The Walking Dead is off the air until October, but AMC's made it easy to keep obsessing over the series by posting a lengthy two-part interview with showrunner/executive producer/writer Scott Gimple. He's well-versed in the delicate art of teasing, of course, but his answers to a bunch of Walking Dead fan questions are definitely worth reading. I'm particularly intrigued by his response to the one burning question everyone's asking after the season finale.
Season 4 spoilers ahead!
Why none of the main characters were killed off in the season finale, despite fan expectations:
We were fulfilling the overall stories that we had from the beginning of the season. And with those stories — though anybody could die at any time — it doesn’t mean that they have to. It seemed like somewhat of a stretch to do that. I don’t ever want to use it for just shock value. Deaths can be totally random, actually; there doesn’t have to be this giant, built story that leads to a death. In this case we had decided it really wasn’t a part of the stories we were doing. If in fact every finale had death, that would be pretty predictable. We don’t want people setting their watches by The Walking Dead deaths.
What kind of inspiration drives the storylines, aside from the original comics:
Sometimes, we can go far away from the comic book story, but often to ultimately to serve the comic book story. And even when we go far away from it, we’re inspired by it — and the novels as well. And then beyond that, all of the great stuff that we have consumed along the way, from zombie movies to Star Wars to other comics to really highbrow movies like The Grand Illusion to Jaws. And also really, world history. The plague storyline was inspired by both Camus’ The Plague and other stories about the plague I heard in Edinburgh. But really, it starts with the comic book.
How the team decides when to diverge from the comic story:
There’s so much in our current timeline that doesn’t match up with the comic when they were at this stage of the story. Plus, there were characters that get on the show like Daryl that weren’t even in the comic. So right there there’s a basis for things to be different. That said, what’s cool is we can tell the comic stories sometimes kind of verbatim, sometimes in different ways, sometimes a sort of combination. It’s something we have to do now, and I think it’s something we can use to our advantage. I’d say one of the things I love doing on the show is taking things I love in the comic books and hitting them even harder. Robert Kirkman’s given us an incredible roadmap — an incredible piece of music that we can do a lot of stuff to remix.
Why it's important to include both despair and hope in each episode:
I do think it is incredibly important with every show to portray both darkness and light, otherwise neither one means anything. Even in the very difficult circumstances and heartbreaking landscape that they’re in, they’re human beings. And human beings do find hope and they do find love and they do find moments where they can laugh, even. And I think that sort of thing makes for the darker stuff to be even more heartbreaking. Episode 14, “The Grove” was a real example of sweetness and bitterness, and then sweetness again. To go through something as horrible as that and still come out the other side with a story of forgiveness — I was just really thrilled. I don’t think hope is looked at [enough]; hopelessness is en vogue, so I think it’s really cool that hope is a little punk rock.
Which Walking Dead character could ultimately be the most skilled survivor?
I would say if someone like Judith can make it to adolescence, I think they’re probably best equipped to survive. But making it to adolescence at that age is a pretty difficult thing in this world.
Why's this show so super-popular?
I would say there’s nothing else like it on TV. The comic book is incredibly popular too, and I think there is something about the situation. If you have characters that you love, I think that hopefully is part of it — people really like the characters. They see themselves in one of the characters or all of the characters and they get to ask themselves what they would do in similar situations. There are a lot of very difficult things to think about — even when you turn off the TV, a lot of times.
Do celebrities ever beg to play a zombie?
There are requests, but generally it doesn’t happen too much. It’s a very difficult job and it takes a certain amount of training and endurance. Put it this way: If there were celebrities that did sneak onto the show somehow, we wouldn’t tell you.
Okay, seriously. That's all great stuff and all but WHERE THE HELL IS BETH?
I will say Beth, in some state, is totally somewhere. I’ll say then, that that’s going to be answered next season. And I’m really excited to tell everybody the answer. It might be a little heartbreaking, it might be a little heartwarming, but it’s going to be interesting.
That last one is so hilariously vague, of course -- she's in "some state, somewhere"! -- but I'm going to read into this that Beth is not in fact sliced up into McRibs and spread out on Mary's BBQ. Not yet, anyway.
Here also is what creator Robert Kirkman has said about Beth:
She got taken, she’s not back yet. I can say that Terminus has a lot of signs out there and it’s certainly possible that all kinds of different people out there could make their way to Terminus in some way, so maybe Beth shows up to Terminus in Season 5 ... maybe not. I think I can say that Beth’s story is not over.
Where do YOU think Beth is?
Image via AMC