[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Sunday's The Walking Dead midseason finale. Read at your own risk!]
The Walking Dead ended the first half of Season 4 with a bang — literally.
After The Governor (David Morrissey) tried and failed to take the prison without any bloodshed, he went in the exact opposite direction, murdering Hershel (Scott Wilson) and telling his new lackeys to "Kill them all!" The Governor also almost claimed Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) life, but Michonne (Danai Gurira) stabbed him in the chest in the nick of time. It was Lilly (Audrey Marie Anderson) who ultimately took The Governor's life, shooting her former lover in the head as the prison fell and its inhabitants scattered amongst the gunfire. What does this all mean for our group of survivors? And is baby Judith really dead? TVGuide.com turned to executive producer and comic book creator Robert Kirkman to get the scoop:
Talk about the decision to have The Governor die now as opposed to the end of last season.
Robert Kirkman: We had shown that no matter what happened in his life, no matter what decisions that he made, no matter how much he tried to be that good person, he was always going to be somebody who was troubled and who was going to be going after the prison. Having him come around a second time and having this confrontation come to a head, we knew that this was the logical conclusion to his story.
Does Michonne feel a sense of closure having killed The Governor, or will she find that it didn't completely satiate her?
Kirkman: That's definitely something we're going to be dealing with in the back half, but I'm pretty sure she'll find out that you don't quite get as much closure from those things as you think you will. She's still going to have quite a bit of that tormenting her.
What was behind the decision to have The Governor not ultimately claim Rick's arm as he does in the comics?
Kirkman: There are a lot of logistical problems that come from that. Story wise, it's something that I feel like works in the comic and something that I don't necessarily regret, but it does lead to a lot of problems that I'm able to side step in the comics that would be a little bit more difficult in television just because I'm able to have things move in between panels that Rick wouldn't be able to move with one hand believably. It's just not something that we felt was right for the show. Although, Andrew Lincoln is very adamant that he's always wanted to do it. So, it may happen eventually, you never know.
Hershel had survived death once before, so why kill him now?
Kirkman: We'll see this in the next half of Season 4, but it's a pretty huge deal for these characters to be losing the prison and losing this sanctuary, this place that they've built this life in. We wanted to add another layer into that. We'll see a lot of that come into play in the second half of Season 4. The only place that every group is going is away from the prison, which is overrun with walkers and completely destroyed. They're off into the unknown.
Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) was the moral center of the group before he died and then Hershel took his place. Who becomes that moral center of the group now?
Kirkman: That remains to be seen, but we have proven that whoever does become that moral center is definitely in danger, so they should be on the lookout.
Is baby Judith really dead? And considering that you stayed so close to the comics in all other aspects, why didn't you choose to go the route that would follow her death in the comics more closely?
Kirkman: In the comics, this was the moment where Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Judith died. The story has already been changed by having Lori's death happen a little sooner. It's another one of those examples of the comic readers not really having that advance knowledge of what's going to come because something fundamental has been changed. I really like the idea of the comic readers being like, "Wait a minute, Judith was supposed to die here!" Maybe she's dead, but if she's alive, that changes the story in some interesting ways moving forward as we go into some of the other stories from the comics that happened after the prison where Judith wasn't present. It's fun to think about how she could potentially change those stories if she is alive. She certainly could be dead. There's a lot of blood in that car seat.
Will there be a time jump or will the second half of the season pick up right away?
Kirkman: There's no time jump. We wouldn't do that. It's going to pick up pretty much to the minute of where we left off.
You wrote the midseason premiere, so how close will we see it stay to the comics?
Kirkman: The show always veers away from the comics and veers back, but we've now hit a point where it's veering back on for a time. There's going to be a lot of cool stuff coming up that's taken directly from the comics. Everyone is already aware of the fact that characters like Abraham, Rosita and Eugene are going to be introduced real soon. People who've read the comics know they get introduced shortly after the fall of the prison, so you can assume there are some elements of that that's going to be brought in. We always like to keep people guessing. While there will be quite a bit of scenes that are adapted directly from the comics, which I'm very excited about, we are still going to be changing things and keeping people guessing and adding a lot of new elements in the story as well.
Can you talk about the decision to introduce Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt)?
Kirkman: It's always cool for me when big characters from the comics are brought in. We're always introducing new people, but when characters from the comics I'm familiar with and in some cases haven't gotten to write in a while because they've already died in the comics, it's always fun to go back home and spend some time on these characters again.
You're also doing a twist on a comic book character with Gareth (Andrew J. West). Is there anything you can tell us about him?
Kirkman: I can tell you nothing about him.
How will losing the prison, all this death and possibly losing baby Judith affect Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Rick in particular?
Kirkman: It's taking everything away from them. It's putting them in a position where they're on uneasy ground. Rick and Carl are out on their own, they're by themselves with no supplies and no sanctuary. They're definitely in the most dangerous position that they've been in yet, which is where all of the characters are coming out of this episode. We do some really interesting changes in these characters as they're put to the test and have to decide what they're willing to do to survive and how they're going to allow this new environment and new danger to affect them, which is what The Walking Dead is all about.
At this point, does Rick get a sense that being with a group is also very dangerous in this world?
Kirkman: It's also possible that at the same time he could be thinking we'd never have survived that if we had been alone. This could be reaffirming his stance on, "You need people to survive in this world," which would make it that much more important to him to somehow reconnect with whoever he thinks may have survived. It's important to note that in this episode, the group was split up quite a bit, but if you watch it, you can see that they split up in a way that they don't know if anyone other than themselves actually survived, which is going to be a big element of the back half of the season.
There's also still that lingering storyline about someone feeding the walkers rats.
Kirkman: If you go back and watch the first eight episodes of the season, there are still a lot of lingering thoughts that are still dangling out there that we will definitely be picking up in the back half.
Stay tuned for more Walking Dead scoop in this week's Mega Buzz!
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, Feb. 9 on AMC.