The Walking Dead EP Defends Cliffhanger Ending, Teases Season 7's 'Boundary-Pushing' Death Scene

The Walking Dead Season 7 Spoilers

You thought the final moments of Sunday’s Walking Dead were tough to watch? Wait until you get a load of the first scene of Season 7.

In a conference call with reporters on Monday, showrunner Scott M. Gimple revealed that the opening sequence (which will pick up right where the finale left off) will “be pushing some boundaries” in terms of blood and gore. “Things are going to start of very, very, very dark,” he said, before adding, “But that won’t be the whole season. It’s not going to be darkness upon darkness upon darkness.”

Gimple went on to tease that in the first eight episodes of Season 7 “the world is going to open up even more. We’re going to have a wide variety of locales and a wide variety of tone. I’m very excited for all the different stories that are going to be told, and there are going to be a lot of different stories told… There’s probably going to be the biggest variety of stories we’ve had yet.”

Other hot topics Gimple tackled during the press conference:

On viewer backlash to that ambiguous closing scene | “If you approach it from a place of skepticism or with the idea that there’s some kind of negative or cynical motivation behind it… it’s difficult to convince you otherwise. I do think we’ve done enough on the show and we’ve delivered a story that people have enjoyed [to warrant fans giving] us the benefit of the doubt. I truly hope that people will see [the Season 7 premiere] and feel it justifies the way we’ve decided to tell the story.”

On residual fan anger over “Dumpstergate,” including the decision to temporarily remove Steven Yeun’s name from the opening credits | “I know that in my heart it was about protecting the audience’s experience. There’s a great deal of meta that goes on around the show. If I left [Steven’s] name in I think there might’ve been criticism in another direction, [i.e. people complaining we’re] being sloppy or not protecting the audience’s experience. I can see that for people that choose to look at it cynically, it [would appear we took his name out because] we were trying to trick in some way. But really I wanted the audience to go through an emotional experience, and I didn’t want something like the credits to get in the way of that. It’s an incredibly smart audience, it’s an incredibly plugged-in audience. Every cue is looked at. I thought it would be safer for their experience to take [Steven’s] name out then to leave it in and shrug my shoulders. It really is all about the story and the audience’s experience of the story. We do care about our audience a great deal. We don’t enjoy the pain that they go through.”

On precautions being taken to preserve the identity of the victim between now and next fall | “It is very, very difficult nowadays. We are working hard to protect [the reveal]… I sure hope it doesn’t leak in any way, but the world is what the world is.”

On whether fans can find legit clues as to who Negan whacked by studying the final sequence | “I believe there’s no way. There are a couple of things in there that might help people possibly limit the amount of people who are vulnerable, [but] I truly don’t think there’s a way to puzzle it out definitively.”

On the theme of Season 7 | “A big part of it is, “How do you begin again?” The world is not what they thought it was. How do you basically start over in this new world? All of these characters – even the [ones] that weren’t in that lineup – are in a position where they will learn the world isn’t what they thought it was and it will challenge them as far as how they choose to move forward and who they want to be.”

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