'Walking Dead' writer Robert Kirkman talks about last night's episode and teases next week's season finale

walking-dead-posterCorpse 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.”

EW-COVER-1131_300.jpg 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.

walking-dead-holdenImage Credit: Scott Garfield/AMCI 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.

walking-dead-groupImage Credit: Scott Garfield/AMCHaving 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.

walking-dead-lincoln-105Image Credit: Scott Garfield/AMCThe 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.

walking-dead-lincolnImage Credit: Scott Garfield/AMCThat’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?
[Laughs] Yes.

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’

Comments (135 total) Add your comment
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  • Elizabeth

    This is a great show….I never watched “Zombie ” shows either…but I love this show! Can’t wait for next season!

    • Day walker

      this show is amazing im gonna find sites to post on its up there i love it i watch alot of t.v and this is awesome keep up the gd work guys you Rule ^^

  • Al

    I don’t think that finding out why is all that important. Some things are unknowable and sometimes knowing why doesn’t change anything.

    • Kevin

      100% agreed. I don’t want to know how the outbreak happened, because whatever explanation they come up with will inevitably fall short.

      • Peter Vee

        A part of me wants to have the characters demand answers, and have the CDC guy say, essentially, that it’s just a really weird mutation of a rare virus from South America or something. No conspiracy, no alien invasion, no cosmic rays, no mystery to uncover – it’s a virus, end of story.

    • Dawn

      I agree that the point of the seris is not finding out what exactly happened and trying to save the world. However, it is not realistic to have no one asking or suggesting what happened. The first thing out of my mouth after my intial shock would be “how did this happen?”

      • Kelly

        Exactly! Oh, that Kirkman quote about “normal people” annoys me more than it probably should.

      • Day walker

        true but not always sometimes pepole just dont know glad its identified cause that leads to a cure im impressed so far dont mind where they take the story just enjoy like a cup of joe in the evening =)

    • liz

      while i agree that people sitting around asking “why” wouldnt make for a terribly interesting show, but really? no one? its human nature to ask questions. specifically rick. he woke up confused. i get that the rest of them were around for the beginning, but he wasnt. wouldnt he want to know? although at this point, its almost a little late. just imagine the whole group sitting around at dinner…rick chews thoughtfully, sets his fork down, looks up and says, “oh, by the way, so how…”

      • Day walker

        * not identified lol *

  • joesmom

    I’m a normal person and the first think I would want to know is “WHY and HOW did this happen!” Duh. Its a “normal” question and I hope they don’t go down the LOST path and refuse to give the audience answers they are screaming for. LOST left a very, VERY bad taste in my mouth and I don’t want to get involved in another show where the writers have no idea where they are going. Please give us answers this time! Gotta

    Gotta admit – watching zombies get a pick axe in the skull was very cool!

    • Al

      I’m a normal person and I’m not “screaming” for the answers. I’m enjoying the journey these folks are on. Is knowing the how and why going to change any one of these people’s lives? Could they do anything about it? If it turns out that they give us the why and one of the kids has a special enzyme that will cure the virus or some such nonsense, then I’m done…

    • Kevin

      LOST was ruined by the producers who promised from the beginning that there was an explanation. This is a ZOMBIE show… I hope we don’t find out why or how it happened. When zombie movies DO answer those questions, it’s always some cheesy explanation about toxic gas, an extraterestrial disease, or scientific experience gone awry. I’d rather the story not be sullied with silly explanations… we’ve all seen enough zombie movies to make our own assumptions.

      • Kevin

        “scientific EXPERIMENT” not “experience”

      • Wendy

        Well said Kevin! I totally agree Lost made me angry because they promised and didn’t deliver any answers. Zombies are a totally different thing from an island that moves in time. I could care less why the dead are walking.

      • Dawn

        How is a “science experiment gone wrong” or “virus” cheesy? Wouldn’t that be the reason you would think of yourself if a zombie apocalypse (which is cheesy itself) were to happen? What would be a good non-cheesy explanation for a zombie apocalypse?

      • Elwood

        I think I’m a normal person, and what I’m curious about is not what causes zombies, but how it was possible for the zombies to overwhelm the military and wipe out nearly everyone, since Morgan seemed to be able to keep the zombies at bay in the first episode simply by locking the door. Did no one else think of that? A plague that has to be spread by biting people and that seems to severly limit the mobility of the infected doesn’t seem like a good candidate to spread to virtually the entire population. I mean, remember that one time that dog got rabies and within two months almost every dog on the planet had rabies? Yeah, I don’t, either. So I’m more interested in why the outbreak couldn’t be contained than by what caused it.

      • Consideract

        Good points, Elwood!

        Dawn, I think cliched might be a better term. I think Kevin feels like we’ve seen all the explanations before. Also, it is easy for these explanations to become cheesy in the sense of being poorly executed.

      • MrSmith

        @Elwood – It would be a good point, if the problem were a virus. You don’t have to encounter a walker to become a walker, all you have to do is die. If you lock up you family and friends in a building, and one of them dies (suicide, whatever) in the night, you’re in a heap of trouble. Walkers aren’t terribly dangerous alone, but as a swarm, and with a highly toxic bite/scratch, I have no problem seeing them overwhelming society fairly quickly.

      • Paul


      • ries

        elwood, read world war z. your questions will be answered.

      • Geno

        @Elwood actually if they follow the comics mythology biting has nothing to do with becoming a zombie.

      • Kelly

        @Elwood, very good points–the rabies analogy is perfect! I, too, would like to know how this thing went global so quickly; I guess I can only suspend my disbelief for so long. I like the show, but it needs a *little* something more to be–well, to be a little better.

      • Chris S.

        Elwood +1

      • Katie

        Way to rip off a joke and entire idea from a cracked.com article.

      • eli

        They addressed this in Issue 15. It’s not what most think.

    • D’s Advocate

      The answers–why things have turned out the way they have–is not the point. It’s about how these characters deal with it that is interesting and dramatic.

      • Dawn

        I don’t think anyone is arguing about the point of the series. Asking about the “how and why” is not asking for the show to focus on “saving the world.” Natural curiousity and maybe suggestions about the “how and why” is all some of us are requesting. :)

      • Mr. Saber

        The show kinda addressed this already last night when Rick first proposes they go to the CDC. I’m paraphrasing but he said, “Maybe they’re working on a cure!” I’m sure now that they’ve reached the CDC the natural questions will arise. Whether or not they are answered,is another question.

      • wino

        finding out the answer to how this started isnt the point of the show, BUT it would be nice to have it explained briefly. it makes sense for somebody, anybody to eventually ask that question on the show.

    • Mark

      I agree with joesmom. I’d sure as heck want an answer. As far as the show goes, I don’t care if they ever give us an answer–but the idea that nobody would care, or ask the question, is ludicrous. All I need is two lines of dialogue. “How did this happen?” “I don’t know–and nobody else does either.” Then at least we know the characters aren’t incurious morons.

      • Nona

        ^THIS. I would definitely want to know how the dead were suddenly rising. I would also wonder if there was a cure for it.

      • LindaG

        I completely agree. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, its just “normal” to ask the question.

    • Kitty

      I also agree with joesmom. Of COURSE people would wonder why and how! It’s absolutely idiotic to suggest otherwise. If nothing else, learning why and how might *help* you survive. I take it Kirkman doesn’t watch a lot of news, or have much intellectual curiosity.

    • Dan

      As the viewer or the reader, sure it’s natural to wonder about the origin of the zombies. What he’s saying is that as a character in the story, your first priority wouldnt be to grab some test tubes and find lab to figure things out. As a participant in the event the average person’s first priority would be things like food and water and where your kid would sleep each night.

      The Walking Dead was never meant to be a finite story. It’s an ongoing monthly story about survival and how non infected humans can be as bad if not worse than the zombies. If they found a cure the story would end. If they knew what started the plague it wouldnt change their circumstances whatsoever. They’d still be on the run from the dead if it was a virus…if it was aliens..if it was bad nuggets at McDonalds.

  • QJ201

    I’m enjoying the show, but adding the CDC and “why did this happen” angle make the Walking Dead even more of a rip off of BBC’s Survivors, which got canceled after 2 seasons and on a major cliffhanger!

    • Fact Check

      “The Walking Dead” comic began five years before the “Survivors” TV series. “Survivors” also started on the BBC; Kirkman lives in Kentucky.

      As for the CDC bit, go back to “The Andromeda Strain” and “The Stand”. Both the AS movie and film pre-date even the ORIGINAL Survivors, and “The Stand” took King years to write before it was released in ’78. Geez.

      • Davy Jones

        Actually, the most recent “Survivors” is a remake of an even *older* BBC program that started airing in 1975 — 18 years before Kirkman first published “The Walking Dead”. I don’t think that he’s ripping off “Survivors” in any way, though; adding a “Why did this happen?” angle is actually a pretty logical extension of the character arc.

    • Bring on the Governor

      Uhm….yeah. I think maybe Walking Dead DID NOT rip off a TV show that was created AFTER the Walking Dead comic book was released.

      • Mike

        I’m not defending either the argument or the rebuttal but it is clear from the Kirkman interview that the CDC bit was NOT in the comics and was suggested by Frank Darabount since they’re already in Atlanta. So while they may not have ripped off SURVIVORS, it was not in the original comic as far as I can tell.

      • Sam

        There have been so few things similar between the series and the comics. Basically the first episode and thats it.

    • wino

      it doesnt have to be an angle, just an explanation. a few lines, thats it. as many mentioned, knowing how it spreads would enable the survivors to fight off the zombies better. it makese sense for them to ask questions and figure out the answers.

  • Peter

    well, *I* read the whole interview but I stopped watching after week two. I’m curious where the story goes but not enough to watch every week. And the creative process is interesting.

    • Colleen

      Well Peter then you are missing out. You can’t feel the tension this show creates by reading an interview.

  • darclyte

    At the very least, I’d be wanting to know if anything is being done to stop it and prevent it from happening again…all while I’m hitting every convenience store and gun shop that I can find.

  • Pushindazees

    Noooooo…I don’t care why it happened…I just want to stay on the journey of survival…and I want the walkers to stay the main threat and not veer off to “the crazy king/president/gang leader of the week”. I ADORE this show! Its the answer to a zombie lover’s prayers…weekly zombie fix!

  • shirc223

    It was caused by high fructose corn syrup

    • Al


    • nic

      Isn’t everything?

  • donner

    I guess I am curious as to why SOME folks are affected and others aren’t. Is it airborne? Waterborne? Why are most zombies and a few aren’t? But, if they never answer that, I’m fine. its a mild curiousity. I mean, will Glenn change out of the blue? I love the show regardless…

    • Tiffsquatch

      As far as the comic is concerned (through issue 80) humans don’t just change out of the blue. There was probably a “patient 0″ of some sort somewhere that started the whole apocalypse. They bit someone, who bit someone, etc. One interesting thing is that even if you die of non-zombie related causes, you’ll still reawaken.

  • lisa

    The HOW and the WHY have been driving me nuts since the Sheriff woke up in the first episode !

    I mean if I woke up and everyone I new was either dead , walking around dead or missing I would want some answers along with my survival. I’m just sayin…

    Perhaps the producers could address these questions with some NON Answers.

    Like having the CDC guy tell the survivors that nobody really knows what caused the catastrophe. Simple enough and believable.
    And then have him give a brief description of how it all began around the country and the world for the survivors and the viewers.
    Enough said.
    That would resolve the nagging feeling of the unkown How & Why I get watching the show.

    Because if something like this really did happen there is a pretty good chance that NO ONE would know the HOW or the WHY.

    Because the people who would or could figure it out would either be dead or the walking dead.

    • Kitty

      Well, yeah. It’s not like they necessarily have to provide airtight answers; it’s just ridiculous to assume *nobody* would stop to ask why this is happening and how it might be prevented. I’m really glad the show’s producers seem to be thinking differently from Kirkman.

    • Mastik8

      As of this entry the only criticism I have is the lack of a how and why. I also think years of survivors wandering around dodging zombies will be as compelling as watching grass grow and prompt a serious fast forward addiction on the remote. Human nature being what it is the threat will eventually dull. Even the British during the blitz “remained calm” and went on with their lives, camp survivors’ testimony indicate they didn’t see the horror all around them after a while. I’d like to see how society reorganizes itself and gets on with the business of living while simultaneously dealing with zombies.

  • Rack

    I think the CDC aspect was only logical since they are in Atlanta. Also, I think cheating Lori plays coward Shane and Rick against each other when the going gets rough and she needs someone to take care of her. It disappoints me cuz its zombie apocalypse for pete’s sake and that’s the best way to act?

    It seems like they are walking into Frankenstein’s lab in the next episode.

    • Ian

      Shane told her that Rick was dead. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that something happened between them before the Zombiepocalypse, but she seemed to be acting merely on the false info that Shane had given her.

      • Qness

        Yes, Shane is a darn dirty dog for just telling Lori that Rick was dead BUT I can’t imagine just rolling up into another relationship of sorts right after all of that, in the midst a zombie infestation no less, while I’m trying to keep my young son safe. Sorry. Good grief. I mean, if someone told me my husband was dead and we were in the middle of zombiepocaylpse I would be happy to accept the help of his friends to keep my kids safe but I’m sure a heck not going to turn around and start sleeping with any of them. So I lean more towards the Something Happened Between Lori and Shane beforehand side than I could the Based On Shane’s Lies side.

      • Kristen Hicks

        Well, if that’s not the way that you would act, then it’s clearly unreasonable to think that any other person would act that way. It’s certainly not as though any person’s ever slept with their significant other’s friend under normal circumstances or anything.

      • steve

        Well i understand someone telling you that your husband is dead..But what the heck..She jumped right into the sack with her hubby’s friend like not long after he supposedly died?
        And with his BBF no less..Nope not buying that..
        She is just having second thoughts on what she did not that she was sorry..lol
        Rick needs to leave her ass and fast..

  • Mallory

    I’m with the author of this article: shoot any suspicious and anyone annoying. I should never be allowed to carry a gun around in real life. That being said, I like how Rick shows up and decides he’s the leader. Pfft, yeah right. Hey, I know you’ve been pretty comfortable here at this quaint camp, but let’s head to Atlanta (where I’ve been and know it’s bad). Idiot. I was so happy to see that one family stay behind. And the sister waiting for her little sister to come back was annoying, not emotional and wonderful. That was the stupidest bit of television I’ve seen since The Office wedding episode.

  • Francisco

    I’m so happy they made it to the CDC! It was the one glaring omission from the comic’s stories centered around Atlanta. Kudos to the TV shows writers, cast and crew for an excellent series so far!

    • JC

      I like the comic book and absolutley love the TV series BUT Kirkman admitting-without shame- that he has no clue about the CDC because he doesn’t watch the news is disturbing! I’m happy for his success but he needs to get in tune with the real world.

  • melissa

    I love this show soo much, just as long as glenn,dale,and daryl dont die!

  • yummycupcake

    I had to watch the whole Amy sequence with my hands in front of my eyes.

    • elr

      I KNOW! And then when she started to turn, I was screaming SHOOT HER! SHOOT HER!

    • elr

      I KNOW!!!! And then when she started to change I screamed SHOOT HER! SHOOT HER!

      • yummycupcake

        I was screaming “Why aren’t they running over to kill her?”

    • rerun

      My wife was freaking out.

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