'Walking Dead' writer Robert Kirkman talks about tonight's game-changing season finale, 'Beside the Dying Fire'

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Image Credit: 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


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