Good news, Walking Dead fans. Answers are coming! Is Baby Judith dead or alive? Will we ever find out who was feeding rats to zombies at the prison? What was that mysterious radio signal Daryl picked up in the car? Not only are these answers coming, but new characters from the comic like fan favorite Abraham are coming as well when the AMC drama returns with its final eight episodes of season 4 starting on Feb. 9. We chatted with Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple to get the scoop on what’s in store — for both the survivors and viewers. (Click through both pages to read the entire interview. And also make sure to check out our midseason preview Q&As with Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Andrew Lincoln, and exec-producer Robert Kirkman.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So it looks like these next eight episodes to close out season 4 are going to have a bit of a different structure and tone, correct?
SCOTT GIMPLE: Structurally, yes this will be very different. I think the tone is actually varied. And in that variety it’s very different. There are some bright sweet moments and there are — shock upon shock — some smiles. There’s also some of the darkest material we’ve ever written as well. It really runs the gamut. I love how we’ve been able to do essentially eight little movies. Structurally, something that we get from this is beginnings, middles, and ends in each episode. Thus, because we’re telling all these different stories, not one story cut into eight, there’s a lot of different variety.
EW: Tell me about that decision to start everyone off alone or in different little groups.
GIMPLE: I would like to say that we’re geniuses, but really we’re just taking inspiration from the comic. This was a story that I really loved in the comic. We have big changes in ours but the crux of the story is from the comic. I was eager to expand upon that storyline.
EW: I want to ask about the aftermath of the death of Hershel and how that will impact everyone because they really haven’t had a chance to really process that yet since it was immediately followed by the assault on the prison.
GIMPLE: There were three major deaths that episode: There was Hershel, the Governor and also the prison. Hershel in many ways represented what the prison was, which was civilization. Rick’s final philosophy on the prison was taking people in, which is very humanistic. They were growing their own food. They were growing their own community. They were having hope for the future. Hershel’s death really symbolized the end of that. There’s this practical reality: We do not have fences or walls. But there’s also a philosophical reality: We don’t have civilization for the future or humanism. Stripping these characters of every piece of safety they have, including each other, that was the point of it. It’s boiling things down to an even baser survival. It’s getting real with their situation in this world. Forget what had happened to the world. It came for them. These characters will be at their most vulnerable.
EW: Obviously fans have a lot of questions going forward. This first one is, where is baby Judith? Dead? Alive? What?
GIMPLE: I’m going to start with the not awesome thing: Judith was a baby in a place with free-roaming walkers, so the math isn’t very good there. On top of that, there’s things we wouldn’t show on television…so there’s that. But the awesome thing is that the answers to a lot of these questions come sooner rather than later. These answers will come quite quickly.
EW: Is the storyline with Lilly or Tara or anyone from the Governor’s camp finished? Could we see any of those people again?
GIMPLE: When anybody doesn’t die onscreen, I assume it’s possible that we will see them again. Judith is a different thing — her fate most likely cannot be shown on television. I will say there are some eagle-eyed people on the internet out there who have scoured the advertisement and pre-released things and they believe they have spotted Tara. People on the internet are smart, so I’d say we’ll probably be seeing Tara.
EW: Let’s talk about new characters that we are about to see from the comics: Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita. How different or similar will they be to what we know from the comics?
GIMPLE: They are going to be introduced a little differently. From a character standpoint, holy crap! From a visual standpoint, they are a lot more closely hewn from the comic. We’re able to expand upon them and there’s definitely some curveballs regarding aspects of their characters. They will be remarkably familiar to comic readers. Even the first time we see them is taken directly from the book.
EW: What about this other new character named Gareth I’ve heard whispers about?
GIMPLE: I can say very little. Kind of from the books, kind of not totally from the books. Comic fans would not know him. He was an invention that was inspired for the show.
EW: Of course, whenever we talk I always have to ask you about Morgan, played by Lennie James. Any chance we’ll get to see him again before season 4 ends?
GIMPLE: He will not be definitely in season four. Somebody misquoted me on that. Will he be on the show again? Yes. I am absolutely certain of that.
EW: Let’s go through some other loose ends. Are we going to learn anything about that faint radio signal that Daryl heard in the car talking about sanctuary?
GIMPLE: Absolutely, sooner rather than later.
EW: What about the rat vivisection and zombie feeding by the gate? Will we get more clarity on who was responsible for that?
GIMPLE: I love that I can say these yeses. Yes, that answer doesn’t come as quickly though.
EW: Any more aftermath on Rick’s decision to exile Carol? Daryl barely had a chance to react and Tyreese still doesn’t even know about it.
GIMPLE: Absolutely, that’s one of the biggest things that has happened in these characters lives and it’s going to be a bigger part of these characters stories. That will be answered and played out. I think most, if not all, of the questions from the first half of season 4 will be answered. Some more questions will be posed too. We’re telling the whole story. The second half of the season completes the stories from the first half of the season. That sounds really silly. But it all adds up to something in the end.
EW: Any other iconic locations that people know from the comics that we’ll be hitting before we finish this season?
GIMPLE: This half season from a location standpoint is very much it’s own thing. It takes inspiration from the books, but it’s its own beast too. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s really a remix. It all kind of blends together. There’s stuff we’ve completely invented that I thought was from the books. It’s cool that it’s wholly its own thing, but it’s also completely derived from the book. I hope that people who read the comics will be surprised by the back half.
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