'Walking Dead' writer Robert Kirkman talks midseason finale shocker

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Image Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Yikes!

The last time we spoke with Walking Dead executive producer Robert Kirkman he suggested fans might be “a little shocked” by tonight’s midseason finale, ‘Pretty Much Dead Already.’ The show very much proved he is a man of his word.

The good news was that the survivors finally found their precious Sophia (Madison Lintz). The bad? Their precious Sophia had transformed into a bloodthirsty ghoul, one who had to be put out of her misery by Rick (Andrew Lincoln).

Yikes, indeed!

Below, Kirkman — who is also a writer on the show and pens the Walking Dead comic — talks about the (second) death of Sophia and teases the second half of season 2.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So my TV broke about three minutes before the end of the episode. Did I miss anything?
ROBERT KIRKMAN: [Laughs] They all died. A comet came down and everyone melted.

All joking aside, I thought the shooting of the zombiefied Sophia did make for a fantastic end to this run of shows.
Thank you very much. Yes, we love shooting children here at the Walking Dead.

It was a great bait-and-switch. Even in this episode there was an awful lot of talk, both from Carl and Daryl, about the need to keep searching for Sophia. You totally had me fooled.
It’s good to know people didn’t see it coming. That’s a big concern when you have this kind of story line and you are leading to that kind of reveal. You don’t want people to be expecting it, especially in the Walking Dead. I pride myself in the fact that, when you pick up an issue of the comic, you don’t know what’s going to happen at any time. So any time we can work that into the show and maintain that in a television environment, it’s very exciting for me. I’m glad people are being caught off guard.

Did Madison Lintz play the zombie Sophia?
Oh yeah, that was her in makeup. That’s the consolation prize to finding out that you’re dying on the show. It’s never fun for an actor to learn that they’re being written out of the show and it’s a hard thing to do. It’s something that we never take lightly. But, you know, you’ve got to kill characters! On this show, you at least get the benefit of getting up and coming back as a zombie. That hopefully makes it a little less uncool.

Were you around when they shot that final scene?
I was not. But the writer of that episode, Scott Gimple, was on set and he did bring me back some shell casings from the blanks that were fired into the zombies at the barn. In the writer’s room we refer to that scene as “Barnageddon.”

There’s no doubt this season has featured a slower pace than the first. Did the fact that you had this twist in your back pocket give you the confidence to do that?
Possibly. It’s weird. It’s not like we sat down and decided that we were going to move at a slower pace. But I guess you can’t really dispute that. We were kind of talking our time with things. It was always supposed to be this episode that this was revealed.  There wasn’t any kind of milk-things-for-all-they’re-worth decision. I think we were just moving at a deliberate but somewhat relaxed pace.

Can we assume Hershel knew all along that Sophia was in the barn?
You can certainly assume that.

The reason I ask is, rewatching the episode, the scenes between Hershel and Rick seem very portentous in terms of Hershel trying to convince Rick that zombies are just sick people. I assumed he was trying to prepare Rick for seeing the zombie Sophia.
If I were to put on my detective hat I would say that, if Hershel did know that Sophia was in the barn, he might have just said, “Oh yeah, that girl’s sick, we’re keeping her in the barn.” So it’s entirely possible that he didn’t know. We’ll find out very early on in the return episode coming up this February.

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Image Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Nice plug! Going back to the previous episode, when Rick found out that Lori was pregnant it’s interesting he didn’t ask if he was the father whereas Shane immediately insisted that the kid had to be his.
I think Rick is smart enough to know that the kid’s either his or Shane’s and there may not be any way of ever finding out that definitively. And bringing that up to his wife, who he loves, is only going to be painful for her. I think that’s him being a good husband and him showing his tremendous leadership ability in that he can put his self aside for the betterment of someone else.

A lot of people, including me, assumed the message Jenner whispered to Rick at the CDC last season was that Lori was pregnant. But Rick seemed to be genuinely surprised by the news, which would suggest that is not the case.
When we reveal exactly what Jenner whispered, we will reveal what Jenner whispered. It’s not going to come in like an “Oh, was that it?”-kind of way. You’ll know that we’re revealing that when we do it.

Dale’s plan to hide all the guns? That was a terrible plan.
[Laughs] Nobody’s perfect! And, look, it’s very important in this world to show people making mistakes. Dale had the best of intentions and was trying to make a tough situation go away to a certain extent. But, yeah, not the wisest move. I think it’s interesting to watch people mess up. I hate it when I watch a television show and everybody seems to be making the right decision at all times. That’s just unrealistic.

Prior to the shooting of Sofia, it looked like things were heating up a little between Carol and Daryl. Is calling someone a “stupid bitch” what passes for “going a-courting” in the Dixon universe?
[Laughs] Yeah, that seems like a term of endearment on his part, right?

Almost.
Look, there’s not a lot of people in this world and people are going to start pairing off. Whether their relationship is a very strong friendship or if it’s something romantic remains to be seen. But there definitely seems to be something going on between those two.

What can we expect from the the second half of the season?
All kinds of awesome stuff. These people are going to be pitted against each other now. Hershel’s been keeping these walkers a secret and now they find out that Sophia’s been in the barn the whole time. Shane isn’t going to suddenly calm down. That’s something I should probably point out. I mean, he was pretty angry there at the end of this episode. He was probably a little shocked by Sophia coming out of the barn but I wouldn’t expect him to put his gun down and be like, “Okay, well, I’m good now.” So there’s going to be tremendous amounts of conflict that comes from that and there’s going to be a lot of aftermath dealing with the shocking revelation and there’s going to be a lot of crazy new stuff thrown into the mix. I think we’re going to see some new characters very early on, introduced in our first episode back. There’s going to be a lot of cool stuff coming up.

Are any of the new characters African-American ladies who are handy with swords?
I couldn’t say.

Read more:
‘Walking Dead’ recaps
‘The Walking Dead': Writer Robert Kirkman talks about tonight’s episode and teases next week’s ‘shocking’ finale

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