‘Walking Dead’: Robert Kirkman says Governor ‘could attack at any moment’

Oct. 27, 2013 | 8:00 a.m.

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) in Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead," "Isolation," written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page / AMC)

Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) in Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead," "Isolation," written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page / AMC)

Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) in Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead," "Isolation," written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page / AMC)

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead," "Isolation," written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page / AMC)

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead," "Isolation," written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page / AMC)

Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) in Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead," "Isolation," written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page / AMC)

Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) in Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead," "Isolation," written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page / AMC)

Carol (Melissa Suzanne McBride) in Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead," "Isolation," written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page / AMC)

Carol (Melissa Suzanne McBride) in Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead," "Isolation," written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page / AMC)

It’s not an exaggeration to describe “The Walking Dead” as the biggest thing on television right now.

AMC’s hit zombie series, adapted from the comic book created by Robert Kirkman, has become the most-watched prime-time drama, its recent Season 4 premiere attracting some 16.1 million viewers. But Kirkman, an executive producer on the show and the writer of Sunday’s episode, “Isolation,” said he and his fellow scripters are doing their best not to dwell on the series’ success for fear it will become an unwelcome distraction from the creative task at hand.

“The ratings really have gotten absolutely insane,” Kirkman told Hero Complex. “We really have to ignore it, otherwise it does become unrelenting pressure that we just can’t deal with.”

With “Isolation,” Kirkman continues to ratchet up the tension inside the prison as Rick and the other survivors contend with a new kind of threat, a highly lethal illness that’s decimated their ranks — and they learn that there might be an additional killer in their midst. And, of course, there’s one old enemy who’s still at large and guaranteed to re-appear, David Morrissey’s sadistic villain, the Governor.

“He could attack at any moment,” Kirkman warned.

Read on to hear what else Kirkman had to say about the upcoming episodes, and for a behind-the-scenes visit to the Georgia set of the show, head over to our sister blog Show Tracker for a detailed report by Greg Braxton.

Robert Kirkman and friends. (Megan Mack / MorrisonCon)

Robert Kirkman and friends. (Megan Mack / MorrisonCon)

The focus this season appears to be very much on character. Why was that the right approach for the show’s fourth year? 

We’ve done a tremendous amount of world building over the first three seasons, introducing you to the rules and the zombies and how things work and how to survive in this world. Now I think it’s time to really get you reinvested in who these characters are and what their motives are. In Season 3, we had a lot going on with two different camps and battling over territory, there’s still zombies running around, there was just a lot of moving parts. Being able to hunker down in your fourth season and really get to know these people and reinvest in what’s going on with these people is a really good thing to do, to make sure that we’re on solid footing moving forward.

How does placing the characters in this pressure cooker situation — they’re inside the prison living with this internal threat of a disease, not an exterior foe that they can confront and fight — affect the stories that you can write for them?

Conflict is good for story in all cases and a conflict that is not necessarily defeatable in any kind of traditional way is an interesting thing to throw in the mix. They’ve had so many tangible threats that are definitely still around, there are walkers gathering at the fence and the Governor is still on their radar. Michonne is still going out trying to find him. But to have this other thing thrown in that is not tangible, an illness, something that is very simple and treatable in another situation where there’s actual civilization and modern medicine and everything but can actually run wild and just decimate the ranks in this situation, is that much more heightened and that much more deadly and that much richer and makes it possible to lose more of these characters that we love killing off. After being able to bash zombies’ heads in for so long, having this threat that’s just as dangerous but you really can’t do much to combat is an extra level of futility that’s being pushed into their lives that they’re having to deal with.

Horror as a genre enables writers to explore a wide range of ideas and emotions, and it’s interesting that “Walking Dead” can simultaneously function as horror movie, action show and character drama. Do you think that’s why it’s resonated with viewers the way it has?

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in Sunday's episode of  "The Walking Dead," "Isolation," written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page/AMC)

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in Sunday’s episode of
“The Walking Dead,” “Isolation,” written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page / AMC)

I do. I feel like this show offers so much to so many different people. You can watch this show and just enjoy the action or just enjoy the character drama or just enjoy the romance that is at times present. I think that’s why we hear so much about families coming together and watching this show together or large groups of friends getting together at people’s houses and watching this show. It’s a cool thing to know that you can do a show that on its surface seems like it is specifically designed for a very niche audience, a zombie show. Before this show debuted, it was. I hope that all the people that love this genre tell their friends, otherwise we’re sunk. It’s become so much to so many different kinds of people that it has been a success. The horror genre is so adaptable to telling different kinds of stories in the context of horror. We experience horror in our everyday lives in many different forms so the idea of being scared and having things looming over you and having a threat around every corner is relatable on a human level.

The ratings for the show are truly remarkable. How does that affect you in the writers room?

We have never really changed the way we do things. We always try to tell the best stories possible. Luckily the show is produced in somewhat of a vacuum while we’re writing episodes. It’s not until we actually debut in October whether we know what the reaction is going to be to the stories that were doing. By then the majority of the season is pretty much set in stone. So we do have the luxury of not really getting the feedback until most of the episodes are shot. Otherwise it could drive us crazy a little, hearing who likes what and who doesn’t like what and who’s responding to this and who’s responding to that. There is a tremendous amount of feedback that comes in from a show that’s this popular. At the end of the day, we just have to set a course and be confident that it’s the course that we’re all invested in and just kind of go in that direction and hope that the audience continues to enjoy it. Thus far, it’s worked. Fingers crossed.

How are things different with new show runner Scott M. Gimple at the helm?

Honestly, it’s not that much different. Scott has been a very vocal presence in the writers room from the very beginning of Season 2. There are certainly different management styles that various show runners have employed. Scott has his way of doing things that I think everyone’s responding well to. It’s just great having someone in the room who’s just been there for so long and knows this show as well as him. I think Scott more than any other show runner, he was the guy who was reading the comics before the show ever even existed and watched the first season as a fan before he was ever hired on as a writer. He’s someone who just lives and breathes the show and loves it and really kind of reveres it the same way that the fans do. I think he’s bringing an extra little bit of reverence to this material or some kind of extra level of love, if I can sound completely ridiculous. He’s really invested and that really shows through in the work and has helped to get everyone behind him in a big way. We’re all working hand in hand to create the best show. It’s a great environment.

Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) in Sunday's episode of  "The Walking Dead," "Isolation," written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page/AMC)

Glenn (Steven Yeun), left, and Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) in Sunday’s episode of
“The Walking Dead,” “Isolation,” written by Robert Kirkman. (Gene Page / AMC)

It has to be interesting for you as a writer to have the opportunity to come back and revisit characters and story lines years after the fact and take them in a new direction. Do you enjoy creating this alternative narrative for the characters?

I do enjoy the big spectacle moments …. As far as pure writing goes, I do quite enjoy the emotional scenes, the real personal stuff, I do enjoy rolling the sleeves up and getting into that stuff. In general when you’re talking about comic versus show, it’s fun for me because things … that happened in the comic, I’m writing it in a completely different way. This illness, this virus that’s sweeping through the prison, is a new concept that was introduced for the show that was never in the comics. There’s so many elements that change things. While I am adapting my own material, it is fresh and new and that’s something that I really enjoy — coming back to familiar material but with a new eye, with the freedom to go in any direction that I want to and be able to do cool stuff with old ideas that I came up with six, seven years ago. That to me is a fun exercise.

What’s in store for the season ahead?

Awesome stuff. The unexpected. I think the coolest thing about this season is that there are so many twists and turns along the way that you can’t really figure out what story we’re telling until the story’s told. Every time there’s something introduced this season and you go, Oh, I get it, that’s what this season is about, you’re wrong, and I think that’s really cool. When it’s all said and done and all 16 episodes are completed, you’re going to see a cool tapestry that comes together to tell a pretty involved, pretty cool story. We’re going to be throwing some wrenches in the works as we go along.

– Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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Comments


10 Responses to ‘Walking Dead’: Robert Kirkman says Governor ‘could attack at any moment’

  1. nichole Merandez says:

    shoutout to the best tv show ever aired on AMC ! i absolutly love it

  2. Tammy says:

    Is it me? or did everyone want to slap all the sick people who were coughing without covering their mouths!! lol

  3. scarlet says:

    how the heck did rick figure out carol killed Karen and her son does anyone know

  4. Austin says:

    Where is The Governor!?!

  5. casey g says:

    Please leave the Governer out of the show…..by far the worst storyline so far…..

  6. The Boring Dead.. I'll stick with the comics, way better.

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