Can an episode still be described as a “pausing-for-breath” show if it introduces the dead, but still very excitable, daughter of one main character and finds another trying to retrieve the remains of his recently deceased wife from the stomach of a zombie? That was the question raised by tonight’s episode of AMC’s undead saga The Walking Dead which, even if it didn’t feature the cast-thinning mayhem of last week’s show, was hardly lacking in incident.
Below, Walking Dead TV show executive producer — and Walking Dead comic writer — Robert Kirkman ruminates on Rick’s rampage, Penny’s teeth, and Daryl’s poncho.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, Rick seems to be taking the loss of Lori pretty well.
ROBERT KIRKMAN: [Laughs] Yeah, exactly. It’s funny, we did a Talking Dead poll and there were a lot of options as to how Rick would handle this. And one of the options that Talking Dead came up with — and I think they do this independent of knowing what’s coming up in the show — but one of the options was “Go on a zombie-killing rampage.” And that option won by 80% of the vote.
I want to make sure I understand matters correctly: Lori’s body was eaten by a zombie, who Rick then shot and started to gut in the hope of retrieving his dead wife’s remains. Is that right?
I don’t know if it was necessarily that — whether he wanted to inflict further pain on the zombie that ate his wife or if he as, in fact, for some crazy reason trying to see some piece of her in the hopes of gaining something…Look, it’s a dark show, I don’t know what to tell you!
I know you like to say that ideas are generated by the writers’ room as a whole rather than giving credit to specific people. But I want to know who specifically thought up that scenario because I plan on forwarding their details to the police.
[Laughs] I think I’m going to lay the blame on Angela Kang, who wrote the episode.
By the end of the episode three graves had been dug and filled in at the prison. But there are no actual bodies in any of them, right? Lori and T-Dog were both eaten and they haven’t found any trace of Carol at all.
That’s correct. They’re markers — it’s a sentimental thing. There’s enough bodies in the world of the Walking Dead. You don’t have to actually put them in the ground.
I understand. It just occurs to me that this means they got the two prisoners to dig two big holes and then just fill them in again.
Are you finding plot holes now?
No. Are you punning?
Yes, I am.
That just seems to be some post-apocalyptic, Cool Hand Luke-style hazing to me.
I honestly think it was just a test to see what they could do. It was more of an initiation than a hazing, if there’s any kind of a difference. I think they had every intention of finding bodies and they just didn’t.
You hinted last week that we would be learning more about the Governor’s daughter and we certainly did. The character is in the original comic book — could you talk a little about how you came up with her?
The Governor is a pretty bad dude and does some horrible things. And I thought it would be necessary to show a significant piece of humanity in the guy. You never just want to have a moustache-twirling bad guy. To show some hint at his humanity and to give some kind of pain to the character, to show what he’s been through and how he arrived at the person that he currently is — I think Penny accomplishes that. I mean, the fact that he still has his daughter and he still clings to the hope that there is something in her, it shows that there is something really interesting going on with the guy. But it also informs his relationship with Milton as we’ll see in the next few episodes. It just kind of gives him another layer to his mission. Not only is he trying to keep this city safe, he’s trying to figure something out with his daughter.
The Governor did come across somewhat sympathetically this episode, particularly when Andrea makes clear her distaste for the zombie-gladiator fight. It was like a date which went horribly wrong.
The performance from David Morrissey in that scene is probably one of my favorite of the entire season — he is just so into it and she’s not. He’s like, “Whoah! Whaoah! What’s going on? What happened?” I love the switch there. But, yeah, it is fun watching the Governor actually kind of enjoying himself to a certain extent and opening up to Andrea in his own way. It’s an interesting thing about the town of Woodbury, that it is seemingly so peaceful but they have this very bizarre way of blowing off steam and keeping people entertained so they don’t occupy their minds with other things. Like how crazy their leader might be or that there may be something else going on here.
Does Penny still have her teeth?
Yes, Penny does indeed still have her teeth. Are you referencing the most regrettable scene in the comic book ever?
I am. [Note: In the Walking Dead comic, the Governor ultimately removes his charge’s teeth with a pair of pliers.] Although it was made clear this episode that Merle and crew have gotten into the habit of de-fanging the zombies.
Yeah. The Governor wouldn’t necessarily want to do that to his own daughter. [The scene in the comic] makes me cringe the most. It makes me proud and disgusted at the same time, that I wrote it. Whether or not we go there remains to be seen.
I love that the Governor had written “Finalize budget for second half of the year” in his Big Book of Plans before going off his rocker.
Yeah, the Governor has a lot of big plans and I would encourage viewers to try and find hints at upcoming things in his notebook.
This could just be my poor hearing, but when Merle and Milton were out in the country capturing the zombies did one of the undead get called a “constipated Elmo”?
I would have to look at the script. All I can say it response to that is, “I sure hope so.”
Daryl was looking very Man With No Name-ish in his poncho.
Yeah, Eulyn (Womble), our wardrobe lady really does take great pride in making Daryl look as awesome as possible as often as possible.
As someone who has read the comic book, I have an idea of who’s calling Rick on the phone. But is it possible it could be his mother saying, “You never call! You never write! How’s Lori?”
It could be anybody, you never know. It could be Shane or T-Dog calling from heaven. There are clearly hints as to what that is if you’ve read the comic book series — whether or not we go in that direction remains to be seen. But there’s definitely some interesting stuff coming up.
For more Walking Dead ruminations, check out tonight’s episode of Talking Dead, which features WD makeup overlord and director Greg Nicotero — and EW‘s own Dalton Ross.