Showrunner Scott M. Gimple Talks THE WALKING DEAD Season 4 and 5, the End Game of the Series, the Upcoming WALKING DEAD Spinoff, and More

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At the Saturn Movie Awards this past Thursday, The Walking Dead went home with a number of awards – Best Cable Television Series, Best Supporting Actress (Melissa McBride) & Best Performance by a Younger Actor (Chandler Riggs).  The fourth season of The Walking Dead – in particular the pared down second half – has felt like a real renaissance for the show.  Four seasons in, the biggest television show on air found itself by telling decidedly smaller and more intimate stories.  Zombies became a backdrop for a downbeat parable on the effects of survivor’s guilt.

Much of the credit for the success of the season can be laid at the feet of showrunner Scott Gimple – who has been a writer on the series since season two.  After the award show, Collider chatted with Gimple about the structural choices of the fourth season, the upcoming Walking Dead spinoff series, his favorite episode, The Walking Dead season five, and the ‘end-game’ for the series. For the full video interview and transcribed highlights of Gimple’s answers, hit the jump.

Scott Gimple Time Index:

  • How did Scott Gimple make the choice to pare down The Walking Dead for the second half of the season?
  • What is Gimple’s favorite episode of the fourth season?
  • What’s the balance for Gimple between fidelity to the Robert Kirkman comic and creating his own spin on it?
  • What will the structure of the fifth season look like?
  • How much say does AMC have in the creative direction of the show?
  • What does Gimple know about the upcoming spinoff of The Walking Dead?
  • What is the ‘end-game’ of the show?


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Highlights from the Video Interview with Scott Gimple:

(additional questions by Hunter Daniels & Christina Radish; video by Jeff Morreale)

the-walking-dead-season-5Scott Gimple on designing the structure of Season 4 of The Walking Dead:

I came in with a design for the season, an architecture that we could build our house around… In the comics, there isn’t as big of a group. A lot fewer people made it out of the prison. We had this huge group to get back together and at the beginning of the year, I wanted to have a story for every character and to fulfill that story in the end. Some of the stuff we laid in the first episode, we didn’t get to until the back half. That was purposeful. When I was working on the show — even before I was in the position I’m in now — I would look towards Georgia and Atlanta history sometimes just for notions. When I’m out there, there’s a lot of history all around and during the hiatus, I was looking at all the railroad tracks that crisscross Georgia. I also knew Atlantis used to be called Terminus because all these railroad tracks would converge there and I put it aside. When we were going through [the season] in the writer’s room, I picked up on the Terminus stuff I had read about and it all clicked together. It really was the way to have all these characters by themselves. [It allowed us] to tell the emotional stories we had known. Sometimes that is the trick with the show – we know the emotional stories but we have to find the practical realities [for] making some of those stories happen.

Gimple on remaining faithful to the comic’s storylines:

the-walking-dead-season-5-norman-reedusIt’s funny – back in the day when I started season two, I was all ‘We must hem to the comic’ and Kirkman was like ‘Well – let’s have some fun. I’ve done this all before.’ I certainly won’t abandon iconic things from the comic. I definitely want to stick to the comic as much as possible but that’s also impossible with Daryl Dixon and characters that are alive but dead in the comic. There’s a butterfly effect. But that’s actually an incredibly fun part of the [show]. I would say that even the inventions we have on the show are inspired by the comic.

Gimple on the structure of the upcoming fifth season:

It’s not mirroring [the previous season] completely… The challenge of the show is every eight episodes, it’s a whole new show. I will say that there may be some slightly familiar structural turns. But for the most  part, it is going to be brand new versions of the comic story.

Gimple on the upcoming spinoff of The Walking Dead and whether or not there will be any crossovers between the two shows?:

the-walking-dead-spinoff-seriesI have little to do with the spinoff… This I do know. It’s set in the world of The Walking Dead but from what I understand, it’s not like Daryl’s cousin or anything… I would never say never [to a crossover between the shows] because if I was a viewer I would say that sounds awesome. But we’re doing our own show. I also think a crossover might be tough because it would take a lot of [license] within the comic story. We’ll see. When we get to all-out war, who knows? We’ll add another faction. It’ll be the Saviors and the Hilltop and the ‘Spin-offers’.

Gimple on the endgame for the series:

I would say ‘Yes’ [there is an end-game]. I actually don’t like spoiling myself on the comic. I read it as I go. Robert’s offered to tell me the whole thing so I get general aspects of it. I know the emotional end game of the show but there’s practical aspects, I want to keep with the comic. With these characters, you definitely have to think of the emotional endgame and that is very much a part of where I’m headed. But I want to have the flexibility to change the practicals with the comic and I don’t want Robert to spoil the whole series for me.




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  • Matt1

    Seriously?? This past season was the worst one, by far! There were maybe 3 or 4 good episodes out of both halves of the season! Most of the time I kept saying, “When the fuck is the group getting back together?!”
    The show is strongest when all the characters work together to reach a common goal. That was completely missing in the last half of the season.
    Get your shit (and the group) together, guys! This show was built on the relationships of the people within the group. Taking that away makes the show a complete bore.

    • LEM

      I thought it was actually the most well rounded we’ve had since the first season.

    • MJ

      I agree 100%. As I said above:

      “From this series, I want some action and some scifi, like in Season’s 1 and 3. The “storytelling” soap opera touchy-feely crap in seasons 2 and 4 put me to sleep. Also, they’ve never recovered character-wise from killing off Shane. Shane, and the Governor, were the two most compelling characters in the series, and they are both gone. In fact, excepting Darryl, they’ve killed off the best actors/characters now, and we’ve got the lesser characters left. I do like Rick, but the writers have now made him into such a pussy, that I am completely bored with him — either give him a new set of balls with his brain back, or just kill him off please…just so bored with his whiney depression and indecisiveness”

      • Joe

        Did you watch the season 4 finale? He’s the furthest thing from a pussy.

    • Joey Robinson

      I couldn’t disagree more. This season had the best action, character development, and most interesting use of the zombies yet. It held together from the first episode and did some really amazing things. The other seasons were frustrating for me because you could see the potential there for really great storytelling but they always fell short. Gimple figured it out. I hope he’s here to stay.

  • Leo Spaceman

    The thing that has been bothering me since about a week after the finale aired is “Why the F**k did all four of them go into the Sanctuary if they didn’t trust them?” They left a bag of weapons that they may be able to reach if they escape, but they didn’t leave a person.

    If Rick and Carl went in alone first, then it looks like a father protecting his boy and then they could explain that they don’t trust everyone they meet and they have two more friends waiting right outside and invite them in. But if they get captured, there is an Ace Archer and a Sneaky Samurai that could bring all kinds of hell. They had the foresight that maybe they should leave a bag of guns buried in the woods in case things go south, but not a person who could actually use the bag of guns.

    • Matt1

      Exactly!

    • LEM

      Completely agree that the lack of recon outside was ridiculous. They did mention how hungry everyone was but with Daryl in tow again they should have been able to catch something and make camp just outside of Terminus in order to check it out for awhile.

    • MJ

      Epic Fail the way they ended Season 4. The lack of recon was astounding for those characters. They’ve learned to recon so well, but all of a sudden, they just trust this new group? What the hell???

      • Leo Spaceman

        Well to be fair Sergeant Abraham Ford just walked in through the front gate. He put Eugene in serious peril and hes the key to saving the world!!!!

      • MJ

        So your defending this by saying that the one guy with military training didn’t do recon either? Huh?

      • Leo Spaceman

        No I was just trying to make a slight joke in hopes that maybe somebody would give me an upvote. I don’t have the courage to brazenly upvote myself like some people do.

      • MJ

        Touche! :-)

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  • Bob

    To the contrary, the last season was the best of all especially as they explored the individual stories of the surviving characters and we watched how their separate paths weaved and converged at the end. Excellent storytelling that kept me fully engrossed.

    • guest

      I disagree, it’s a very good game, but I think Donkey Kong is the best game ever.

      • Bob

        Seriously, your reply makes no particular sense.

      • LEM

        Donkey Kong SUCKS!

      • Diaz

        You know something? YOU SUCK! :P lol

      • Diaz

        You know something? YOU SUCK! :P lol

      • Diaz

        You know something? YOU SUCK! :P lol

    • JudgeMethos

      I agree. This is the type of show where there has always been a payoff. Some folk are just too impatient with it. It’s called storytelling. Everything can’t be done in one episode. It’s a slow build with little plot twists thrown in until the climax where you want more but then… ya gotta wait for the season. Dammit, hooked me again. I’m still engrossed just like I have been with the comic. Season 4 was fine to me. I like the character arks of everyone and then them getting back together only to get trapped like rats. Then Rick getting out of his slump and becoming a bad ass again and basically telling the group, we’re goin to F*ck these people UP for f*cking with us on the last episode. Cool.

      • MJ

        If I want to see literary-level storytelling, I’ve got Charles Dickens on my shelf. And if I want to see a soap opera, I’ll watch General Hospital.

        From this series, I want some action and some scifi, like in Season’s 1 and 3. The “storytelling” soap opera touchy-feely crap in seasons 2 and 4 put me to sleep.

        Also, they’ve never recovered character-wise from killing off Shane. Shane, and the Governor, were the two most compelling characters in the series, and they are both gone. In fact, excepting Darryl, they’ve killed off the best actors/characters now, and we’ve got the lesser characters left. I do like Rick, but the writers have now made him into such a pussy, that I am completely bored with him — either give him a new set of balls with his brain back, or just kill him off please…just so bored with his whiney depression and indecisiveness.

      • BigJimSlade

        Shane’s killed off even earlier in the comics. I can’t say I miss him. That was a good plot thread but didn’t need to be milked any further.

      • MJ

        Yea, but no one filled that vacuum in terms of another great actor/character. That’s my issue with it.

        Shane is dead, but on top of that we have Rick turning into a dumb-ass pussy. So, two great characters are now gone.

        Daryl is fine, but his “woodsmen-trailer park trash with a heart of gold” act is even getting a bit tired now.

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  • eternalozzie

    I have never been a big fan of this series but this season was written and acted so well I was glued to my TV … Carl sitting on the roof eating that giant thing of pudding sums up this post apocalyptic world perfectly.

  • suave

    let me guess,. a bunch of people who hate the show but watch it anyway come on here to complain and insult the show. GO!

  • suave

    let me guess,. a bunch of people who hate the show but watch it anyway come on here to complain and insult the show. GO!

  • suave

    let me guess,. a bunch of people who hate the show but watch it anyway come on here to complain and insult the show. GO!

  • DEADP00L

    Great show just proves that Zombies work everywhere.

    • MJ

      Season 4 stunk. Season 3 was awesome.

      • GunzOfNavarone

        Season 4 was one of the most uneven seasons I have ever watched of a show. It was all over the place. I really hope they pull it back together this season.

  • DEADP00L

    Great show just proves that Zombies work everywhere.

  • DEADP00L

    Great show just proves that Zombies work everywhere.

  • Doris

    I agree with Matt. Worst season by far. I want to see them together as a team, not separated for half a season. And the pairings they went with! I know they were going for keeping characters out of their element, but some of them were painful to watch. The only one that actually worked was Carol/Tyreese. I used to love Daryl, but now I just don’t care if he lives or dies. He needs the group around him to make him interesting. And lets not talk about writing Melissa McBride out of the majority of the season. Or focusing on the Governor for 2 whole episodes.

    Bad choices all around. I’m not too optimistic about S5, but will check it out in the hopes the gang being together again hooks me back. Not holding my breath though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sangbaran Sam

    I really hope they continue with the Season 4 tone over to the next season. It was just amazing.

    • MJ

      ….ly bad.

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