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The Walking Dead: What's next? Who's in? What did finale mean?

The Walking Dead

Story by Jack Foley

NOW that the dust has settled on the bloody season 2 finale of The Walking Dead more clues have emerged about what to expect from the show as it considers its third season and why certain creative decisions are now starting to pay off.

Showrunner Glen Mazzara and executive producer/comic book creator Robert Kirkman have been speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about the season climax, the death of key characters and dropping hints about what to expect for the future.

First and foremost, the decision to bump off a few key series regulars – primarily Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Shane (Jon Bernthal) – was all part of the plan to, as Kirkman puts it, tp build ‘anticipation to the same level that it is in the comic book’.

“We’ve gotten to a point where viewers are surprised when we don’t kill someone; anybody can go at any moment… which is really exciting to me” he said.

And it seems that some of the show’s survivors have a lot to be thankful for. Scott Wilson’s Herschel, for example, was originally going to have met his maker in the same episode as Shane as ‘there was a script that was released where Randall escaped and killed Herschel and he died in the same episode with Randall and Shane’.

“[But] Herschel proved that there was a lot of story left to be told with him, which we’ll see in Season 3. So, he’s around for a while,” said Kirkman.

Adds Mazzara: “[That] was one of those examples where we won’t play a shocking death for the sense of death; we have to get something out of it. We got nothing out of it.

“If you look at the shot of Hershel looking back and seeing that barn burning and his farm completely lost to the zombies, that shot was well worth it because we see the farm was really a character and you can only see that through Hershel’s eyes. So it was the right call to keep him alive.”

Moving forward, Herschel could play a vital role in Rick’s development, as well as becoming something of an unlikely action hero.

And talking of Rick, the show’s leader and true hero, Kirkman and Mazzara have big things in store for him, describing his last act proclomation of ‘this ain’t a democracy anymore’ as pivotal to some of season three’s developments.

“The important thing to note is that no one leaves,” says Kirkman. “So, no matter what they think about what Rick did with Shane and how they feel about this revelation, they’re sticking by him. They may be sticking by him through loyalty or through fear. That’s something that we’ll be exploring in the third season… Rick is not going to be in a good place moving forward.”

The world, too, is changing. And while there won’t be any attempt soon to explain what caused the initial outbreak of the infection, Kirkman has revealed that the show is now “transitioning into a new world”.

“This has very much been a show about what’s going on in this world, how do we survive; everyone is scared.

“We’re going to be moving into a different world where everyone knows how to survive and they’re faced with more adversaries, danger and different kinds of threats. That’s very much what Season 3 is going to be about.”

This, in turn, enables more new characters to enter the fray, one of whom has already been seen saving Andrea – the sword-wielding Michonne (a comic favourite). Another is The Governor, who is set to be played by David Morrissey.

Commenting on the decision to introduce Michonne as part of the season finale, Kirkman said that it helped to hint at the wider world Season 3 will now explore.

“This is the first time we’ve seen someone who’s out in the wilderness, on their own. She certainly seemed capable. She saves Andrea and she’s carrying a sword. This is a very strange visual for fans of the show.

“Fans of the comic book know all about her and I’m sure are very excited to see her. I like to think about how the audience that just watches the show takes that. I think that that is such a bizarre and jarring image. It really speaks volumes as to what you’re going to be seeing in Season 3.”

Another final image seemed to suggest a prison as a backdrop, which again pays lip service to the comic book source, and which introduces the possibility of another favourite character – Tyreese – being introduced.

But when asked if the show would be following the comics more closely now, Kirkman would only answer: “I don’t want to spoil anything, but if people do want to run out there to grab those comics to look at them, they will get some glimpse of what’s coming up in Season 3.”

And asked whether Tyreese will be headed the show’s way, he added: “Tyreese could possibly be next. There are some other surprises that could also be next. We have this treasure trove of material to work from.

“We’ve told our farm story. We’ve told our Rick, Lori, Shane story to an extent. Now it’s time to put our characters out on the road and into the world. We know they’re at the gates of that prison. We know Michonne is in the world. Obviously people know from casting it that The Governor is out there.

“The prison does equal the governor’s story. I think we’re getting to the meat of Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead universe.”

Exciting stuff – that’s also going to be running for more episodes as a total of 16 have now been commissioned given the ratings surge that season 2 saw. We can’t wait.

Read the full interview or read our season 2 finale verdict