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?
Highlights from the Video Interview with Scott Gimple:
(additional questions by Hunter Daniels & Christina Radish; video by Jeff Morreale)
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:
It’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?:
I 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.