At the close of 'The Walking Dead's midseason finale Sunday night, The Governor (David Morrissey) and his people hand down a death sentence for Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), left to right in center, in the town of Woodbury's gladiator pit.(Photo: Tina Rowden, AMC)
Spoiler Alert: If you haven't yet watched Sunday's season finale episode, stop reading now.
AMC's The Walking Dead
is famous for killing off its main characters, and two more lives hung
in the balance at the end of Season 3's nail-biting midseason finale
"One of the best things a TV show can do is give its
audience what it wants, and we think we know our audience pretty well,"
says Robert Kirkman, Walking Dead's creator and executive producer.
Haven't watched the show? Here's the lowdown on Season 3:
Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his very un-merry band of survivors of a
zombie apocalypse had hoped that taking over a Georgia prison and making
it their safe haven meant they'd at last found a home. But things
spiraled out of control, and as happens every season, the body count,
both humans and zombies, ratcheted upward.
In Sunday's episode,
Rick and fan favorite Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), led by the
Kitana-sword wielding Michonne (Danai Gurira), infiltrated Woodbury, the
Governor's (David Morrissey) stronghold, to rescue friends Glenn
(Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), who were kidnapped by Daryl's
long-lost, loose-cannon brother Merle (Michael Rooker).
fight to free them, Daryl was captured; the episode ended with Daryl
and Merle apparently being sentenced to death by the Governor and his
people. The scene takes place in the walled town's gladiator pit, which
could lead fans to believe a brother-on-brother fight to the death will
take place when the season returns in 2013.
"We knew from the
second Merle showed up on the scene, people have been clamoring to see
Merle and Daryl together," Kirkman says; except for a dream sequence in
Season 2, the brothers have not been reunited since the first season.
"We thought the perfect way to end the midseason and lead into our gap
is to throw these two characters together in the least ideal way
This season, says Kirkman, "is moving toward a place
where the zombies are no longer the principal threat. They're still very
much a danger, but the real threat is the other people they are now
encountering. In the evolution of The Walking Dead, this is how that world would be. The other people trying to survive are far more dangerous than any mindless walkers."
a fourth season has yet to be announced, "I think we're all pretty
secure in our planning," Kirkman says. "We've got a lot of plans."
Kirkman's confidence is based, in part, on numbers. The Walking Dead
averages a huge 13 million-plus viewers per episode, and except for
sports is the No. 1 show among viewers 18-49, something no other cable
show has ever achieved.
The remaining eight episodes of Season 3
will most likely air beginning in February. As to what fans can
anticipate: "Things are spiraling out of control very quickly," Kirkman
says. "We can see Daryl is in the lion's den and that is a situation
that Rick is going to have to figure out almost immediately, or else
Daryl is going to die, and I don't think anyone wants that to happen. So
let's hope that Rick gets his act together in time to do that."
also, says Kirkman, see an even darker side of the Governor, "much more
so than we've seen thus far. I think things are kind of going to kick
into overdrive, and we're going to see quite a few clashes between the
two groups (Woodbury and Rick's group), which are going to be pretty
devastating to both sides. Believe it or not, I think the second half of
the season is probably going to get even more intense than it's already
Which could mean more main characters dying off and new
ones coming in. So far, Season 3 has seen the loss of Lori Grimes
(Sarah Wayne Callies) and T-Dog (Robert "IronE" Singleton). Also,
countless zombies and prison inmates, National Guardsmen and members of
the Woodbury militia we never really got to know. And last, but not
least, Hershel's (Scott Wilson's) right leg.
In addition to
embracing the Governor and Michonne, two characters from the comic
books, and reintroducing Merle, this season has welcomed Lori's baby,
Judith, and said hello and goodbye to the Governor's zombie daughter
Penny. And the prison took in more refugees, including Tyrese (Chad
Coleman), another favorite from the comic books.
"It's a shame
when people go because we all really like each other," says Reedus. "It
just sucks. Andy (Lincoln) and I were looking at a photo the other day
and out of the original cast in Season 1, I think four of us are left.
When somebody goes we have a death dinner, and it's depressing."
teases, "it doesn't look good for Daryl" in Sunday's closing scene, and
he says he played the scene "like I was going to die." But Kirkman says
whittling away at the core group doesn't concern him. "I have the good
fortune of having done this story for almost a decade in comic book
form, and in the comic book we're down to three people that were of the
core group" and people seem to embrace the new characters as they come
in, he says.
"I guess there could be a concern that you're killing
off people's favorites, but I actually feel that keeping people's
favorites around is disingenuous and would make this show feel hokey and
fake, and then nobody would want to watch it," Kirkman says. "I feel
like the danger of the show, the fact anyone could die at any moment, is
one of the key features that has led to its popularity."