The Walking Dead‘s mid-season finale, “Start to Finish,” left fans with a big cliff hanger, especially if fans watched the two-minute prologue to the next chapter during AMC’s Into the Badlands. Cliff hangers aren’t new to The Walking Dead fans, but still–we want answers.
The show’s producer, Scott M. Gimple, chatted with Entertainment Weekly in an interview about the action-packed mid-season finale and what the cliff hangers may mean for the story.
(See the original interview here.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The Alexandria siege takes place over several issues of the comic and we have certainly not seen the end of it here because these guys still need to make it out. Was there ever a point when you were going to try to jam all of this into a single episode?
SCOTT M. GIMPLE: Yeah, the books did break it up. With this, when going through all the story we had for the 16 episodes and the way we wanted to do it, one of the things that hit me was doing it differently than last year. I love doing eight episodes as a whole chapter and then being done, but we did that the last two half-seasons, and I just wanted to do it a little differently and play around with it a little bit. It’s not always going to be cliff-hangers. It’s not always going to be closed-ended chapters. It will be both and I felt like I wanted to do it that way for this. There is very much between episodes 8 and 9 this connection and this yin and yang thing going on, so hopefully after 9, people will get why. And especially after 10.
It’s a very interesting place to cut it, sort of on a cliff-hanger here with them trying to get out through the herd and Sam potentially starting to freak out. How did you settle on that spot?
It was when each character reached their point of what their goal was or their highest point of peril. It’s the promise of watching all of those stories play out–each one of them.
Comic fans know Douglas Monroe dies right around this time in the comic, but that doesn’t mean his TV counterpart Deanna had to die here because you change that stuff up all the time. So why did you decide to kill off Deanna here?
She died helping Rick. That’s exactly what happened with her. There’s no absolute equation to it, but just for her story, we felt that there are senseless deaths and random deaths, but there are also those deaths where the character achieves in some ways what they needed to achieve and the thing they were always moving towards–that final threshold. And she fighting the world side-by-side with Rick in the exact same way that Rick had done it–she had achieved that transformation, and there’s a cost to that transformation.
But even the way that she faced that transformation was heroic, and she was who she always was. So we got to return to who she was in some ways. It felt like her time and in many ways she was passing along thoughts to Michonne that are very important for Michonne moving forward.
It seems like what you’re saying is that her speech to Rick there about them all being Rick’s people, that is going to fundamentally change him somewhat and sink in a little bit.
Absolutely. I ‘m glad you brought that up, and frankly I wish that I had brought it up. You know what, if you could ask and answer the questions, we’ll do a lot better here. I was working last night on 6B so I’m a little frazzled. But really, that is one of the most important things about that story, is where did we start with Rick in 601. We started with him not feeling the Alexandrians are ready and if they’re not ready then too bad for them.
Or in 603, he’s saying a lot of them aren’t going to make it and you can’t let them pull you down. To Deanna saying to him–and she died in some ways to save Rick and keep him safe–they’re all his people. That’s one of the most important things for Rick to realize and to come to, and it doesn’t seem like he’s entirely come to it yet. And Deanna with one of her final breaths is trying to get that through to his soul.
This is the worst timing possible for people to be carrying out their own personal beefs, yet we have Ron trying to kill Carl, and Carol and Morgan getting into a big fight as well, all while there are hundreds of zombies outside. So what’s that all about?
That’s the pressure in the situation and the claustrophobia of the situation and feeling like there might not be a tomorrow. Before attacking Carl, Ron says, “We’re all dead, and it’s your dad’s fault.” It’s very easy for him to pull a gun on Carl when he’s feeling that despondent. For Carol and Morgan, the moment could not be more intense. It all had to do with the fact that they were shoved into the same space and it wasn’t a moment for discussion–no matter how much Morgan would have liked that. Morgan wasn’t like “Hey, let’s fight.” Morgan was like “Hey, let’s talk about this.” Carol couldn’t let it go and I basically sympathize with both of their points of view.
The Walking Dead returns in February.