent. I think we can both agree and appreciate, that he had to really step up. Jimmy had a situation that Saul had put him through. And now it’s Jimmy who’s got to deal with it.

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez in shootout as El Jefe while Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman crawls on ground – Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 8 “Bagman” – GIF Credit via AMC

He had to really sell that Jimmy is in a f****d up situation and really elevate it. So, that the sense of fear would really come through. We know the guy is talented but to do it so quickly after over a thirty-minute reset process that pulls you out of it, to dial it back in two seconds is just amazing to see.

I thought there was so much incredible body language in this scene. You could practically watch it on mute and it would still come across. First when you grab the key out of Jimmy’s hand… And especially when the ‘Jefe’ gives the universally understood signal to ‘cut off his head.’ What went into crafting that major moment?

When I signal Kenneth Trujillo (Matedor) to kill in a way that Vince wanted to deliver, “Less is more”. The ‘Jefe’ goes for the money, he breaks a smile, he’s thrilled, can’t believe it. You’re done with this guy. You’re done, just signal your guy to kill him, what are you going to do? Vince gave me a bit of creative liberty there, which is where that motion you’re talking about came from. I say Épale which means “Hey!” in Spanish over in Venezuela, where I’m from. Then I’m back to the money.

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez as El Jefe signals Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman’s fate – Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 8 “Bagman” – GIF Credit via AMC

It’s cool that they kept that in because I’ve had Venezuelas reach out to me and say “Oh you must have been a Venezuelan cartel!” Because we don’t really know anything about this mysterious cartel other then I’m the Jefe of it.

How do you feel about Stanley Kubrick style ‘take as many takes as needed until it’s perfect’ directing as an actor?

I love it! That’s what you saw with Vince and this scene. When you’re looking at a setup that takes thirty minutes just to get Jimmy in the right angle when he’s walking to that rear view mirror… Just to get that 1-2 seconds shot of that angle. Taking in 30-45 minutes of resetting to shoot it not once, twice, three I think it was four times, you’re thinking alright this guy has a vision.

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez as El Jefe signals Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman to get out of the car – Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 8 “Bagman” – GIF Credit via AMC

He wants to have an arsenal of coverage, so when editing comes around, he has it all and then some! That was cool to experiment. I started my career in this business in ’09 and I have yet to see somebody who’s out to create that arsenal of coverage like Vince.

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez motions Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) as El Jefe to get out of the car on Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 8 “Bagman” Screenshot Photo Credit: AMC

I’ve read that you originally wanted to be in the U.S. Border Patrol before becoming an actor, and acted out a literal audition in a job interview for it. Is that true?

Yep, and after that you could hear a pin drop in the room. You know, it’s this big formal setting, with three senior level, big, armed border patrol agents. They’re been in it for ten to fifteen hours, and there’s a circular clock on the wall. It’s a pretty typical government room, all white walls and a table. So this guy looks at me and says, “Okay. Well, we’ve never had that before.” And he looks at the other guy.

“Typically when candidates do when we give them this scenario, they explain what they’re going to do. You have opted to show us. Okay, just give me a minute.” He confers with the other two guys and my heart’s f*****g racing. They might actually call a psych ward to have me taken out of here.

Then they turn to me, and the middle guy in charge says “After conferring, we’ve all decided that was a great job. Very unique. And you passed!”

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez – Behind the Scenes on Better Call Saul’s “Bagman” – Photo provided by Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez

What ultimately made you decide to pursue acting after passing? I assume being a U.S. Border Patrol Agent was your dream at the time?

I walked out of there, and I’m like, “What just happened in there?” I had a self-analysis that night, and realized, I enjoyed the storytelling. I enjoyed that most of all! I reached out to an artist crew and started auditioning for student films and they were like, “Man, your look is amazing!” I was like “What the f**k are you talking about?”

I always thought I just looked like a regular dude, I didn’t know I’d be perfect playing bad guys. I thought, let me explore this a bit further and I auditioned for Burn Notice and Graceland. I had all these passion directors calling me up saying I love your look! And I was like, “What the f**k is this man?” (laughs) I was like let me capitalize on this bad guy thing and the storytelling.

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez – Behind the Scenes Shot on Better Call Saul’s “Bagman” – Photo provided by Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez

What kind of weaponry training did you have over the years? It’s noticeable off Better Call Saul alone that you’ve obviously had experience and know how to hold a weapon realistically. Do you spend a lot of time at gun ranges in preparation for potential roles?

It’s constant, I own firearms and it’s our responsibility as stunt performers and stunt actors. Obviously, my passion is first and foremost acting but I’m always going to be in a situation acting-wise where I’m holding a gun, throwing punches, or something. My background is in Karate, Gōjū-ryū, so it’s my responsibility to keep my entire arsenal skillset ready and fresh. So, when I walk on to a set on a day like that day, they’re going to notice how I hold a gun… And the audience sees this guy knows how to handle a gun!

In the behind the scenes clip of “Bagman” you posted on Instagram you’re singing the lyrics to a song, what was it?

In the Still of the Night” by The Five Satins, released in 1956. That got a couple of chuckles because you’ve got these two guys, ready to rollout for a shootout and listening to this.

Thanks G-Rod!

Thank you!

Behind the Scenes Shot of El Jefe’s Crew on Better Call Saul’s “Bagman” – Photo provided by Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez

Follow Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez on social media on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and his official website! Discover all of G-Rod’s acting roles on IMDB.

Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez Promo Picture – Photo provided by Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez

Be sure to read Saul Goodman Vs. Jimmy McGill: What’s in a name? on The Natural Aristocrat!

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AMC

Lydia, Negan steal show with shades of TLOU’s Ellie and Joel

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Cassady McClincy as Lydia, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 15 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Cassady McClincy gave her best acting performance to date on “The Tower” as she and Jeffrey Dean Morgan made a strong play for the roles of Ellie & Joel on HBO’s upcoming adaption of The Last of Us.

This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 Episode 15 (“The Tower”) and The Last of Us.

Is it time for Negan to trade in his vintage leather jacket for an olive-green plaid shirt in-between seasons of The Walking Dead? Lydia’s chaotic outburst at the father figure who ironically made her an orphan tonight was magic. A frenzied tearjerker with the same intentionally unrefined edges that once made Rick Grimes’ breakdown ‘snot’ memorable. Vicious, raw screaming at the man who took away both Lydia’s mother and right to self-sacrifice at her hand. Cradled, sheltered, and snatched from fate. Just as Joel did to Ellie at the conclusion of The Last of Us.

The type of father/daughter on-screen chemistry Cassady McClincy and Jeffrey Dean Morgan share is a rare sight. Negan pleading with Lydia to hit him, desiring nothing more than to lean down to present an unguarded mug was one of the show’s more powerful visuals. What do you say to an abused teenager whose mother you just pushed past death row? Lydia, rejected the guilt-filled plea initially. Opting to pierce Negan where it hurts the most… With words of truth. ‘You just wanted to be a hero to them but you’ll never be one!’

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Cassady McClincy as Lydia – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 15 – Photo: Jace Downs/AMC

Though TWD’s audience has seen a youngster losing a parent before with Carl Grimes, it was to an extent, mostly bottled up by Carl postmortem. Here we see the full spectrum of emotions from detachment, disgust and unbridled rage to complete shock, vulnerability and sadness by Lydia. Rockbottom.

The last remnants of Lydia’s innocence, of her childhood, forever gone. No chance of making her mother or father’s heart be filled with pride ever again. Not even the faintest, unrealistic daydreams of her mother’s starry-eyed happy tears at a college graduation or wedding. Every day forward will be spent alone, even when others are there. Instead of being gently guided, Lydia is shoved into the mud of adulthood.

Tonight’s TWD just needed Gustavo Santaolalla’s “All Gone” (No Escape) to complete the moment…

Be sure to read Lydia’s mistreatment proves Second Chances are Fashion Statements and more TWD Season 10 coverage in The Natural Aristocrat’s Walking Dead category section.

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