Tonight’s episode of the Walking Dead had something for everyone — well, everyone who likes shootouts, facial woundings, and grotesquely impaled limbs. Yes, season two of AMC’s hugely successful zombie show finally put the mayhem pedal to the metal as Rick, Hershel, and Glenn blasted their way out of the bar and Lori put the skewered zombie head into driver’s ed. Below, Walking Dead comics scribe and TV show executive producer Robert Kirkman talks about the episode, the show’s record ratings, and the disgusting politeness of Andrew Lincoln.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: No one could say that this episode was not action-packed.
ROBERT KIRKMAN: That’s true. I mean, look, there’s all that tension in the bar with those people outside and we barely even see them. It was a really cool move on [the part of showrunner] Glen Mazzera working with David Leslie Johnson on this script. They’re this strange outside threat and I think it makes them more scary because everything is played inside and it’s all done off the looks of Scott Wilson and Steven Yeun and Andrew Lincoln. I think the performances in that scene are tremendous.
What we’re doing in this second half of the season is taking characters we’ve gotten to know and putting them in situations you wouldn’t expect them to be in and doing things that we haven’t really seen them do. Seeing Hershel and Glenn move into kind of action hero mode, albeit briefly, is kind of a cool thing. And, also in this episode, Lori surviving that car crash and fighting that zombie, off…. It’s important to recognize that Shane does come but he comes after she’s taken care of the situation. This woman is very capable and it’s cool to see her rise to the occasion and be able to handle that and show that she is a strong individual and is capable of existing in this world. The back half of this season is really going to be about learning more about these characters and seeing what they are capable of.
Right at the end of the episode, Lori came over very Lady Macbeth-y. She was literally whispering into Rick’s ear about taking Shane down.
Yeah, she’s terrified and with good reason. She could possibly be maliciously directing Rick towards a course of action or she could be, in her own, way, saying, “I’m terrified and I don’t know what to do.” There are a lot of different ways that you can interpret that scene.
Did someone at the KNB effects house get a How To F— People’s Faces Up book for their birthday? There was the zombie coming through the windshield, with his skin tearing away and then another character getting their face bitten off.
There’s a lot of face trauma going on. Seeing someone’s skin peel off while they’re pushing their face through a windshield is something that we were throwing around in the writers’ room. We thought it would be very cool but we never thought that the team at KNB would be able to pull it off so expertly. Joe Giles is the zombie. He was in the very first episode. I think people call him “the Nicolas Cage zombie.” I always thought he looked like Nick Cave. But he’s a very recognizable zombie in the pilot and he plays zombies here and there because he works for KNB. He was the zombie pushing his face through the windshield and at one point I think he actually did kind of scrape his face up. He just kept going so that we would get the shot.
Who came up with the idea of having someone’s leg get spiked?
More than likely (writer-producers) Evan Reilly or Scott Gimple. Could have been Glen Mazzara’s idea. Just to be safe, I’m going to say it was mine.
It was the perfect type of spike that you would not want your leg to be impaled upon.
Yeah. When we were watching dailies and we saw the kind of spike that had chosen for that scene we were like, “That’s a thousand times worse than what we were picturing.”
If I’m ever badly hurt, one of the phrases I don’t want to hear is “Prepare the shed for surgery!”
[Laughs] Yeah, well, you know, they do what the gotta do. Maybe it was a nice shed! Who knows? This is the apocalypse, alright? You’re lucky to have a shed to perform surgery in.
That guy, it’s awful. He’s all kind and polite. It’s just disgusting.
The midseason premiere got huge ratings. You must feel that’s a big vote of confidence.
I am somewhat of a pessimist and I was convinced we were going to have a little bit of a dip. I guess people like the show! [Laughs] Here’s the secret, really, and other networks should take note of this, because I think this is really the key to the Walking Dead’s success: I have a very large family.
I alluded earlier to the fact that some people complained about the slow pace of this season. Maybe people are just tuning in to see quite how glacially-plotted it is.
The strategy seems to be working!
I love the idea that there are people for whom the premiere was their first experience of the Walking Dead.
Wow, that’s true. And, for people who have only seen that episode, Rick probably looks like a bit of a maniac. You know, gunning down a kid and then later gunning down two guys. They’re probably like, “Wait a minute, they should retitle this show Cowboy Shoots People.”
I believe that is an upcoming show on NBC.
They should give me a call. I’ve got ideas.