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The Walking Dead season finale cliffhanger: Producers weigh in

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[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s The Walking Dead season finale, “Last Day on Earth.”]

The Walking Dead concluded its sixth season with the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers, as Negan finally arrived and bashed in the brains of one of the Alexandrians with his barbed wire-covered baseball bat. But the identity of the deceased was kept a secret as the gruesome act was filmed in a way in which you could not see who was on the receiving end of the fatal blows.

Executive producers Scott M. Gimple and Robert Kirkman were on Talking Dead immediately after the season finale and had the following to say about what went down. Here are some of the highlights:

Robert Kirkman on the introduction of Negan:

“I think that for a TV show to be going into its seventh season and to get this huge event that is going to skyrocket things for many season to come… I feel like it’s puts everything in a great place. So I think Negan’s arrival on the show is absolutely awesome.”

Scott M. Gimple on the cliffhanger ending:

“The end of the story is what people saw. And when we reveal who was on the receiving end there, that’s going to be the start of another story. The kickback effects from that, what it makes everyone into, how people react, how the world changes for everyone, that’s the next part of the story.”

RELATED: The Walking Dead: Before They Were Stars

Kirkman on the cliffhanger ending:

“I’m feeling, oddly, great. I’m very excited where it’s at. What’s happening in the show is extremely sad and extremely depressing but I think it’s going to put us into a good place going into season 7.”

Kirkman on people being upset abot the cliffhanger:

“First of all, as a fan, I love cliffhangers. I love that tension. I love the anticipation of finding out what it is. If you read the comic book series, I think pretty much every issue ends with a big cliffhanger… And I think that’s a lot of fun. But this story, the cliffhanger isn’t the story. The story of the episode, and Scott and Matt Negrete did such a great hob of setting up how confident Rick was going into this. This episode is about the loss of that confidence. It’s about changing that mindset. It’s about tearing Rick Grimes down and that’s the conclusion of this story. So while it does seem like a cliffhanger, that’s the conclusion. And the story of who died, the story of what comes next, of who Negan killed, of what comes after that, that’s really the story of season 7.”

Gimple on people being upset about the cliffhanger:

“I would say, when they opened up the hatch [on Lost], we had to wait and see who was in the hatch. I liked thinking about that. I liked talking about it. … We have to do an episode that justifies it to you. We have to do something so great and so intense that you’re like ‘Okay, all right, fair play.’ That’s the challenge we have and we’re going to do it. We’re going to deliver you something fantastic. … We want you to be one of those people in that lineup. We want you to feel that suspense and that terror and that pain, and were going to deliver you a story next season that justifies it.”

RELATED VIDEO: Steven Yeun on his favorite zombie kill ever

Kirkman on if Negan is a villain:

“As upset as people probably are at Negan’s introduction and how he’s coming in and killing somebody that is very beloved to everyone, I think from his perspective he’s the hero of his story, like most villains. And if we had been following him all this time we’d be 100 percent on board with that.

Gimple on filming of that final scene:

“I felt both very proud in the moment of the cast for what they were doing, but I felt in some ways very bad for [Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan] because Jeffrey’s coming out and he’s doing an incredibly long and incredibly intense scene. And this cast, who are not on camera at the time, are crying, are shaking, are emoting. You look into their eyes, I felt bad enough for my part of it.”

RELATED: Exclusive EW Portraits of Deceased Walking Dead Characters

Make sure to also read our instant react and vote in our “Who Did Negan Kill?” poll? And for more Walking Dead intel, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.