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Episode 412 Post-Mortem with Robert Kirkman

Another week, another awesome episode of The Walking Dead, another chat with creator Robert Kirkman! Let’s jump to it. Let’s set the way-back machine for before existed, do you remember the beginnings of Daryl as a character in the writers’ room?

Robert Kirkman: The Daryl Dixon character actually came about because we had always pictured Michael Rooker as Merle, but AMC wanted us to test other actors for the role just in case, which is something they traditionally do, and Norman Reedus ended up being one of the actors that came in to read for Merle. After he did his test, we were still dead set on Michael Rooker for that role, but we all loved Norman so much and thought he’d be a great addition to the show, so suddenly Merle Dixon had a brother. So Daryl was created for the show specifically so we could have something for Norman to do.

If you watch those first few episodes, the Daryl Dixon character was pretty much a blank slate, so I like to give the lion’s share of the credit for defining that character to Norman. Being in the writers’ room for season 1, we really didn’t know what the plan was for this character and what we wanted to do with him exactly. It was really seeing Norman’s portrayal of that character that ended up helping us craft the character in the room while we were working. It was a fairly unique creation story for a Walking Dead character.

TWD: In last nights’ episode, Beth says she thinks Daryl will be the last man standing. Do you think Daryl would be the last man standing in an apocalypse? What do you think it would take for someone to be that last surviving person?

Kirkman: Well look, if I had to put my money on someone, I think the odds would be in Daryl Dixon’s favor. I think the thing to take note of when it comes to who survives in this world and who thrives in this world are characters like Daryl who had incredibly harsh, miserable lives before this world came about. He’s someone who has survived in the woods on his own and is largely prepared for the kind of emotional turmoil you have to go through in this world, and so he’s uniquely suited to thrive in this environment since he’s lived through so much trauma before. I’ve often said that his situation actually improved with the end of the world. He didn’t really have friends before, he didn’t really have a mission—he was just drifting through life. Building a relationship with someone like Carol or Beth is something he’s never really been able to do before.

TWD: Speaking of his backstory, what made you and the writers decide it was time to delve into his past?

Kirkman: These last eight episodes are meant to get down to the nut and bolts of who these characters are. You’re going to find out a lot more about Beth, and Michonne, and Daryl—we wanted to take a breath and dig deep and reveal more about who these people are. All of these episodes focus on that to a certain extent.

TWD: One of the things we see this episode is the country club, which wasn’t in the comics. As they explored it, the setting told its own story with the hanging walkers and the looted store—can you talk a little about how you guys came up with that new location?

Kirkman: For the most part, I have to give the credit to Scott Gimple, as he’s the one who’s always pushing us to have the locations tell a story and to visually present what has happened since the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Showing snippets of interesting locations gives us a sense of what goes on in this world when our characters aren’t around and fleshes out the world. There are things happening in other corners of the area that we don’t necessarily see happening, and these locations give us an opportunity to tell more of the story.

TWD: Sure. Locations can tell stories that you don’t necessarily have time to explore with new characters or side stories.

Kirkman: Exactly. And there are other pockets of civilization out there, it’s just that they’re dropping like flies. Rather than showing that there are tons of people here and there and everywhere, it’s better to show how these people didn’t survive. It really just makes [Rick’s] group much more unique because we seeing that other people aren’t making it. And that also makes it that much more important that our group stay alive.

TWD: This episode ends with another strong musical montage (“Up the Wolves” by The Mountain Goats). What’s the process for choosing music on TWD?

Kirkman: It’s a collaborative process. Scott Gimple and our music supervisor Thomas Golubić are always looking for cool songs to work in, but overall it’s a team process.

TWD: The episode ends with Daryl burning down the house, and with it, his past. Is it important to give Daryl this closure before moving to Season 5?

Kirkman: To a certain extent, I think this episode was all about Daryl finding a reason to carry on and not give up. By the end, he’s burning that despair he was feeling at the beginning of the episode and celebrating the companionship he’s found with Beth, which is going to give him a new reason to survive.

Thanks as always to Robert for taking the time to chat! And we’ll see you knuckleheads next week!

  1. George March 2, 2014 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Character development my ass! This episode was complete and utter horse shit. Weak excuse for an episode. Thanks for letting us know that Beth has never drank before, wow my god, such a fucking plot twist I shit my pants when I found that out. Oh and for telling us Daryl was a redneck with a harsh past, I didn’t know that, oh wait…since the Walking Dead went big the show has really gone downhill. All of a sudden with Daryl having a swarm of fangirls they need to develop his character, great fucking job Kirkman. Another amazing episode.

    • March 3, 2014 at 4:52 am - Reply

      Although I’d phrase it differently, I have to agree that this episode lacked much new or exciting. I somewhat wondered about each character’s past (not just Daryl’s) but it did seem a bit extreme to spend an entire episode telling us that Daryl was a redneck who followed his brother (which was strongly implied in earlier episodes) and Beth was a liquor virgin who could, nevertheless, defend herself. As for Daniel Boyer’s comments that he likes “episodes where no one gets killed”, I think he’s watching the wrong show. There are lots of shows where people don’t get killed – this isn’t among them.

    • thewalkingdeadfanatic2 March 3, 2014 at 7:27 am - Reply

      there were certain scenes i enjoyed….but not all of them. I would have rather delved into a different backstory if i was a writer……It didnt give him any depth to just find out he was kinda a lone ranger. we already knew that! Beth is so…whiney (pun intended) and daryl was acting odd for the majority of this episode. I wouldve liked it id daryl ad been like a computer nerd or something, and worked at the ipad store……that would be funny! i liked the laughing tone of episode 11…..this episode….meh…….the one thing i will praise for is that beth is growing up a bit……she’s less mousy, and is FINNALY standing up for herself. And i got a kick out of the pink bra ashtray…

      • George March 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm - Reply

        I liked how after the prison attack and Daryl thinking he’s lost the people who are closer than family to him shut down. They could have made that episode a million times better than it was by at least reuniting Daryl with Carol and him getting the hope back to look for the others. But Daryl and Beth just getting drunk seemed stupid and just a filler.

  2. Daniel Boyer March 2, 2014 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    I thought this was a fun episode…and one that is filled with trivia questions…if someone comes out with some trivia game about the show…name of the country club, what was printed on the spoon, ect…thought it was an interesting thing, having Daryl come across that money…and his reaction to collect that cash…Beth wondering why…

    The Beth wanting a drink…reminded me of a recent comic book episode…where someone didn’t want to piss in a cup…went outside and got himself killed…both the TV share and comics…add little basic things in life…that are very real small situations…but have grave consequences…glad no one died…seeking out that drink…

    I appreciate the back stories on Daryl…takes rumors out of the equation…he was not a cop, secret agent or any of the other crazy stories out there…he was just a red neck…living a red neck life…and that is why folks love him…

    One of the best episodes in the history of this show…I like the episodes where no one gets killed…since the series started the Governor episodes this season…this series has picked up a more interesting pace…I did not care for the disease that spread in the prison episodes…

    • thewalkingdeadfanatic2 March 3, 2014 at 7:34 am - Reply

      i agree where you say you didnt care for the disease…i thought that was pretty boring. but i have to say, i thought the redneck backstory was dumb…..i wouldve rather delved into who dary WAS not who he is….suck it beth!and i as well do like these past episodes of this second half season. but it gets a bit annoying not to see everybody. thats why i liked episode 11, nobody got killed, but it was a funny episode with definate zombie murder, and a tad bit of sadness. i really hope that there are more episodes like that in the future….but i would rather not see this one again.

  3. Chuck Slaybaugh March 2, 2014 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    George, correct me if I’m wrong, but no one is making you watch this amazing show. Go hate on that MTV shit.

    • George March 4, 2014 at 6:45 am - Reply

      You’re correct, I’m not being forced to watch the show. I enjoy watching the walking dead. But when they give an episode like this, I don’t enjoy it. Go on, tell em that this episode was full of character development and that I’m not a true fan who just wants action. Go suck a dick, this episode did. Season 2 had more going for it than this season. Fuck a goat.

      • GeorgeFromDTown March 5, 2014 at 7:22 am - Reply

        George, you don’t deserve to have such a great name, lol Yea, go watch MTV, sounds like its more your speed, maybe this show is to mature for you. That being said, the writers and producers of TWD are by no means beholdent to you or any of us for that matter. If they want to take an episode and do some great character build and drama that helps us define an individual, PLEASE by all means do that. Don’t worry about these Jersey shore types that cant think deeper then a peanut size thought. Good work WD don’t sell out!

        • George March 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm - Reply

          Jersey Shore probably does have more character development than that episode…I have nothing wrong with an episode with a slow paced episode, when they actually put good character development and story in the episode. Maybe I could forgive Walking Dead for this dreadful episode if it wasn’t for Norman Reedus’ terrible put on drunk voice.

  4. Bastet March 3, 2014 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Beth thinks Daryl could be the last man standing. I had to laugh at that part. My bets are on Carl.

  5. Pablo Martínez Dutra March 3, 2014 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    I really feel sorry for those who can’t see this amazing show (hell, a damn universe we’ve got, not just a simple tv series) as something more than a simple action drama. Really really sorry for those short-view people.

    412 was probably one of the best episodes in a long time. The exploration of the entire universe of Kirkman by two characters that didn’t really exist in the original story (comic) in brand new scenarios that narrates all by themselves a lot of stories at the same time. Thanks for this Gimple and Kirkman.

  6. strgzer March 3, 2014 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    Beth has come such a long way since being scared silly and ready to off herself because zombie relatives got put down. Daryl is original to TWD universe and I luv it.

  7. Itaruga March 4, 2014 at 9:20 am - Reply

    I already miss Rick, and surprisingly, even Carl lol. I can’t wait for their next episode 🙂

  8. Blue March 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    I didn’t like this episode. slow.. boring.

    • skp March 6, 2014 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      Initially, I had the same reaction, but I’ve come to realize it’s driven from frustration at so many loose ends and unanswered questions and goddamnit, I have to wait another week?!?!

      Since I love watching the series binge-style (or ‘like a movie,’) I sat down and watched 409 thru 412 together, and it gave me a new appreciation for this single episode. On the edge of my seat, can’t wait to see what happens next! This episode is only slow on its own- it’s fantastic in terms of the series.

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