Tonight’s episode of AMC’s zombie show The Walking Dead found Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes settling in at his new prison home. And by “settling in” we mean ensuring the demise of many of the prisoners who, literally, popped up at the end of last week’s show. “In the Walking Dead, people have to die!” chuckles executive producer, and Walking Dead comic writer, Robert Kirkman, the callous bastard. He’s not wrong, though. And at least Scott Wilson’s seemingly doomed Hershel made it through to the end of the show, if not exactly “intact.”
Below, Kirkman talks more about the show, not killing Hershel, and why Rick really is the last person you want knocking at your front door.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve said before that you had planned on killing Hershel last season but changed your mind. I thought you’d changed your mind back this week.
ROBERT KIRKMAN: Yeah, we really like not killing Hershel. We love getting close. But we’ve really grown accustomed to not killing that guy.
This is the first time the TV show has established that cutting off an infected limb can stop the virus spreading, right?
Yeah, exactly. That’s definitely a new element that’s been brought in from the comic books. That scene actually happened in the comic but it was with a character that wasn’t Hershel. One of the thoughts behind the scene was that a lot of time passed [between seasons] so maybe this is something that they haven’t necessarily done before but it is something that, over the course of the winter, maybe they talked about.
Remind me, are the prisoners in the TV show the same characters that are in the prison in the comic book?
There’s definitely nods to the original core of prisoners. There is an Andrew that’s in the TV show that’s in the prison [in the comic book]. Axel is a prisoner in the comic books who is in the TV show. We’ll see a lot more of him in upcoming episodes. Thomas was the character in the comic book and he’s “Tomas” in the show. One of the main prisoners that was in the comic book was named Dexter and he was named Dexter before the existence of the Dexter TV show and we decided we couldn’t really use that name. But, yeah, they are largely the prisoners from the comic.
It’s no insult to say that the The Walking Dead is not generally a laugh riot. But the scene in which the prisoners broke ranks to attack the zombies was hilarious. It must be fun to come up with sequences like that.
Yeah. I mean, a lot of the actors on the show are very funny people — Steven Yeun chief among them. I will say that, from time to time this season, there will be small bits of humor. Probably the funniest scene of the season was in episode 1 but it was cut. Maybe we’ll see that on the DVD.
Did it involve a fart cushion?
It did not involve a fart cushion.
One of my favorite bits of writing was the discussion between two of the prisoners over whether they had been stuck there for 292 or 294 days. You just know that’s something they’ve been arguing about for upwards of eight hours at a time.
Yeah, there’s not a lot to talk about in the zombie apocalypse. Little mundane things like that definitely become heated debates very quickly.
Rick does seem to have gone somewhat kill crazy.
This is a guy who has been changed and radically altered by his circumstances. We saw him in season 1 as a small-town cop, not really able to process what’s going on. And now he’s a guy who had to murder his best friend for the sake of his wife and son and a bunch of strangers and now he doesn’t take s— from anybody, for lack of a better phrase. This is a very different guy who is willing to cross any line if it means protecting the people around him.
He’s also the last person you want turning up at your door. The folks at Hershel’s farm were doing fine before he arrived — same thing for the inmates at the prison.
The Walking Dead is, at its core, the story of Rick Grimes ruining everybody’s lives. But his own people are mostly okay. And he means well! I think that’s the most important thing to take home.