Corpse disposal was much on the minds of the Walking Dead characters in last night’s episode, “Wildfire,” following the campfire massacre of the preceding week. The show’s simple, but contentious, conundrum? What to do with the bodies of loved ones that could turn into zombies who love the taste of bodies?
The answers were varied. While Andrea took a heartbroken age to shoot Amy, Norman Reedus’ Daryl wasted no time pickaxeing in the head any corpse that moved, or at least looked like it might do so. Meanwhile, poor Jim was left to zombie-ficate by the side of the road as the rest of the diminished band of survivors headed off to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (which, as I’ve noted elsewhere, really seems to have been sleeping on the job with regard to both control and prevention. I will be extremely disappointed if Noah Emmerich’s CDC scientist gets a bonus this Christmas).
Who can we blame for all this cruel and bloody mayhem? Well, we can start with Robert Kirkman, who is a writer and executive producer on the show and also pens the still ongoing Walking Dead comic book (the thirteenth collected volume, Too Far Gone, has just hit stores). After the jump, the scribe answers our questions about last night’s episode, teases next week’s season finale, and ruminates on the possibility that coming back to life as a member of the drooling undead may actually be “awesome.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First of all, congratulations on The Walking Dead making the cover of this week’s EW.
ROBERT KIRKMAN: I’ve got to say — not to kiss your magazine’s a– or anything — but when they called me and said Frank [Darabont, Walking Dead exec producer] wanted to do the show, I was like, “Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it.” And then when AMC was like, “We’re picking up the show,” I was like, “Yeah, alright, whatever.” When they actually started shooting the pilot I was like, “Well, this is kind of real, this is neat.” But when they called me and said, “Your show’s on the cover of Entertainment Weekly,” I think that was the first time I was like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe this is happening to me!“
Of course, you’ll really know you’ve made it in showbiz when we start complaining about the poor quality of the second season.
No, we’re going to be awesome! [Laughs]
Moving on to episode five, does it make me a bad person that I could watch Norman Reedus swing a pickaxe into dead people’s skulls all day long?
I just think it makes you a human being. [Laughs] Honestly, his character is one of my favorites on the show and it p—es me off that I can’t go back in time and put him in the comic.
I found the whole sequence in which Andrea waited for Amy to return as a zombie both incredibly emotional and utterly nerve-shredding. To be honest, I was just sitting there going, “Shoot her! Shoot her!!!”
It was honestly one of my favorite scenes of the show so far. Glen Mazzara, who wrote that episode, did an amazing job hyping the tension up. Laurie Holden did a great job and then Emma doing her zombie transformation — it was really cool.
Another memorable moment was when Carol made sure that hubbie Ed wasn’t going to be coming back from the dead to abuse her some more.
That scene where she goes a little crazy on his corpse was another great thing that Frank suggested. In the comic book series, it was mentioned that Carol’s husband Ed died by getting killed by zombies and that he was abusive to her and she felt guilty because she was actually happy when he died. But it was never shown. That was another thing Frank was able to pull from the comic book series and expand.
There was lots of talk in the episode concerning what to do with the bodies of the dead. That seems to be at the very heart of what you’ve always said you intended The Walking Dead to be about, which is how you hold on to your humanity in such a terrible situation.
Yeah. I agree.
Having said which, I’m definitely with Daryl about needing to deal with the threat of people coming back as zombies as quickly as possible. If it was you and me in an undead apocalypse and you even got a sniffle of a cold, I would shoot you immediately, just in case.
Well, I think that means you’re a bad person. No, I really like these scenes. You know, Glenn coming out and yelling like he did — I like that we’re starting to see these characters transform and to a certain extent growing into the characters they [become] in the comic book series. I can’t wait to see more of it.
Although I assume Glenn is still carrying around Merle’s severed hand in his backpack.
That thing will pop up when you least expect it. He’ll go, “Pork and beans? Oh, I have a can of pork of beans right here in my bag. Let me get that out of there… Arrrgh! There’s a severed hand still in there!!!”
Speaking of Michael Rooker’s still missing Merle, some of our commenters have made the suggestion that he will become The Governor, who is the most memorable villain to be featured in the comic book. Without giving too much away, it would be a somewhat appropriate development, given Merle’s dismemberment.
It did seem to be an implication from the way the story was told. But I will say that maybe that’s a little misdirection. Who knows what to expect in the coming years of this television show?
Well, you do, I’m guessing!
You’ll just have to stay tuned. Note my cagey responses.
The whole CDC plot line hints at the possibility that we will find out why the dead have risen, which is something you’ve never explained in your comic book. Why did you decide to avoid that topic?
It occurred to me that, if this were to happen to real people, then real people wouldn’t be concerned with why it’s happening and how to fix it. They would just be concerned with finding food and surviving from day to day. But Frank Darabont said, “We’re in Atlanta and the CDC is based in Atlanta. Why wouldn’t they at least pop by?” And I said, “Huh?” Because I don’t know where the hell the CDC is stationed. I don’t watch the news a lot. I mean, sometimes. But they’re not talking about the CDC mostly. It’s always about, you know, who Britney Spears wrecked her car into. But when Frank brought it up, I said it was a really good idea. I like that we are diverging from the comic book here and there. For anyone that that terrifies, all I would say is, “We’re always going back onto the path.” Frank has always maintained that the comic book is a path but we’re not stuck on it. If a story idea comes up, we’ll leave the path for an episode or two, but we’ll always come back to it. I’m sure there are going to be some people out there that are like, “The CDC? What the heck? This isn’t in my comic book. This is no good!” And all I would say to those people is, “Calm down.”
George Romero’s undead films rarely concern themselves with the reason why the dead have come to life, except for some speculation about the apocalypse being connected to a returning satellite in Night of the Living Dead. Personally, as a die hard zombie fan, I am totally open to the idea that one day the dead will just get up and try to eat me for no reason whatsoever. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already. But do you worry that — partly because of Lost — there may be a lot of newcomers to the genre who assume the show is really all about “Why did this happen?” and “How can we fix it?”
I think you’re right. I think there are some viewers out there who think this is something that will be dealt with and that it is a mystery that will probably run though the show. And all I can say is, as we move on, we will either answer those questions to satisfy those viewers, or we will make it clear to those viewers that those are not questions that we are ever going to answer, and that’s not really what this show is about.
I have mixed feelings about so much that happens on The Walking Dead, which is actually one of the great things about the show. But I have particularly mixed feelings about the characters leaving Jim to turn into a zombie. I would be like, “Yeah, sure, we’ll do that, Jim.” Then I’d blow his brains out from behind.
Honestly, I would have security escort you out of the building if I worked for EW. You are terrifying me. You have pointed out how you want to shoot people about four times in the last two minutes. I don’t get how you live in normal society. Anyway, that’s something from the comic. The thing that I was thinking about when I was writing that is, “There’s death, which is this unknown. But you’ve seen zombies walking around, and that is some form of living.” I had never seen someone in a zombie movie just say, “No, no, no, I’ll take the zombie thing.” To me, it’s like, “How do you know that you’re not in rainbow land and everybody looks like cupcakes when you’re a zombie?” Like, it might be awesome to be a zombie. Who knows?
Maybe they only do that whole shambling-bitey-”Uuurgh!” thing when living people are around. Maybe when living people aren’t around, they go bowling or stock car racing or whatever.
[Laughs] It’s true, man. If a zombie… I’m trying to figure out some way to adapt the “If a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound?” to zombies, but I’m not going to be able to pull that off. So let’s just let the readers adjust that analogy accordingly.
Okay, just tell us one thing about next week’s finale.
Let me think, let me think. I believe some wine is drunk.
That’s really all you’re going to give us?
Well, if you’ve been watching the show, you’ll know there’s a lot going on between Rick and Shane and Lori. I think if you’re interested to see how that love triangle is going to progress, you might want to make sure you tune in for the last episode of this season. So that’s good. And then I think someone takes a shower.
Is it a lady person?
By the way, I like the optimism you showed in saying “If you’ve been watching the show…,” as if there are honestly going to people reading the end of a Q&A with the writer of the Walking Dead who aren’t watching show.
You never know. There could be people who don’t even own televisions that are like, “I get all my enjoyment from reading interviews online. This show seems do be going well and it does sound interesting. But I’ve got a strict rule on not watching television so I’m never going to tune into this!”
What did you think of last night’s episode? Do you care if we never find out why the zombie apocalypse has occurred? Would you like to see Michael Rooker return as the Governor? And who — if anyone — do you think is going to die in the finale?
More about The Walking Dead:
‘The Walking Dead’: Let’s meet our zombie cover stars!
‘The Walking Dead’: This week’s EW cover story goes behind the scenes on TV’s best new show
‘Night of the Living Dead’: How a 42-year-old zombie movie refuses to die
‘The Walking Dead’ recap: The Sound, The Fury, and the Zombies
‘Walking Dead’ creator Robert Kirkman talks sbout last night’s episode, ‘Vatos’