Post Mortem: Walking Dead Boss Defends Last Night's Big [Spoiler], Teases Shocking Finale

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 12WARNING: If you have yet to watch The Walking Dead‘s next-to-last Season 2 episode tonight, run don’t walk to the nearest exit. We’re serious, folks. The following Q&A with showrunner Robert Kirkman contains massive spoilers. Trust us on this one. Everyone else, you may proceed…

This Just In: The Walking Dead is not fooling around anymore. One week after viewers watched in horror as Dale literally had his guts ripped out, AMC’s mega-hit went a step further in its penultimate Season 2 episode and whacked another, far more pivotal character: Shane!

Sure, the warning signs were there — on screen and off. For starters, Shane had become increasingly unhinged as Season 2 wore on, making Sunday’s deadly confrontation with frenemy Rick all the more inevitable. Also, as fans of the Walking Dead comic know full well, the TV character actually survived longer than his literary counterpart. Oh, and as you may’ve heard, Shane’s portrayer, Jon Bernthal, recently landed a starring role in former Dead exec producer Frank Darabont’s TNT pilot L.A. Noir.

Yet, the death of Shane — who, for all intents and purposes, was the show’s co-lead — nonetheless packed a punch, mostly because it sends a loud and clear message that absolutely no one (save for Rick) is safe. And if the episode itself didn’t adequately relay that, our post mortem with Robert Kirkman should. Read on as Dead‘s main creative force reveals why Shane had to die, how Bernthal reacted (read: he wasn’t pleased), whether Jenner’s secret message to Rick has already been revealed, and when the next major death will come (hint: very soon).

TVLINE | How long did you know that you were going to kill Shane off this early on in the series?
Before the first episode of Season 1 was shot. [Laughs] Frank always talked about how, if the first season had been 13 episodes, we would’ve went ahead and told the entire Shane story and killed him off at the end of the season, which was pretty much what we did in the comics. But because that was a six-episode season instead of a normal-sized season, we decided to hold it for Season 2.

TVLINE | Did you ever consider not following the comics and letting him survive – if not through the entire run of the series then maybe just another season or two? The Rick-Shane dynamic was such a major part of the show.
There was a lot of back-and-forth when we were mapping out the second season. I’ll admit even I — who killed him in the comic — was saying there were a lot of interesting things that could come out of keeping him in the show. We had a lot of fun [writing for the character] in the second season because there were a lot of things that changed from the comic. Having him exist on Hershel’s Farm brought out new stories and made us do some cool new things that were different from the comic. And I’m always for that kind of stuff because I like to keep things interesting. But at the end of the day, what we kept coming back to is that The Walking Dead is much more about Rick and his journey than it is about Shane and his journey. And keeping Shane around was, in a sense, stealing from Rick. It was time to let Rick emerge and see how Shane’s death affected him and how it informed his decisions. And I think that when people see the last episode of this season — and Season 3 — and where Rick goes because of this, they’ll see that this is all part of the larger plan. [His death] is definitely an important moment. And it really sucked to lose Jon Bernthal, but it’s going to make the show that much better and that much more deadly. Having lost Dale and Shane, now you really get the sense that any of these characters could go at any moment. And we’re definitely going to be continuing that in Season 3. This finally tells people, “This is what The Walking Dead is. This is what you can expect.”

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TVLINE | How far in advance did Jon know that this was going to be his final episode?
He always knew he was going to die, but there was a question of exactly which episode it was going to be. That moved around quite a bit. It wasn’t until we were actually breaking the last half of Season 2 that we nailed it down to a specific episode.

TVLINE | How did he react?
Honestly, he was bummed. The actors have become a family, and they really love working together. They’re kind of isolated in Georgia where they shoot; they spend a lot of time together when they’re not filming. But every actor knows that on this show… I think Sarah Wayne Callies has been quoted as saying that she knows it’s not a matter of if she’s going to die but when; that’s what the show is. But it’s still very sad when actors have their last day on set. Jon was definitely upset. But he understood. He knew why we were doing it and what was going on. He was accepting of it.

TVLINE | Was he satisfied creatively with Shane’s final arc?
Absolutely. All of the actors are really great collaborators and have good ideas, and when Jon read the death scene he definitely had some questions and some suggestions. And he worked a lot with [the episode's writers] Glen Mazzara and Evan Reilly to try and beef it up. He had some little notes and they came to an understanding and really convinced Jon that this is what the scene needs to be. There was a lot of back-and-forth, and in the end Jon really loved the scene.

TVLINE | What was your reaction when news leaked that Jon had been cast in L.A. Noir?
It was an unfortunate mishap [that resulted from AMC] moving the last half of the season until February instead of just running it straight through. If we had aired it all in succession and ended in December it wouldn’t have been a problem. But by holding back the season, [the news] did kind of spoil things. It was a bummer that it spoiled the show to a certain extent, but I was happy for Jon. I think it’s exciting for him to be working for Frank again and I’m really looking forward to seeing that show. And it’s cool to know that Jon is constantly working. The tough thing for me is that when I kill a character in a comic book I am making the artist, Charlie Adlard, draw a different arrangement of lines from now on. Killing a character doesn’t really affect anybody but the readers. But when you kill a character on a TV show you are, in a sense, firing an actor. And the thing that upsets me about that is it’s always about the story; it’s never about the actor’s performance. And I’m a blue-collar guy, so if you fire somebody you need to have a reason. So it’s really upsetting to me every time we have to kill a character. So to know that Jon has another job makes me happy. Because I feel guilty about the whole firing thing.

Walking Dead Spoiler Alert: Meet Season 3’s Big Baddie

TVLINE | Shane turning into a zombie in the end pretty much confirms that everyone’s already infected. Can you confirm that that’s what Jenner whispered in Rick’s ear?
[Hesitates] Well, I can’t confirm that. But what I can say is that Shane turning after being stabbed definitely does inform Rick revealing what Jenner whispered, in the next episode.

TVLINE | So we’ll finally find out what he whispered in next week’s finale?
Yes.

TVLINE | Does Rick debate sharing this newfound intel with the others, or does the approaching zombie stampede delay that?
Yeah, there’s sh-t ton of zombies on the way to the farm, so he’s not going to have a lot of time for that.

TVLINE | This does raise the question about the dead bodies in the season-opening traffic jam — why hadn’t they all been turned?
I think if you go back and watch that [sequence you'll see] we were very careful to have them be in cars that were in accidents, so the brain would’ve had trauma. Or they had some kind of wounds somewhere on their heads to show that their brains had been killed, like somebody came across and killed them. We knew that we were building to this throughout the entire season.

TVLINE | I know you can’t name names, but have you quietly made any decisions to spare someone’s life on the show who died in the comics?
Dale’s death in the comic book came way later than it did in the TV show. And Shane’s death in the comic book came way sooner than it did in the TV show. So that’s pretty much the model that we’re going to be following throughout the life of the series. Some characters will die before they reached the point that they reached in the comic book series, and some people will outlast their comic-book counterpart. And that’s going to be done to keep things interesting [and] because it’s not just me writing the television show. There are five or six other people that have good ideas that are contributing to the show, and it would be wrong to go, “That’s a good idea but that’s not how we did it in the comics.” There will definitely be differences. You can’t use the comic book to gauge when or how someone is going to die.

TVLINE | Will there be another major death next week?
I can say that the cast that enters the final episode this season does not leave the final episode intact. And there are a lot of surprises still yet to come.

TVLINE | Will the finale end on a cliffhanger, as in mid-scene? Or will it be more similar to the Season 1 finale, which ended in a more resolute place?
It’s not quite a true cliffhanger, but it’s much closer to a cliffhanger than what we had last season.

TVLINE | And lastly, will T-Dog be allowed to speak again?
[Laughs] T-Dog definitely has a lot of cool moments in the finale and a lot of lines. I apologize for that. It’s one of those things where certain characters have to recede into the background to give room to the other characters because we have such a large cast. But every character will get their moment to shine — T-Dog included.

What did you think of the episode and, specifically, Shane’s death? Deposit your snappy judgments in the comments, and then check out Ask Ausiello Tuesday for even more scoop on next Sunday’s Dead finale (including who most definitely won’t be in it).

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511 Comments
  1. Katherine says:

    This turn of events really makes it much creepier for everyone, you never know who might jump up and get you.

  2. clc says:

    Quit watching it then

  3. Dan says:

    Did i miss something???? Who is Jenner??? Plus i dont remember anyone whispering anything to Rick. Did i just miss something??????

  4. streetdocswife says:

    I don’t think Shane was turning into a zombie before Rick stabbed him. Killing someone execution style would be very hard for a trained “protect and serve” police officer. He was slapping himself in the head to harden his resolve to do what he thought Rick was to weak to do. Meaning execute Randall. That was why Rick holstered his gun after they exited the woods. Even though Shane was ruled by his anger and resentment, he could not shoot an unarmed man. This is also why Shane walks over to Randall after slapping himself in the head. He realized Randall was helpless and handcuffed, and his death would have been cold blodded murder. A much different senario than Otis. Shane knew time was running out, and leaving Otis as zombie bait was a way for him to get away and save Carl. It wasn’t until he pulled Randall away from the wall to confirm he was handcuffed and couldn’t defend himself that a new plan hatched. If you re-watch the episode, you can almost see the wheels beging to turn in his brain as his facial expressions change. In his mind he thinks of a way to kill Randall without it being murder. He thinks of himself as “saving a broken woman, and a weak boy”. For that reason he thinks he is justified in killing Randall and Rick. Shane hesitates to kill Rick because he mistakenly assumes Rick is too weak to kill him first. That hesitation was his last mistake.
    ***And btw in an earlier post someone asked why Rick wasn’t a zombie because Shane saw him die in the hospital. That’s not at all true. Rick was in a coma, not dead. The last time Shane was able to visit before the city was completely over run by zombies, he secured Rick’s door by placing a gurney in front to barricade and try and protect Rick as best he could. He assumed there was no way for Rick to survive.
    ***It wouldn’t break my heart to see Lori die. She is one horrible manipulative woman.

  5. kevin says:

    I don’t think that lori did that on purpose. Lori is smart enough to know that if anything would have really unhinged shane that he would probably go after Rick. Just from the scene and how it played out….it did come across as if Lori was sincerely sorry for how everything had affected Shane. The problem is she let her emotions get the better of her instead of thinking it through. She just completely misplaced any type of common sense in that scene. I mean really it had to happen..something had to happen with Shane because if he didn’t snap when he did, it would have been at some point. The world they live in is savage enough as it is without having someone like Shane snap at some point when his psyche wouldn’t be able to handle everything crushing down on him. How bad would it have been if at some point he just completely lost it mentally. When that happens you can’t really control it. If he had run that course on his own without any spurring towards that it could have really come at the most inopportune of times. The way it happened actually flowed through pretty well. Lori was definately guilty of making a very stupid mistake though when she apologized to Shane. The very definition of a lapse in judgement.

    • Joy says:

      Lori makes a LOT of lapses in judgment. If there’s one person on the show who consistently keeps making mistakes, it’s her. Even Carl doesn’t make the kinds of mistakes she does, and he’s a kid!

      That being said, I do feel sorry for Shane (but I know he had to go). If anyone’s noticed, Shane has saved Rick, Lori, Carl, Lori, Carl, Lori again and again. And what’s his ending? The family he keeps saving screws him over and ends up killing him. Irony indeed.

  6. fishyjoe says:

    @Dan Yeah you missed Season 1’s finale.

  7. CipS says:

    I think the title “The walking dead” refers to the ones still alive but already dead because they are infected…it`s just a matter of when and how they die! best tv series ever..

  8. Jim says:

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  9. Tammy says:

    I think Meryl will appear as the head of the “gang” they were so afraid of?( the young guy that Shane killed) And Daryl will come face to face with his brother! They will flee for their lives from the farm!

    • WalkersRUS says:

      Hate to burst your idea but they’ve already cast the actor who will play the leader of the other “gang” (group” and its not Merle. Although, I would agree that Merle would have been a good plot twist. By the way the leader of the other group is known as ” ” – oops, can’t/won’t say. Watch the show!!!

  10. Oli says:

    I jus hope they don’t kill of Glenn he is my favorite character if he dies I’m done with the walking dead

  11. twdfanboi says:

    Noob here… Did shane slice his hand a second time after stabbing a zombie in the head when he was trapped on the bus? Could that be when he got infected?

  12. WalkersRUS says:

    What I want to know is why in season 1 were the military shooting the hospital staff (doctors and nurses etc.) but the soldier didn’t kill Rick (when he was in his coma) when he opened the door to his room (when Shane was hiding on the far side of the bed)????

  13. mackie says:

    Maybe the guard didn’t think Rick was alive and figured he would be wasting a bullet on an already dead guy. The outbreak had just started so maybe they didn’t know to shoot the head yet, remember there was a whole room of walkers locked up still moving with a sign that said alive inside if i remember it right.

  14. Mike says:

    BRAINS!!!!!!

  15. RoninSherwin says:

    Well, I don’t even watch the show (But I sure might start) and I’ve only read the first book, but I have the survivors guide, and that helps a lot. Shane died really early in the series, and Lori died when the Governor shot her, Carl gets shot in the eye by Douglas, the leader of the safe haven of Alexandria. He gets dropped off to a docter named Denise I think, and I’m not sure if he dies, it doesn’t say. I really hope they stay to the book. Oh, and is Michonne in the series yet?

  16. Evan says:

    put season 2 on netflix you will be more famous

  17. Flower says:

    What? I thought Shane turned because of him using the knife to kill zombies, and using the same knife to cut himself on the bus. How does that just prove how “everyone’s infected” when it’s obvious that he’ll turn into a walker wether he was already infected or not?

    • Mandy B says:

      No. I think everyone is infected because it’s airborne or something like that. Good point though – Shane and Rick both cut their hands with knives that killed walkers. And Daryl impaled himself with an arrow used to kill walkers too. Plus everyone handled the dead walkers and everything else. My thoughts on this are that Jenner suspected that everyone was infected and knew that he was (probably checked his blood). When he took blood samples from Rick and company, I bet that was why he checked it.

  18. Kim says:

    Shane was why I watched the show… I’m done with I now

  19. Kim says:

    Done with it now… I meant

  20. audel says:

    no penis jesssica

  21. Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe that this website needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the info!

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