'Walking Dead': Surprising Character Death Explained & Major Hints for What's Next

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Walking DeadWarning: stop reading now if you haven't seen last Sunday's midseason finale of The Walking Dead. I'm serious, don't even scan one more sentence and then come crying to me about spoilers, dammit. I've given you plenty of fair warning. Just look at all these words I am typing just to give you time to click away!

Okay, if you're still here, that means the events in "Too Far Gone" are officially fair game. Thanks to some great interviews with Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, and Scott Wilson, the man who played Hershel, may his majestic beard rest in peace, I've got some insight into what happened on Sunday -- and what we can look forward to when the season returns in February (including my own wild theories).

All right: the death of Hershel. Why did this happen? WHY?

He was the moral compass of the group and it’s always good to lose the moral compass. It will all become clear when we finally show you the back half of season 4. It wasn’t enough for these characters to lose the prison. They also had to feel some kind of loss over something important and Hershel was that thing that was important to each and every character, so it made the most sense to take him off the table and see how it affects the characters, which we’ll see when we come back in a bit. So there’s a lot of cool stuff ahead because of that. -- Kirkman

Many viewers wondered why the Governor put the katana to Hershel's throat instead of Michonne's, since he hated her so much. What was up with that?

Well, there’s two things: I don’t think he knew that things were going to spiral out of control the way they did right after he killed Hershel so it’s entirely possible that he had a much more horrible plan for Michonne. But two, because of that exchange between Hershel and the Governor in the trailer, and because of Rick’s comments mirroring a lot of what Hershel said, I think the Governor got the sense that this was the guy that was advising Rick and kind of represented the whole “we can all live together in harmony” attitude, and that’s the guy you want to take off the table just to show this is not what’s happening. I’m going to take this prison. -- Kirkman

Why did Hershel have a little half-smile on his face as Rick was pleading with the Governor?

I think that was a really a culmination of the first scene that Rick and Hershel had together on the front porch of Hershel’s farm, talking about the world, and about disease, and about the place of man in the new order of things. And really that’s kind of a theme that went through the two-and-a-half seasons I was on the show. Where do you stand? Where’s the humanity in this situation? Where do you keep your humanity? And that was a recurring theme with Hershel and Rick. So I think basically he was hearing some of what he had been imparting to Rick or exploring with Rick coming out of his mouth at that moment, so it made him feel that Rick got it — that he saw what was going on. And that Hershel’s legacy would be carried on by Rick and the rest of the people, even if he was not there. Some ideas are maybe stronger and can survive the person that is going. So I think that was what was going on there in Hershel’s mind. -- Wilson

How did Scott Wilson react when he heard the bad news he was getting killed off?

Let’s face it — they gave me some great episodes there before they did take me off so I'm appreciative of that. I have a world of respect for (showrunner) Mr. Gimple. (...) He called me into his office and I went in and talked to him. He explained to me that I was going. I said to him, “I think you’re making a big mistake, but it’s yours to make and I’m not going to try to talk you out of it.” Someone from the show was going to go. I would not want to be the one to make the decision that he had to make there. And I respect him for how he told me, and I am grateful for the scenes and episodes they gave me before they took me off. So, it’s all good. (...) Certainly I’ve had more recognition from this than anything I’ve ever done. I just hope this is not a bookend and that it’s over. Hopefully I have a chapter or two left for Scott — if not for Hershel. -- Wilson

Why did Lilly shoot the Governor in the head after he'd already received a fatal wound? Was it mercy or fury?

It is a little bit of both. In that moment Lilly is very angry with the Governor because she had in the episode prior said, “Let’s not do this. We don’t have to go after this other place.” And she was very much against everything that the Governor was doing and to a certain extent didn’t even see why he was doing it because she didn’t know that burning vengeance that was in the Governor or that desire to control and to have the prison. I think the Governor ultimately hated that there was this group out there that was existing without him and was possibly doing better than him, and it was eating away at him. So I definitely think in that moment when she shot him, she despised him quite a bit. I do think there was a lot of hatred behind that bullet. -- Kirkman

The group has definitively left the prison, right? We won't have a surprise return during the second half of season 4?

The Walking Dead moves on. That’s what we do. We didn’t stay at the farm. We’re not staying at the prison. We’re always going to be going to new and cool and interesting dangerous places. We’ve had a season and a half of the prison and I think it is time to move on. I think the audience is ready and there is a plethora of really cool stuff ahead. And as hard as it is to leave that comfort zone to think about not really walking in the prison anymore, it’s good to be going off to new places and it’s very exciting doing something new. -- Kirkman

Okay, so who the hell was feeding zombies at the prison earlier in the season? Are we going to find out soon?

Yeah. Definitely. And I will say if you go back and look at the first half of the season, there are actually quite a bit of unanswered dangling little plot threads that we will be picking up with and resolving to a certain extent in the back half of season 4. I’m really pleased with how layered this season has been. -- Kirkman

The prison survivors kind of scattered to the winds at the end of the midseason finale -- are they going to be able to meet up right away?

We definitely have a lot of individual stores and I would not expect the group to be getting reunited as quickly as they did at the end of season 2. Or possibly ever. So there’s definitely a lot of unknowns going into the back half of this season. We’ll just have to see if they come together It’s entirely possible that there will be some parts of that group that just don’t quite make it back. -- Kirkman

Last but not least: WHAT HAPPENED TO BABY JUDITH??

Well, she’s not in that car seat. I mean, there might be some of her in that car seat, but you know, the majority of her is not there. That’s another big unknown that we’ll have to find out about when we come back. She could be dead. She could be maimed. She could be fine. We’ll just have to find out. -- Kirkman

Haaaaa, "there might be some of her" in the seat. That's just gross, Kirkman, and I love it.

My predictions for the second half of season 4: baby Judith is alive and well. It will be revealed that Lizzie was the prison saboteur and maybe even the one who killed Karen and David. The core survivors will reunite (so long, Woodbury redshirts), Carol will come back into the fold, and Abraham, Eugune, and Rosita from the comics will join the gang. They'll be on the road or in a temporary camp the whole time, and encountering herds. The finale will have them discovering a new place to live, which will be the setting for season 5.

Okay, your turn: what do you think will happen when The Walking Dead returns?


Image via AMC

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