By Clark Collis
March 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT
Gene Page/AMC

You know those episodes of The Walking Dead in which people don’t get eaten, zombies don’t get blasted with guns, and major plot points destined to impact the show in drastic, game-changing ways don’t get introduced? Well, tonight’s second-season finale of the AMC was not one of those.

Below, Walking Dead comic writer and TV show exec producer Robert Kirkman talks about the [SPOILER] of [SPOILER] and [SPOILER], the [SPOILER] of [SPOILER], and that final [SPOILER] of the [SPOILER]. Yep, if you didn’t watch tonight’s show then you should probably do so before reading any further.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We have a lot of things to talk about this week. But, first of all, I just want to point out that it was Carl’s gunshot which attracted that herd of zombies which means that kid should now have the deaths of Dale and Patricia and Jimmy on his conscience.

ROBERT KIRKMAN: There is that. I would put [their deaths] on Shane.

It almost seemed like you had trouble fitting in all the action this week.

That was something we did on purpose. We really wanted to go out with a bang. We just had two very major, very emotional deaths and we wanted to open the finale with a big action beat that was still very dark and traumatic. We did lose Jimmy and Patricia. But we did want it to be like , “Hey, isn’t this kind of fun? Guys are riding around in cars, on motorcycles, shooting guns and fighting zombies.” We wanted to have kind of a cleanse-the-palette beat at the beginning of the finale. But we were very mindful of how much we were packing in.

You wrote the episode with showrunner Glen Mazzara. When you were doing so did you imagine Patricia and Jimmy wearing Star Trek-style red shirts?

No! Absolutely not! They may not have gotten as much screen time as a Daryl Dixon or a Rick Grimes. But the Walking Dead is all about making these deaths emotional. I think when you see Beth’s reaction you see that these are important deaths and they did inform just how dangerous that attack on the farm was and they definitely served their purpose. So I wouldn’t want to sell them short by throwing out “red shirt” accusations.

I apologize, sir! Were you not tempted to have the zombies lay siege to the farmhouse? The characters had recently reinforced the building in preparation for just that scenario, which now seems like a huge waste of their time.

That’s what the Walking Dead does. It plays with those tropes. I mean, when we show you them boarding up those windows you think they’re going to huddle in this house, trying to fight off the masses. But what we hit them with was something much larger.

When Glenn told Maggie he loved her it was a very touching moment. But I assumed it would almost immediately be followed by one of them getting eaten.

One of my favorite things about the show right now is, after these three episodes, we are in a mode where the audience is so used to characters going at any moment that they’re almost surprised when people don’t go. That’s really cool. That’s the atmosphere we’ve had going on in the comic book series for a long time, this feeling that anyone can go at any moment. You know, it’s a dangerous world and it’s a dangerous show and we’re definitely going to be continuing that theme going into season 3. The show’s always kind of going to be a bloodbath.

Lori was extremely upset when she learned Rick had killed Shane. But she did everything but print up “PLEASE KILL SHANE!” T-shirt, basically.

[Laughs] Look, she’s a very complicated character and this is a very complicated world. No matter what her actions may have appeared to be, she loved Shane and she loved Rick. These are two men who were a big part of her life for many, many, many years. So the revelation that her husband is a murderer and also murdered his best friend is always going to be somewhat jarring, I would think.

Are you looking forward to writing, years hence, the scene in which Lori tells her currently unborn child the story of his or her two dads?

Yeah. We’re going  to have a “story time” episode in season 6 where that happens.

Next: The arrival of Michonne

Gene Page/AMC

Speaking of Shane’s death, in the comic book he is shot and buried but then Rick subsequently digs him up and kills him again, when he learns you don’t have to be bitten to turn into a zombie. I’ve always thought was one of the creepiest and oddly moving sequences in the saga. You’ve said before it’s fun to change things up on the TV show but is it also tough to lose things like that?

That’s an interesting thing to analyze. It’s a good point. I agree that story in the comic book is definitely the kind of thing I would want to see in the television show. The problem is that in the comic book we did not have “the Jenner whisper,” okay? So the Jenner whisper is tied into the fact that Shane came back while he was above ground  and that’s when Carl shot him. Now the trade-off is, Rick killed Shane and, in the comic book, Carl killed Shane. By having him come back as a zombie, you still get the moment of Carl shooting Shane, which is cool. It was a juggling act. There are cool things we’d like to do from the comic book but there are things set in the show that make that a little complicated. If we hadn’t had the Jenner we might have done the burying and digging up stuff.

I have to note that, even during a zombie apocalypse, people are still making jokes about Asian drivers.

[Laughs] Leave it to Daryl Dixon.

I imagine Merle’s got a few of those, too.

Uh, if we ever see him again. You never know! It seems likely he could pop up in season 3. But I’m not going to comment.

Despite the mayhem at the farm, I suspect a lot of fans of the comic book will be most excited by the arrival of Michonne. I assume that’s her and not some other cowled person leading around a couple of chained zombies?

That’s definitely Michonne, yes.

A lot of people unfamiliar with the comic book will be wondering why on earth she is keeping company with a pair of undead ghouls.

Well, that’s a fun mystery and that’s the kind of stuff that drives you to check out season 3. It is really jarring for someone who isn’t familiar with the comic book to see a woman with two armless, jawless zombies carrying a katana sword. That’s not something you would expect to see in this show, thus far. But I think it’s a really important message to send to the audience. I like to think of it as sticking your flag into the ground and saying, “Ah, you haven’t seen anything yet!” It gives you a sense that season 3 is really going to go into some cool places.

Have you cast the part of Michonne yet? We didn’t see her face, so I wasn’t sure if that was the actress who will be playing the role, or a key grip, or whatever.

It’s very hard to keep these kind of things secret and the casting announcements are sometimes the things that spill things. We’ve been very careful with Michonne and we should be announcing the casting very soon. (UPDATE: Very soon, as in right after the finale aired.)

In all the excitement I almost forgot that we saw a helicopter at the start of the show.

That’s true. And that’s also a nod to the helicopter Rick spotted in the premiere episode. So maybe that wasn’t a hallucination on his part and maybe there will be another nod to that at some point in the future.

In the comic book, the survivors spend a long time at a prison which looks very similar to the structure we saw at the end of the show.

That definitely appears to be what it is. You know, between seasons 1 and 2 we got a lot of questions: Where are we going? What are we doing? Are we going to see the farm? What can I expect in season 2? I like the fact that this season has ended in a way that says: You’re going to see Michonne! You know that the Governor’s been cast! We’ve seen the prison! You kind of know what’s on the horizon. There’s some really cool things ahead and people should be very excited for season 3. I know a lot of the things that are ahead and I’m kind of blown away.

Read more:

‘The Walking Dead’ Recaps and Episode Guide