This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.
Near the end of The Walking Dead season 11 episode 6, Virgil (Kevin Carroll) takes in the sight of some feral human beings and remarks “I’ve never seen someone this far gone.” Given that these haunted house ghouls are completely inhuman, it’s a perfectly fair statement to make. It’s also a bit ironic coming from Virgil, Connie’s (Lauren Ridloff) new travel partner and previously one of the most “far gone” characters introduced on The Walking Dead.
Kevin Carroll’s character Virgil, was previously introduced in the season 10 mid-season finale, “The World Before.” He would then go on to factor prominently in Michonne’s farewell episode “What We Become.” It turns out that Virgil is aptly named. After all, he shares a name with the Roman poet who led Dante Alighieri through the nine circles of hell in the 14th-century epic poem Dante’s Inferno. Like Dante before her, Michonne experiences her own version of Hell at the hands of The Walking Dead‘s Virgil with the help of a hallucinogen.
While Virgil means to give Michonne some peace with his drug-laced tea by showing her “heaven,” the katanna-wielding badass has to take the long way around, first making her way through an alternate life where she never saved Andrea in season 3, never joined Rick and Daryl, became a Savior instead, and died at the wrong end of her beloved’s revolver. Michonne tells Virgil that he showed her Hell. But like in Inferno, the trip yields knowledge and wisdom for Michonne, who learns that it’s mercy that’s guided her to a life worth living in the post-apocalypse and may even lead her back to Rick Grimes.
This is why Michonne ultimately chooses to spare Virgil, who gets off easy after the stunt he pulled. Virgil is even welcomed on the last boat off the island by the other people he imprisoned, but he declines the invitation to start a new life, deciding instead to remain with his family, who are now at peace. After all, Virgil promised his wife Lisa flowers every day of their marriage. It’s a promise he’s not willing to break. Virgil may also feel that his self-imposed exile might be a way to atone for his sins.
But who was Virgil before he crossed paths with Michonne earlier in the season? We learn from his former colleagues — the ones he later locked up — that Virgil was once a researcher on Bloodworth Island. It’s not clear what he was researching, but it stands to reason that he was doing some kind of work with hallucinogens since he knows what dose to give Michonne to make her trip the way she does. (He also uses the tea on himself in order to reunite with his wife and children — Bobby and Jasmine — in “heaven.”)
During the initial outbreak, Virgil and his family enjoyed the relative safety of the research facility on Bloodsworth Island, which is off the coast of Maryland. It was only after outsiders found the island while searching for a new place to settle that things started to go south.
At first, Virgil and his colleagues welcomed the outsiders, feeding them and offering them shelter. But when resources started to run low, some of the survivors became violent and started killing each other. When walkers began to rise from the dead, Virgil ordered that they be locked in the research lab, unaware that his family was still inside. Michonne deduces that the guilt made Virgil “snap.”
This sense of responsibility for their deaths is what compels Virgil to lure Michonne to the island. He asks for her help to clear the research lab of walkers so that he can bury his family. By the end of the episode, Virgil is left to live out his final days in peace, once again with his wife and children.
Of course, that peace turns out to be short lived. We see Virgil in the season 10 finale returning to Oceanside and finding it empty. He then encounters Connie, fresh off surviving a cave collapse, and the two take off to find their community. Unfortunately, we now know that that journey took an unpleasant detour into a literal haunted house.