'The Walking Dead:' Showrunner Scott Gimple does a deep dive on Sunday's shocking episode

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Image Credit: Gene Page/AMC

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EW: How exactly does one go about telling two sweet little girls they are about to die incredibly horrible deaths? I mean, you’ve had to make those calls before to Scott Wilson and what have you. But I imagine it’s different when you are dealing with a child.
GIMPLE: Well, it’s face to face whenever we can. The thing is, like I said, we knew where this story was going before when these gals were cast. So I was hinting at things going really badly from the moment we started. And they are both incredibly bright and talented and mature performers. We talked very candidly about everything from before we even started, so it was difficult and I talked to their moms first. But it wasn’t wholly unexpected. I was trying to lay the groundwork for that from the beginning. And they knew. Everybody was like, “Who is killing the rats?” and they knew. I didn’t share that with everybody, but the little girls did have that secret. I told Brighton and Kyla about their character’s histories and what led up to this. And Lizzie had her problems before the apocalypse. And it was just an incredible thing to lay it all out and see that groundwork from the beginning and slowly dole it out and see them grow close to Carol. And in episode 10, it was really something to see the reaction to people seeing Lizzie almost smother Judith, because that was a bit of a reveal at that point. Not to mention the bunny rabbits. Those poor bunny rabbits.

EW: Let’s talk about the Carol and Tyreese scene at the end, which obviously could have played out a few ways. Was there ever a scenario discussed where Tyreese does not forgive Carol?
GIMPLE: It was very important to me that we have this moment of grace from the beginning. And I remember talking to Chad Coleman at the beginning of the season — knowing where the story was going — and telling him that, you know, things in the apocalypse for Tyreese had not been sooooo terrible. He had lost people like anybody, but things that directly hit him, it hadn’t happened until Karen was killed. And I told him things were going to be very, very rough for him this year, and that he would come to a place where he would have every reason to lash out for revenge, and that through everything he had been up to at that point, Tyreese would find grace. He would find forgiveness. And this was all without telling him what everything was about, just a general arc. But it was very important to me that in the context of such darkness, there be some light. And Tyreese is a character, being such a humanistic character, that’s the way I believe he would go. I’m not excited about things that are just relentlessly dark — that are just one thing. I get excited about stories that really do show every part of the human experience, and even in that horrible, horrible, horrible situation, there was some good that came out of it. There was grace. I was so thrilled to see how it came out.

EW: It’s definitely a theme I’ve noticed in these back eight episodes. In the first Rick and Carl episode you had the lighter moment at the end with the knock at the door and Rick says, “It’s for you.” Then you had it in the Daryl and Beth episode where they burn the house down at the end. Then you had it last week with Bob, Maggie, and Sasha all smiling when they are reunited on the train tracks. I’ve definitely noticed that even in these brutal episodes, many of them are ending on a note of hope.
GIMPLE: I think this show at its core is hopeful. Thee people are trying to remain people in extraordinarily bad circumstances, and to me that is one of the most hopeful things in the world. The thing about that is, if things do get light, if there are smiles, if there is love, if there is friendship and forgiveness and grace, it makes the darker things that much more dark and makes the defeats that much more crushing. And I will say that in my mind when Tyreese forgives Carol, in some ways, that is just a crushing thing. That’s a devastatingly sad thing, a reminder of  the goodness of the world — and yet, they lost these little girls. They had seen how the world destroys, but it isn’t so easy to say the world is just a destructive place or just an evil place, With that there could be some sort of surrender. To know that life can be good to is both heartening and extremely painful.

EW: Is that smoke we saw last night from the fire that Daryl set?
GIMPLE: I keep getting asked that and I refuse to give a definitive answer. Because I don’t want to tell you what it is. If I wanted folks to believe that definitively, I would have somehow tied that in definitively, but I want people to decide that. In the end, I have very hard feelings about what everything means, but I would never tell the audience they’re wrong. Unless it was a story point that we were very specific about.

EW: Was Greg Nicotero like a kid in a candy store coming up with those charbroiled zombies?
GIMPLE: We had done charbroiled zombies in the past but I wanted them to be still smoking. And that was some amazing work. We had extra crispy and original style, which was like half-crispy.

EW: Okay, just two more episodes left, sir. What can you tell us about where we go from here after that incredibly emotional installment?
GIMPLE: To the emotional conclusion of the season. Both episodes are really big episodes. There are some insane things that happen. There are some tragic things that happen, There are some things that happen that are hopeful. And there is just some remarkably dark stuff. And stories crashing together.

EW: So we may see some groups reuniting by chance?
GIMPLE: Possibly. Maybe.

EW: Those train tracks gotta be leading somewhere, right, Scott?
GIMPLE: Or it’s just like Where the Sidewalk Ends.

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