The Walking Dead‘s tense, brutal, gut-wrenching Season 3 finale is but a distant memory, and now series creator Robert Kirkman has some ‘splainin to do.
Why did Rick choose the prison over Woodbury as the gang’s home base? What was behind the decision to keep the beyond-redemption Governor around? Did viewer animosity towards Andrea contribute to the decision to whack her prematurely? And what was the deal with those damn pliers?!
Below, Kirkman answers all of those questions and offers a tantalizing sneak peek at the show’s fourth season (bowing in October).
TVLINE | Laurie Holden suggested it was somewhat of a last-minute decision to kill off Andrea. What led to the change in plans?
I wouldn’t say it was necessarily last minute. It wasn’t quite planned at the very beginning of the season. It came up in the development of the Woodbury story. There were a lot of different plans for the Andrea character, and as we started getting closer and closer to the last few episodes of the season, it started to become a little more clear the direction we wanted to go in. And the thing that would have the most impact on all of the characters was actually her death.
TVLINE | Did the fan backlash towards the character factor in at all?
That was never anything that worked into the decision-making process. Fan backlash isn’t something we use to make decisions. The death of Andrea was already shot well before these last eight episodes aired. So it’s not really even possible to use fan reaction to guide story.
TVLINE | Were you surprised by the criticism directed at her? And, looking back, would you do anything differently?
Looking back, there are probably a few things we could’ve done to stem that. It wasn’t our intention to have a small but vocal portion of the audience not really behind her. We really wanted to show this character as someone who was optimistic about the possibilities of Woodbury. In the end, it’s always a risk having the audience know something that the character doesn’t. But we felt it was important to show the optimism in her. To show, in a sense, how desperate she was to have something to hold on to and be optimistic about. Some audience members didn’t react favorably to that. I do think it was a misreading of the situation. I see a lot of people saying, “Why doesn’t she know the Governor is a bad guy?” We’re seeing a larger picture that the character is not seeing. And some audience members didn’t key into that as much as we would’ve liked them too.
TVLINE | Why did she spend so much time staring at Zombie Milton instead of picking up those damn pliers?
[Laughs] You know, it was a struggle. A very tense situation. If you’ve never been straped to a chair watching someone die before you I don’t know that you can really judge how someone behaved. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Why did Rick bring the Woodbury residents to the prison instead of relocating the prison folks to Woodbury?
The Governor is still out there. He’s already killed a great number of people from Woodbury. And I think they were able to repel him at the prison, so moving into Woodbury and setting up shop in his backyard – a place he’s very familiar with — would be very dangerous for Rick. They see the prison as something that is much more easily defended than Woodbury. They were able to get into Woodbury easily themselves. The Woodbury defenses are very effective against zombies, but not very effective against humans. They see it as much more of a defensible position.
TVLINE | Why keep the Governor around as a series regular next season?
That question will be answered [in] Season 4. We always had a plan for this guy. We always knew that it was a bigger story than would fit into one season. There’s still a lot more to be done with this guy. We’ve known from the very first minute of Season 3 that we would be keeping the Governor around for a while.
TVLINE | Will the prison remain the primary set piece in Season 4?
There’s always going to be new locations and new places to discover and explore. I don’t want to reveal too much; Season 4 is still five months away. But I will say that as we see at the end of Season 3 we’re definitely going to start Season 4 at the prison. We may be there the whole season and we may not be… But there are going to be some big differences from Season 3.