2:06 pm - 04/04/2014

Interview with Scott Gimple (TWD Showrunner)

The long wait for the Season 5 premiere of "The Walking Dead" is only made more difficult by the fact that Sunday's Season 4 finale was so satisfying and full of promise for an exciting next chapter in the story of Rick Grimes and his zombie apocalypse cohorts. To break down everything we saw in "A," the finale episode, and provide several hints at what might be ahead on "TWD," Yahoo TV talked to showrunner and Executive Producer Scott Gimple for the scoop.

The new season starts shooting in a few weeks, which means you've already been in the writers room for a while, right?
Yes, since January. I basically was off for Christmas week, but working on the show in some capacity, whether it be closing Season 4 or planning for Season 5 pretty much straight through.

But we're guessing you're not complaining about that. You clearly love what you're doing.
Yeah, you said it. I quite love it. The only complaints are usually like, you know, wanting more hours in the day to do it, and wanting to be in two places at the same time. But I feel very lucky to be able to do it. I was trying to figure out what doing something like this is like, you know, what's the metaphor for it. And I think — and believe me, I'm not an outdoorsy person in the least. Anybody on this cast or crew will tell you. But I think it must be like what climbing Mount Everest is like, because it is — it's beautiful. It's amazing. Not a whole lot of people get to do it. It can be very scary. But in the end, it's unbelievably satisfying. It's — you know, it's all of us climbing up a mountain together. And we need each other to get up that mountain. And then we have this beautiful, unbelievable view… and suddenly we're back at base camp again. And the Sherpas are getting ready, and we're going right back up.

Many of us are trying to figure out Terminus. At the end, we were pretty convinced the Terminus people are absolutely cannibals. But then, thinking about what was written on the wall in the creepy candle room at Terminus — "Never again. Never trust. We first, always" — it suggests something traumatic has happened to the people at Terminus, as well.
Yeah, I mean, those candles are lit. If the candles weren't lit and the place was in disrepair, maybe that would be something from the past. But it's obviously some sort of operating memorial, which, of course, just like you said, if these guys are such villains, why does it look like something bad happened to them?

How long into the new season will we kind of find out what their overall plan is?
Extremely, extremely quickly. Yeah. I mean, the storyline, that was always the plan. There are kind of plans… whereas we have a pretty good handle on Season 5, we have a fairly good handle on Season 6, too. It's not a great deal of detail for Season 6, but a lot of general stuff for Season 6 is known. And that was the same deal with Season 4, [having a plan going] for Season 5. So as far as Terminus goes, we wanted to get right to a lot of the answers pretty quickly. But I think savvy audience members would know that, too, because it would be bananas to make people wait seven months and then be like, "Hey, hold on another couple episodes." I don't think I'm being shocking by saying that.

The opening of the finale is so hopeful, getting to see Hershel [Scott Wilson] again… and despite all the traumatic things that happen after that, can you also make the point that the ending of the episode is hopeful in a way, too? Obviously it looks very bad for Rick and his friends, but there's also a feeling that Rick is very confident and committed now. Can we look at it like that?
I love that. I mean, that … in my mind, I would never tell the audience what the point is or anything like that. I know what I hope they might think, but once it's out of my hands and in their hands, they own it. It's theirs. That said, I love what you're saying, because that was what I was pursuing, and what we were pursuing as writers and actors and crew people and producers. There are a lot of weird victories in this episode. And I wanted them to be weird victories.

There's a very sweet victory in the flashbacks, and in fact, that's sadly kind of the biggest defeat of the episode, when Hershel said it could be like this all the time. And obviously that's not true. But the victories of this episode are, you know, Rick biting another man's throat. It's horrific and awful, and yet he can do that without angst, without wringing his hands, without questioning himself. He can the next morning, covered in blood — and you're thinking "Oh, boy. Well, Rick's lost it, he no longer has a heart" — tell Daryl that he's his brother. He can do that and be integrated. And then Carl, who is so worried about whether he's a monster now, that's an incredible victory for him. Because last year, he wasn't worried about whether he was a monster after he shot a kid in the face.

Revealing the rest Michonne's backstory, via her conversation with Carl, was very hopeful, too.
Yes, Michonne shared her past to comfort Carl. A lot of weird victories. And then the last one, from an emotional standpoint, it's just an incredible victory for Rick that he was not ready for leadership… [now], he's ready without fear, with total confidence, to take on a very, very difficult situation. To me, that's a happy ending, and yet [laughing] they're in a railcar and things are not looking good. So, you know, different kinds of victories for this very, very complex and brutal world.

One of the most entertaining things about Season 4 is all the big and little storyline and character details that were dropped throughout the episodes, and then paid off later in the season. What is your process for creating, and then weaving into the episodes, all these Easter eggs that pay off so nicely throughout the season?
I think it starts with the character stories. And then, character stories with certain practical plot realities, things that either we know we want to get to or things we have to get to, to get to other places we want to get to. Mapping those out from the start and just all of us being very aware of those high points and those end points... it gives us an opportunity to serve them along the way, but not necessarily in the most direct way. We want to stack things up emotionally.

One of the things I talk about in the writers room is, what are the moments leading to the moment? What are the things along the way that take the audience on the journey to the big crossing of the threshold. Like the stuff with Lizzie and Mika. I remember while Angela [Kang] was writing Episode 2, I sat down with her, and I was like, "Oh, could you have this thing about Mika telling Lizzie to look at the flowers when she gets really upset about her father's death?" And even talking to Angela about the whole thing about Lizzie having to kill her father with a knife, and stab him in the head, which she couldn't do, because she didn't want him not to become a walker, but we didn't want her to say that out loud. We just wanted to make sure that was part of her personality.

It's all of us jumping into each other's offices and being like, "Oh, yeah, I know you're working on Episode 3, but there's this thing [it leads to] in Episode 15, and we've just got to make sure that we have the journey. So where are they at this point of their journey to get to that point? And how do we serve that, or how can that make something cool even in this moment in the timeline?" It's the height of teamwork and the height of just being on the same page. It's trying to tell it like it's one gigantic movie.

Rick and his fellow railcar hostages were happy to see each other when they reunited in the railroad car, but they didn't hug each other. They weren't particularly excited. Obviously, they have pressing concerns on their minds, but is this also an indication that, after so much time spent apart, it's going to be a little challenging for them to gel again as a group?
I think that's a really good observation. I think they absolutely, for the most part, will be able to gel, I guess in a direct way, fairly easily, especially in the circumstances that they're in, whenever, or if, they can take a breath. But when this all clears, if it clears, the different experiences they had while they were apart… Maggie and Glenn, their experience was incredibly positive. If you look at Rick's, it was sort of in the middle. If they ever see Carol again, she had a very different experience, and they'll be carrying their experiences into the next season. And absolutely there will be a little difficulty in understanding each other's places. Right now, all of them except for a few are very much in the same boat. Or railcar. We'll see what happens if they ever wind up being able to take a breath.


Now that we've seen an entire season with Gimple as showrunner, how do you think he's doing?
tenma_desu 4th-Apr-2014 07:20 pm (UTC)
that picture <3 why do i love everything about this show except the show itself
emerald_soul 4th-Apr-2014 07:30 pm (UTC)
Uh, they better see Carol again.
devourlove 4th-Apr-2014 07:38 pm (UTC)
i feel like he's trying to leave it ~~mysterious~~ but i feel like they'll run into her. idk what she'd do this entire season if she and tyrese didn't eventually make it to terminus
buncha_cruncha 4th-Apr-2014 07:43 pm (UTC)
I want her to come and save the day somehow.
donnanoble 4th-Apr-2014 07:53 pm (UTC)
She and Tyrese will save them.
mikochin 4th-Apr-2014 08:25 pm (UTC)
Here's hoping she'll try to save the, only to realize everyone except Michonne has been killed. Then we can move forward with C and M and skip the other non-factors.
stayinthetv 4th-Apr-2014 08:26 pm (UTC)
I'm good with Sasha too. Make it a trifecta.
mikochin 4th-Apr-2014 08:31 pm (UTC)
I literally don't even remember who Sasha is... But that also means I'll be fine if she doesn't die. As long as all them other boring flops die.
stayinthetv 4th-Apr-2014 08:32 pm (UTC)
Sasha is the one in the female Cosby sweater....Tyreese's sister. She has common sense, which is more than I can say for most of these people.
mikochin 4th-Apr-2014 10:20 pm (UTC)
Ah, the girl with the "special needs" brother! Bless her, but she should just dump that brother of hers. He's useless.
_underwhelmed 5th-Apr-2014 12:38 am (UTC)
useless?! i love tyreese! he took those girls and protected them (until that little bitch snapped) his heart is in the right place!
mikochin 5th-Apr-2014 10:28 am (UTC)
He seems really sweet, but a little... Slow.
redwings 4th-Apr-2014 07:32 pm (UTC)
Now that we've seen an entire season with Gimple as showrunner, how do you think he's doing?
C, C+ on a good day

i thought this season was more ~ensembley which i appreciated, but the writing still sucks and the dialogue is completely interchangeable between characters so most of the time it's still impossible to care who lives or dies or shits or cries etc.
wauwy 4th-Apr-2014 09:25 pm (UTC)
This accuracy.
moon_river_315 4th-Apr-2014 07:33 pm (UTC)
He gets major points for not wanting to tell us what to think or interpret, the show runners I usually have the most trouble with are ones who try to tell me how to interpret something I see negative as positive for example (which happens the most with ships ugh) bc they say so. Its better to just understand some people wont always see things the same way
mistress_f 4th-Apr-2014 07:35 pm (UTC)
this season has had such ups and downs. like after the midseason finale i just stopped watching and binge-watched the other day the whole 2nd part. cause i had lost hope. second part was better (minus the daryl and beth episode, that shit dragged on forever ain't nobody got time for that), had the amazing carol episode, loved rick-michonne-and omg i even ended up liking coooaaarrrll. but they need to balance the pacing cause between a couple eps of the second part and the neverending governor shit nobody cared about it really lost me at some point
confusingjoy 4th-Apr-2014 08:31 pm (UTC)
this was pm me, and ita about the pacing. I think some of the episodes were great and some of the best in the series, but it felt a bit inconsistent at points. idk, I'll have to rewatch the whole season over again in a shorter span of time in order to make a better judgement.

Edited at 2014-04-04 08:41 pm (UTC)
wentwarth 5th-Apr-2014 01:27 am (UTC)
flawless taste, flawless comment (and icon)
bemythugtonight 4th-Apr-2014 07:36 pm (UTC)
watched it today and i swear one of my all time favorite twd-episodes
i love the friendship/mother-son-relationship between michonne and coaarrlll
and the scene with daryl and rick dsjajfdkasfklajsfklajj
devourlove 4th-Apr-2014 07:40 pm (UTC)
same. this whole comment is me exactly. maybe cuz i was marathoning the whole show but i thought the finale was at least satisfying
confusingjoy 4th-Apr-2014 08:37 pm (UTC)
all of this.

also their little family triangle~ is part of why "Clear" is also one of my favorite episodes of the show. I never really knew how to feel about Carl, but his scenes w/ Michonne always bring out some of the more interesting parts of his character tbh.
la_petite_singe 4th-Apr-2014 07:43 pm (UTC)
Eh, I kind of liked the slow, character-focused stories in the second half of this season, but at times it felt like they were just doing it like that because they didn't have anything else to fill the time. And new redshirts + Terminus just feels like same ol', same ol' (the farm, the prison, whatever else) and it's annoying, so I hope they have a good plan for next year. I REALLY want to get to DC with Mullet Scientist Guy, just because that's actually a new plot direction.

Edited at 2014-04-04 07:43 pm (UTC)
devourlove 4th-Apr-2014 07:43 pm (UTC)
maybe it's because i was watching teen wolf but i think this season was great. also i marathoned it, but it did what it could do and solidified relationships, there was character development, hella flashbacks i guess that prove not all moments between corl and rick were shit

season 3, in comparison, really draggedddd cuz you're like "could they literally just get on with it" but season 4, they were moving, facing the world again in their own ways. Idk, i thought it was tight and it actually made me excited for season 5
buncha_cruncha 4th-Apr-2014 07:45 pm (UTC)
IA, I like that they were all on the move. I think that added to the feeling that things were actually happening, unlike other seasons when they were just hanging out at the prison or the farm or whatever.
_underwhelmed 5th-Apr-2014 12:39 am (UTC)
yes i liked that they were moving too....adds more suspense, like WHO WILL THEY ENCOUNTER NEXT?!
shining_starsxx 4th-Apr-2014 07:43 pm (UTC)
He's not bad. I just think he lets some things drag on for too long. This is coming from someone who loved the shit out of season 2. That being said,I think the finale was great and if season 5 is like that,then I'm here for it.

I don't hate Daryl or Beth but got damn they could have kept that episode.

Edited at 2014-04-04 07:46 pm (UTC)
donnanoble 4th-Apr-2014 07:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah i really think that the midseason 4 finale should have been the season 3 finale
of course i'm sure part of that is mazzara's fault but still, the prison dragged on way too long.
zombieroadtrip 5th-Apr-2014 04:35 am (UTC)
lol somehow the daryl and beth episode is one of my favorites even though everyone seems to hate it
lovelymae 4th-Apr-2014 07:44 pm (UTC)
I don't understand what the interviewer meant by the group being separated for so long. I thought it has been like a week since the prison...?????
mikochin 4th-Apr-2014 08:21 pm (UTC)
idk, maybe s/he got confused by the fact that nothing has happened in a season except for a lot of boring people walking along train tracks?
xx_shelly_xx 4th-Apr-2014 07:47 pm (UTC)
I love this season.
shiningautumn 4th-Apr-2014 07:49 pm (UTC)
overall gimple has done a passable job, but the pacing is still a serious issue. it's really bad. I do love how rick, michonne and carl have developed over the season individually and as a unit. wish I could say the same for my other favs glenn and maggie.

no excuse for two entire eps devoted to the governor.
jonesingjay 4th-Apr-2014 07:59 pm (UTC)
The long wait for the Season 5 premiere of "The Walking Dead" is only made more difficult by the fact that Sunday's Season 4 finale was so satisfying and full of promise

so satisfying and full of promise? bullshit.
mikochin 4th-Apr-2014 08:20 pm (UTC)
ikr, it was shit
frklphace 4th-Apr-2014 08:07 pm (UTC)
this picture just makes me sad that i don't have girlfriends.
babydontsweat 4th-Apr-2014 08:08 pm (UTC)
i like that gimple wants to use some of the comic storylines. this season was too slow and boring. i hope they realize that slowing things down and having episodes for useless character (governor/beth) is a waste of time. i rather they cut down the episodes than stretch it out like that again. jesus.

anyway, RICHONNE please. that's all i ask for season 5.
mikochin "Sunday's Season 4 finale was so satisfying and full of promise"4th-Apr-2014 08:20 pm (UTC)
autoscopy 4th-Apr-2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
more carol

more women who have things to do other than looking hot and/or getting killed.
theqinra 4th-Apr-2014 09:01 pm (UTC)
Why do people always pucker their lips in photos?
prophecypro 4th-Apr-2014 09:04 pm (UTC)
Okay season but the show kinda is on neutral even with the deaths. It does go through some weird consistencies probably cause of the multiple showrunners
sauron 4th-Apr-2014 09:43 pm (UTC)
yeah i really do hope he's not kidding about the "getting to answers quickly" thing cause i don't want them to drag terminus out until the midseason finale and we'd have to wait couple of months to get a some answers which will most likely be really stupid and not worth the wait.
andieray 4th-Apr-2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
This season just didn't have the same je ne sais quoi as season 1 and 2. 3 was alright, but this one was just ehhh... Still enjoyed it, just not as much as the first two.

I think I'd just like to see some expansion again. Got really hopeful about a possible trajectory with going to Washington. I thought them going to cities and the CDC and all that was so interesting.

Haven't seen any further plot development surrounding the mutated virus that started off this season too. No other zombies with bloody eyes. Thought that had potential, alas...
eightball 4th-Apr-2014 11:12 pm (UTC)
im rewatching it from the beginning and it's such a different show. they're all babies, or everyones dead. ugh lori and shane are probably the worst two characters ever.
roxiful 5th-Apr-2014 12:37 am (UTC)
lol I streamed the finale after it aired and when I saw Hershel, I clicked out of it because I thought I opened the wrong episode.
ex_nihilo 5th-Apr-2014 01:58 am (UTC)
I thought I got trolled at first too! Hahaha.
kissmesteph 5th-Apr-2014 01:34 am (UTC)
Season 4 was by far my favourite. I can't wait for season 5.
mutant_horse 5th-Apr-2014 05:26 am (UTC)
I got so bored towards the end, its tough to balance characters and action but come ON.
artemis_a23 5th-Apr-2014 11:33 pm (UTC)
Its biggest problem is that they're dragging things so they won't run out of source material, because there are not many storylines left before they get to Alexandria.
I thought this season was good overall. I think that season 3 ruined many characters so it's difficult to recover from that lol
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