That’s all she wrote, everyone. For season 2 of The Walking Dead, anyway. And boy, what a finale it was. Featuring some truly exciting tidbits leading into the next season, we’re going to suffer through a long and grueling summer of torture without any zombie goodness.
To hold us over, we had our last chat with Robert Kirkman until season 3 begins.
There are spoilers within for “Beside the Dying Fire” and some mild spoilers for the comic book series as well. You’ve been warned.
Robert Kirkman:Cool, thanks!
IGN: Last week, you mentioned that the group we started this episode with would not be the same one we ended it with, and you were spot on with that statement. But not even counting their physical losses here, what do you think is the most drastic change in the group by the end of the episode?
Kirkman: There’s a lot going on. Lori and Rick are definitely at odds because of the revelation that Rick killed Shane, I think that Carl is definitely a bit shell-shocked about this, and you know, Andrea is off on her own which is kind of interesting. I think Rick is now clearly established as the leader, but it’s come at a great cost. To a certain extent, he’s leading out of fear more than he is out of loyalty, and that’s a dangerous thing. Maggie and Beth and Hershel are definitely reeling from the deaths of Jimmy and Patricia, and we’ve introduced Michonne! I think that’s a really big, earth-shattering change to the cast. So there’s a lot going on and quite a bit that will have people absolutely dying to see season 3.
IGN: Totally. And this episode seems to be Rick’s real turning point into the leader that he needs to be. Do you foresee a challenge in keeping him likable as the show’s anchor point while sending him down this really dark and hard path?
Kirkman: I think that’s all based on the audience. I think a good portion of the audience really wanted to see him step up and take charge. I don’t think we’re in danger of alienating those people. This is just a realistic portrayal. This is what would happen to a guy living through these kind of things. You have to recognize that he’s not a leader; he’s not a guy who wanted this role.
He’s a guy that’s surrounded by people who are demanding that he take up this responsibility and help them. He’s put into an impossible position, and so watching it affect him and watching it hurt him emotionally and cause him to do these things is a compelling thing to watch. I’m not really worried about likability, as long as he’s compelling.
IGN: [laughs] Which was, of course, that they are all infected. The group got pretty pissed that Rick was withholding this information. How do you think knowing their inevitable fates of becoming walkers weighs down on them?
Kikrman: Well, it’s certainly not going to help the mood at all. It’s one thing to survive in this world, and it’s another to survive knowing that you’re essentially doomed. I think that if you really sit down and analyze it, it’s not really that horrible. You’re dead anyway. That’s upsetting, but it’s not like everyone is dying. It’s not really going to cripple them too much, but this is definitely something they’re going to have to do deal with and something that puts them in a unique mindset that is going to inform their actions in season 3 and beyond.
IGN: I’d say in terms of action, this episode holds the largest scale zombie attack of the show that I can remember. As co-writer of the episode, does the slow build of the season put pressure on you to make it a really solid payoff?
Kirkman: Yeah. I mean, that’s why this episode was packed to the brim with awesome stuff. We really wanted to continue to escalate things, and so going from Dale’s death to Shane’s death to the death of the farm, essentially, and Patricia and Jimmy, was an important thing to us. We definitely wanted to go out on a huge bang, and I think having the farm attack and having them lose the farm and have the group be split up and have Andrea be off on her own and then introduce Michonne and then introduce the prison – and also reveal the Jenner whisper — this is a very full episode.
It’s a pretty good note to leave the show on, and a pretty clear indication of what we’re going to be doing in the third season; what kind of show this is going to be. It’s going to be a very dangerous show. It’s not a show where characters stick around for too terribly long.
IGN: I think Andrew Lincoln really took it to the next level with Rick’s transformation in this episode. As a writer, what does it open up for you in terms of the range that he’s able to take the character?
Kirkman: It’s extremely reassuring to have that caliber of actor in that role. I think Andrew Lincoln embodies Rick in a way that I could never imagine, having created the character almost a decade ago. Being able to see him be this kind-hearted, loving, almost naive guy at the beginning, then growing into this hardened, maniacal – but mostly altruistic – badass that he’s become is really cool.
Anyone that’s read the comic book series, as far as Rick as gone, you know that he’s not even really at the halfway point of his emotional journey. And we’re going to continue to see Rick change over time and grow into this different character. That’s really what this show is about. Them surviving and carrying on, and the toll it takes on them and evolves their characters. How they adapt to the surroundings that they’re in. I think Andrew Lincoln has really done a great job with that stuff.
IGN: You mentioned this a couple of times already, but this episode offers lots of teases of what’s to come in season 3. First and foremost, of course, is the debut of Michonne. We don’t see her face, so I’m curious if the casting process for her was put off so as not to spoil the surprise?
Kirkman: Yeah, that was a big part of it. One of the things that does spoil things for shows like this is the casting, because once you cast an actor, you need to announce that and it’s kind of a big thing that people want to get out there. We were very mindful of that and were able to pull some movie magic in order to keep things under wraps, but I will say that we should be announcing the casting of Michonne very soon!
IGN: Awesome! And of course, the very last shot revealed what looks to be a very familiar prison. Will there be ties between this location and the Governor, who we know is a part of season 3, as there is in the comics?
Kirkman: This season ends with a series of hints; Michonne, the prison, things like that. I think anyone who’s read the comic book series knows that the prison storyline is very much tied into the Governor storyline and Woodbury. We know that David Morrissey has already been cast as the Governor, so this is something that is definitely on the horizon. I think we’re going to be seeing all of that kind of stuff.
IGN: Before we go, is there anything you’d like to tease for next season? It’s going to be a long drought after all!
Kirkman: I do understand that! Look, there’s a lot of questions out there; there’s a lot of characters that are in the mix that haven’t appeared in this episode, so there’s a lot of cool stuff coming. You’ve seen Michonne, you’ve seen the prison, you know the Governor is coming, but there is still a large number of surprises in store for you leading up to the third season and we can’t wait to get into it!
IGN: Great. Well thanks Robert, it’s been a hell of a season, I really enjoyed it. We’ll talk to you again for season 3!