Sunday’s Walking Dead midseason finale featured gunfights galore, exploding fish tanks, tense confrontations, surprise comebacks (Shane!), child zombie murder (Penny!), adult human murder (Oscar!) and a doozy of a cliffhanger.
Below, series creator Robert Kirkman helps make sense of what went down during the action-packed hour and offers a peek at what’s to come when the show returns on February 10.
TVLINE | I’m impressed you were able to keep Jon Bernthal’s return a secret. How’d you pull that off?
We stepped up security. And everyone is a little more mindful of just how many eyes are on this set and on this production. It was extremely difficult. Jon was working on the Martin Scorsese movie The Wolf of Wall Street and he flew into Atlanta and… we had to guard him at all times. It was quite an undertaking keeping this under wraps.
TVLINE | Shane was conspicuously not among the voices from the past Rick heard on the prison phone a few episodes back. Were you intentionally saving him for this episode?
Exactly. We didn’t want to telegraph things too much. If people knew he was in the mix it would’ve been a little less surprising if he showed up when he did. So it was a little preservation at work there.
TVLINE | Rick went from hearing ghosts to seeing them. Is he completely losing it?
That guy definitely has issues. He’s a person who’s bearing the weight of everyone’s survival on his shoulders, and I think that’s become a little bit unbearable. And his wife died. He’s certainly spiraling out of control. Now he’s starting to see things. It’s definitely a real problem.
TVLINE | Andrea finally started asking some tough questions of the Governor, which may blunt some of the fan grumbling that she’s been utterly clueless this season. Care to defend her state of mind?
There’s a lot of wishful thinking going on there. I will defend to my dying day that if you were in [her] situation and you were presented with Woodbury you would want that to be [real] more than anything else in the world. And it’s about her desire to want the Governor to be the person she wants him to be, and she wants Woodbury to be the place she wants it to be. And it’s clouding her judgment to a certain extent. And I think we’re all guilty of that at times. It is hard for the audience to realize that she is not seeing all of the things that we are seeing. You have to keep that in mind. But now she’s becoming a little bit more aware of what exactly is going on. She’s seen Penny. She’s seen the fish tanks full of severed heads…
TVLINE | Why did Michonne remain silent during her showdown with Andrea? She had an opportunity to get her up to speed on a few things and she didn’t take it. Why?
Michonne is a very cautious character. She’s not quick to act. She watches her surroundings and makes very informed decisions based on that. This was a moment of heartbreak for her. She was there to get revenge on the Governor but also to save Andrea to a certain extent. By allowing Andrea to see her in that moment out of context she knew that there was nothing she could say that wouldn’t seem like she was trying to hide something or justify her actions in some way. She clearly [looks like] the villain there. As far as Andrea knows, she just came in and totally attacked that guy. That was the moment she [realized] that she lost Andrea forever.
TVLINE | How will Penny’s “death” affect the Governor?
It will radically change the Governor that we’ve come to know. We’ve definitely seen his dark side; we know that he’s definitely not a good person. But we haven’t seen him activated to the extent that he’s going to be activated in the back half of the season. He’s going to be much more engaged and a little bit more aware of the threat that the prison represents and he’s going to be on the warpath to a certain extent.
TVLINE | Wasn’t the Governor taking a risk parading Daryl out in public like that? It’s only going help Andrea connect the dots faster.
That’s entirely true and that might be something that he wants. His tactic now might be to be a lot more open with her and to see where the chips fall. And also to show her, “Hey, look: These are your people and they attacked us.” People died in that attack. It was definitely something that disrupted Woodbury. If anything I would say that it was his first step in testing her loyalty.
TVLINE | Why did you decide that now was the right time to introduce another character from the comics, in this case Tyrese?
You always have to be injecting new blood into the show or else we would have a cast-less show. [Laughs] And moving into the second half of this season, we thought it would be a good time to add in new elements while we’re wrapping up some things and setting up some big conflicts. We thought it was a good time to throw another factor into this two-group conflict. We’re trying to mix things up a bit.
TVLINE | Is TV Tyrese fundamentally the same as Comic Book Tyrese?
Definitely. There’s always going to be deviations on what’s set up in the comic book. But I think Tyrese is going to be one of the characters that’s pretty [similar].