You know how sometimes you lose track of a friend? And they start shacking up with a deranged post-apocalyptic dictator who tortures a couple of your other pals, and wants you dead, and dumps a van full of human flesh-hungry zombies on your doorstep? And then your friend comes round to visit and things get a little, well, aw-kward? Then you will have been unsurprised by the most recent episode of AMC’s undead show the Walking Dead.
Below, Walking Dead TV show executive producer — and Walking Dead comic writer — Robert Kirkman talks about the Rick-Andrea reunion, why Greg Nicotero is not just for the gory things in life, and, of course, Tom Waits.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This episode was hardly incident-free. But it did seem to be the calm-before-the-storm that we thought last week’s show was going to be—until that climactic shoot-out.
ROBERT KIRKMAN: Yeah. It was a little bit of moving the chess pieces around the board, getting ready to get crazy. Things are going to get crazy pretty soon. There’s some big stuff coming.
Are you a good chess player?
Me? Like I am at everything, I’m pretty mediocre.
It was very strange seeing Rick regard Andrea with such suspicion.
That’s something we are doing to remind people of the fact that Andrea really has been away from them for a very long time. She was in the woods with Michonne for longer than she was with Rick and the other group. There was a lot of passage of time between seasons and she’s been in Woodbury for a while. So because of that time passage everyone is kind of on edge. I don’t think Andrea really knows what to expect from Rick and vice versa.
What was going through Andrea’s head as she stood over the Governor with the knife?
Well, I don’t want to give too much away because there’s some stuff coming up. I think that she was definitely considering it or she wouldn’t have been there. You know, I think killing someone that close up, a human being, with a knife, that’s one thing that is still sort of a bridge too far for [many] people in this universe. It’s important to note that these people are killing zombies left and right all day long and some of them are crossing over that line to killing people. But I don’t think Andrea has quite gotten there just yet.
That scene seemed to have obvious cliffhanger potential. Were you tempted to end the show with Andrea standing over the Governor?
There’s always that kind of temptation to leave things are a little big more cliffhangery. I know that I do that quite a bit in the comic. But I think it’s enough that she was there, that that scene happened. You don’t want to come back next week following up a bit of business from that episode. It’s something that we do in the comics but I don’t know that it works quite as well on the TV show, to open an episode with previous business that may or not fit thematically with what’s going on in the episode. I think when people see episode 12 — which is a really cool, almost vignette side story episode that I don’t want to give too much away about — they’ll see that kind of thing wouldn’t have carried over very well.
Next: “I love there’s something in the mix to remind people this show is insane.”