SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of last night’s Season 5 winter finale of The Walking Dead.
If you were in any way under the impression that The Walking Dead was going to end its 2014 run on a non-fatal note, last night’s Season 5 midseason finale certainly cured that misunderstanding. Like last season’s winter finale, a major character was violently killed off on the AMC series on Sunday with repercussions that will last far through the rest of the season for the other characters when it returns on February 8 says showrunner Scott M. Gimple.
“This is a crushing blow, this is something that is utterly devastating to them,” the producer says of the death of the Beth character last night just as Rick Grimes and the rest thought they had saved her. “This is something that will affect all of these characters extremely deeply moving into the next half of the season. These characters are being ground down into the Earth.”
While Gimple would predictably not given any specifics, he did say there was more pain to come for Grimes, Daryl Dixon and the rest of the survivors during the rest of what has been a ratings record breaking and Sunday Night Football thrashing Season 5 so far. “I will say that this isn’t the last devastating event to befall these characters,” the now 2 seasons in the job showrunner revealed. “They are being tested and they are being pushed and this isn’t the end of that.”
“I would say that isn’t the entirely of Season 5 B but that being ground down into the Earth is where it starts,” Gimple teased of the episodes to come in 2015 to the blockbuster zombie apocalypse series. “But then things change suddenly and we find ourselves in a very different situation where the rules that were a part of the situation that had been in really don’t apply anymore. And the people that they become may not jive with the situation they find themselves in.
At Comic-Con this year, fellow EP Gale Anne Hurd said that The Walking Dead would this season be taking its characters to much more suburban locations than where Rick, Daryl and the crew had been before. Also down at SDCC 2014, comic co-creator and WD EP Robert Kirkman said this season would stay close to the comic series on which it is based. Last night on the WD after show Talking Dead, Kirkman said a gay character from the comics would be joining the show in the latter part of Season 5. For fans of the familiar with the comics, that points to the Alexandria Safe-Zone, which the survivors travel to on their way to Washington D.C., and the gay character of Aaron meets up with Rick and gang there.
While Gimple wouldn’t be nailed down on whether the upcoming WD gay character is Aaron, he did reveal that such an addition to the show is definitely coming. “I wouldn’t say anything more than that,” laughs Gimple of the now wrapped season. “I just I’ll say that in the comic there is more than one gay character so it may be the one you are thinking of or it may be another one.”
“In the next half of the season there will some deviations but then we are going to get to some areas of the comic that will be very true to the comic,” the producer added. “Its following what we’ve always done, which is taking the comic, mixing things up a bit but staying very true to what it is.” Having first hit the stands in 2003, the Walking Dead comic is currently up to over 140 issues with some elements not in the TV series and some clearly there. “The beginning of the midseason finale was something completely taken from the comics where Rick ran over someone,” notes Gimple. “However much we deviated from the comics this half season we were incredibly faithful to the comics with the Gabriel character and even parts of Grace Memorial Hospital were inspired by both the comics and the novels,” he adds.
That is as far as Gimple would go on what is to come in Season 5 and he wouldn’t touch Season 6 that was announced in October. “I wouldn’t even want to talk about the thematics of Season 6 without people seeing the rest of the Season 5,” he says. “I myself, as a viewer, hate spoilers. I even wrestled with even watching The Force Awakens trailer this weekend,” Gimple explains, revealing his own Star Wars fandom. “I just wanted to go into the movies like I did when I was a little kid, just knowing the title. So as far as potentially spoiling anything for people about The Walking Dead, I’m really not down with it because I want them to enjoy the story.”
Which, if current massive viewership trends continue, will be exactly what million will be doing when the show comes back early next year. Here’s a teaser trailer for Season 5 part 2: