Wondering what happens to our favorite zombie apocalypse survivors in Sunday night's season 2 finale of The Walking Dead? I just joined a group of other journos in speaking with showrunnner Glen Mazzara about it. Learn what he had to tell us after the jump. But be warned: if you haven't seen the last couple of episods, there are big spoilers ahead!
On whether the nuts and bolts of the virus will be further explained: "I like our characters being in the dark. We've been very faithful, especially in this second season and moving ahead, to Robert's comic book. The survivors on the ground don't have a lot of that information. They're just trying to live in this post-apocalyptic world. That's something that I think is one of the rules of The Walking Dead. We really don't know what's going on, and it's a matter of ‘How do we survive?' That's the paramount question. We'll answer some questions, and then always have other questions. But it's actually more exciting when our characters don't know what's going on and don't know if they'll ever be safe again."
On whether it was always planned for Shane to die when he did: "It was always the plan, coming into this season, for Shane to die. That was something that we had worked out from day 1, and that was a storyline that was taken from the comic book. We moved that up to episode 12. That was not a finale. We moved that up because as we started working on the material in the back half, and as we changed the pacing of the show, that story just ended up moving up. We just had a much better finale to land on.
On the fact that Carl killed Shane in the comics: "We do want to see Carl grow into that badass, [but] Shane's death really became about Rick taking action. That's a very, very personal death. So my paramount concern was our lead character, Rick. Here's a guy who's best friend who he's given every opportunity to; they beat the hell out of each other two episodes prior. He even gives him a gun and says, "You need to find your way back. He's overlooking the fact that there's been this affair. He's really given this guy every chance to repent, and the fact that Shane is leading him out to his murder… Rick has had enough. Rick has to take action. So that murder became about Rick. We realized there were concerns that it was different than the comic book. Obviously Carl shoots him in the comic book. But we did not want Rick to be passive and just watch his son kill Shane. We did not think that that was the right story. It had to be Rick's story."
"In the comic book, Carl shoots human Shane and Rick executes zombie Shane. We had the reverse. And we thought that was a nice playful twist, to still orchestrate a scene, but in a way [with which] comic book fans would be surprised. As we start using some of the more famous storylines from The Walking Dead comic book, we realize fans have an expectation of certain material; and we realize fans might get frustrated if we deviate too much from material.We're still gonna own it. We're gonna do it our way, in a way that makes sense in the rules of our world."
On whether Carl will feature more in season 3: "We do have a strong storyline for him in season 3. We're very interested in showing how he's growing up in this world. The tension that that leaves between him and the rest of that group. Chandler's done a fantastic job and brought this character to life in a way that we're excited about writing. He will certainly be featured."
On whether we'll see the beginning of the outbreak: "I feel like that story's been told in many zombie movies and many outbreak type movies. We've seen that. You can even do it using a map at the end of Planet of the Apes. Maybe that's something we would go back and do [in a] standalone movie. Maybe that's something we can do in a webisode. But it's not something that really interests me or comes up with the writers. I'm not particularly interested in using flashbacks or going in and filling in bits of people's histories. And I would consider showing how the outbreak started in flashback, [but] I'm not interested in that. I want to propel the story forward. There's a lot of adrenaline involved in a story. That's just my natural inclination as a storyteller. I don't want to go back. I want to keep people guessing. I want to keep people confused on the edge of their seat so they don't know what's coming next. They don't have all the information, and they're trying to figure it out and they're on the run. That's exciting. That's a show I want to watch. So to go back and tell people how the outbreak… Who gives a shit? The outbreak started and everybody's screwed and now we're running from these zombies. I love that."
On whether or not, with Dale and Shane gone, Daryl could get bumped up to second in command: "I'll say this. If he survives the finale [laughs], I would certainly lean on that character heavily. I think Norman's done a fantastic job. That character, as you know, is not established in the comic books. He's a viable leader, a viable number 2. I do think that moving ahead if he survives the finale that that would be a character who would play a prominent role."
On whether they held back on big zombie kills or gore this season to go out with a bang in the finale: "No, we didn't not have zombies in other episodes to have more in the finale. That was not the case. We had zombies as we felt was necessary to our story."
On whether material from the comic will feature in the finale: "There's an event in the finale where we were talking about something where Greg said, ‘Let's use what Robert did in the comic book.' So there was another in the comic book that we adapted and Greg pointed it out. We had something that wasn't working out, and Greg said, ‘Robert just did something in the comic book…' We said, ‘Great, we'll use that.' It's different characters and a different scenario, but what was great was we had this treasure trove of Robert Kirkman's work. That was a great way where the whole Walking Dead team came together to solve something in the finale. I think it'll be hopefully an iconic moment. It's certainly a standout."
On whether T-Dog will feature in the finale: "T-Dog fans will be happy to see some terrific stuff from IronE Singleton in the finale. I will say that. I won't talk about his fate or moving ahead. But I think that's a great character…In the finale, there's a reason to love T-Dog."
On what Andrea is evolving into: "Andrea is a unique point of connection of Dale and Shane. We talk about [Dale's] moral voice being lost, and Andrea connected with Dale. I think she may not have agreed with Dale's argument, but she's the one who stood by Dale in that scene in episode 211. She's and Glenn have the RV and are mourning Dale. So she has a very strong connection, and I think she's internalized that voice… She also has a strong connection with Shane. She thinks perhaps his methods are wrong, but we do see that she sides with Shane in a lot of ways. So [when someone] says ‘Those voices are gone,' I would argue that's not the case, that they are not internalized in one of our lead characters. So if she makes it out of 13 it'll be interested to see what she does."
Note: AMC sent me the following message about how you can learn lots more about the season finale, and ask Mazzara your own questions about the show's future...
During the West Coast "feed" of the episode, Writer and Executive Producer, Glen Mazzara (@glenmazzara
On Monday, March 19, Mazzara will be also hosting a special Twitter Q&A to answer fans' questions about The Walking Dead. To participate, all you need to do is sign into Twitter and then insert hashtag #walkingdeadchat. When asking a question, make sure to use the hashtag #walkingdeadchat, so Mazzara will be sure to see it.
Mazarra will be answering questions for 30 minutes starting at 7p.m.PT/10p.m.ET. If your question does not get answered, don't worry, he will be posting additional answers to fans' most popular questions throughout the week.