The Walking Dead Q&A — Scott Gimple Explains Rick & Michonne's Role In The Series Finale

Scott Gimple is an executive producer of The Walking Dead and the overlord of The Walking Dead Universe. In this interview with, he talks about the Commonwealth's new leadership, revisiting fan favorite characters, and maybe learning more about the CRM down the line.

Q: Can you talk about the decision for Ezekiel to be the new post-Milton leader of the Commonwealth?
A: When Angela [Kang] and the writers looked at Ezekiel's storyline and what he went through, what he got from the Commonwealth even though he wasn't asking for it, how he in many ways rallied people in the end to join Mercer in saving the Commonwealth, it seemed like the natural arc for him. Especially someone who had had a kingdom and who had been a leader. That was something within him regardless of the place.

Q: When you talk about what Ezekiel got from the Commonwealth even though he wasn't asking for it, are you talking about the lifesaving surgery he got?
A: Yeah, I was. And he sees what the Commonwealth could be.

That's sort of his gift.
A: Yeah, whether it's vision or optimism. It's part of the character that we've shown for years. I will say that one of the things we talked about at the beginning of the season is something that Matt [Negrete] and I talked about with Angela in Season 9, Episode 5, which Matt and I wrote and which was Rick's last episode. It was about looking at the whole of the story and really looking at what it all meant. What did all this mean? Where did all this lead? For Rick, it was finding his family in the beginning, and it was finding his family in the end. For Ezekiel, he played a role as a king as an actor might, and yet, underneath that, he truly was a leader. That's what we see at the end of his story and the series.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about Mercer too? He was a leader already, but now he has a new role in the Commonwealth government.
A: It's interesting. He was a leader, but he was just executing orders. It was meeting people like Rosita, Daryl, Princess and everybody else that affected him. He was being a leader, but he wasn't making decisions. In the end, he had to make the biggest one for the fate of the Commonwealth. It was through his relationships with our characters that he changed that way and brought out something that was within him, but in a more heroic, more positive, even more sacrificial kind of way.

Q: Will we ever get to see the Commonwealth again and see how it all works out with Ezekiel and Mercer as its leaders?
A: I would say it’s entirely possible. I certainly love these characters. I think a lot of people love these characters, so I would really hope that we could. 

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the decision to have the Rick and Michonne scenes basically end the series?
A: The piece that we see has much more to do with the entirety of The Walking Dead and isn't so much a teaser for the Rick/Michonne show or even necessarily a purposeful peek into that show. That sequence is about the whole of The Walking Dead, meaning all the characters, and again, what it's all meant. It takes themes from the final episode, and it furthers them. To do that, we needed to see Rick and Michonne and it just so happens that they’re caught in these incredible situations, these really crazy worlds, having to deal with really different things. But we're seeing them as a continuum of all the characters that we've seen on the show. 
We're seeing that the way they've gotten through is by drawing strength from each other, whether living or dead, and that they continue to have a relationship with all the people they love, all the people they've met, all the people that affected them. It's this continuum, this one big life that they all share together. The people who go, the people who stay, whether that means leaving this life or just leaving the environment that the rest are in, like Rick and Michonne. It really is about the characters and how they will always be connected. To do that, we do need to show where Rick and Michonne are and what they're doing. We don't have a lot of explanation on that, but we get about the biggest peek we've seen in some time. Our goal was to have something very, very conclusive and very, very emotional getting to that idea of what did all of it mean? What was all of it about? 

Q: You said that these Rick and Michonne scenes take the themes of the final episode and further them. Do you mean the fact that people are always there for you, whether they're alive or dead? 
A: That's exactly it. Those people are a part of who you are because they've made you who you are. They're never entirely gone — definitely themes we've touched upon in the series.

Q: Rick's final scenes include CRM references. He's wearing a jacket with the CRM logo and there's a helicopter. What can you say about that?
A: Well, yeah, as a part of seeing where Rick is and what he's up to, we see the world in which he’s inhabiting or maybe trying to get away from. And yes, there is one of those helicopters like the one that ferried him away from near Alexandria.

Q: Can we expect to see more of the CRM on Fear the Walking Dead or any of the new spin-offs?
A: This clip would seem to indicate that.

Q: Is there any part of the series finale that sets up the storylines for the three new spin-offs?
A: The way that I looked at it and Angela looked at it, we didn't want to treat the end of The Walking Dead as setting up these other shows. I think that would put us into a certain narrative space we didn't necessarily want to be in. It really is about concluding The Walking Dead. Certainly, we’re leaving room for those other shows and we're not contradicting those next shows, but the story we're telling is very, very much about concluding The Walking Dead and concluding the story of The Walking Dead. There will be other stories, but this is wholly about The Walking Dead. 
Even this little bit with Rick and Michonne, I think people will see "whoa, there's stuff going on with them!" But what they're talking about and what the message is has everything to do with what The Walking Dead has been, even what this finale has been, and our goal is really to integrate it into that story. We just happen to have to see a little bit of where they're at, but we're really hoping it doesn't overshadow the finale. 

People really want to see Rick and Michonne, so it's great that it's in the finale and it's so close to the end of the episode that it doesn't take away from the overall story of the survivors and the Commonwealth.
A: That was the goal and I hope we succeeded at that. It's always up to the audience, but I feel we threaded the needle that way. I hope we did.

Q: There’s more story to tell for all the main characters of the new spin-offs. How did you land on spin-offs for those particular people?
A: I mean, they're very big characters in the series. But I will say, I'm hoping these are the first stories and characters we explore, and I really hope we do more. I will say that for Tales of The Walking Dead, my plan was to have a lot more of the old characters on there. 
I hope we get to do that eventually and I really, really do want to get into these other characters and other mythologies and other situations, so I'm hoping these are the first.

Q: Are you talking about having more Tales episodes or more spin-offs?
A: More Tales episodes or limited series or spin-offs. I have a lot of dreams of doing more. Right now, we're concentrating on these, but give us a little while and I hope that we can jump into other characters. In some ways, we are working on some, but we're not urgently working on them. We want to get these shows up on their feet and then start widening out the world again. 

Q: The fans have grown so attached to all the characters on The Walking Dead. Is there a strong possibility that we'll see some of them again in the Maggie/Negan, Daryl, and Rick/Michonne spin-offs?
A: Yeah, I mean we very well might. There is that as well. We are trying to have this continuous world. The thing about The Walking Dead that makes it The Walking Dead are the characters. We love these characters and I really want to see more of them and work with more of them.

Q: Will we see more of the variant walkers or any other new kinds of walkers in the spin-offs or anywhere else? At the end of The Walking Dead: World Beyond, we did see those different walkers in France. Will Daryl be encountering those walkers in his spin-off?
A: Well, we saw at the end of World Beyond a different situation with walkers. We saw a very fast reanimation and a walker that seemed a bit sprightly. That was in France, and Daryl's going to France, so things might be a little weird out there. I will say that walkers are not changing across the board. But, as we saw in the last block of Season 11, there might be different things in the mix.

Q: Lastly, what do you think The Walking Dead's legacy is going to be?
A: I'm hoping that this is a show that brought people together in conversation and sometimes argument. It challenged people to ask themselves what they would do in various situations. I'm hoping that we have this 150-plus hours of story that will live on, that people will be pulling off the shelves to go on this journey again and again through the years asking themselves those questions and finding other people to talk about them with. I will say we are so lucky to have been one of the last television shows. What I mean by that is, with this show having started in 2010, the way that we watch television is very different. So much of TV when people fire it up now, the first question they're asked is who's watching and the names of the different people in the household. The thing that I loved about The Walking Dead is that everybody was watching, that it wasn't a lone person in a room. So many times, I hear about families that watched together. That's crazy nowadays. Teenagers, parents watching together. Viewing parties. 
That was a time when — I mean, it's ridiculous, I sound like my grandfather — people gathered around a set at a specific time together. Twitter was around and online discussion was certainly around, but a lot of that discussion happened in real life among friends, co-workers, and people they went to school with, people they went to religious institutions with. I just feel so, so lucky to have been a part of something that brought people together in conversation and brought strangers together. I was a part of something that gave people something to talk about on Mondays. That is the ultimate privilege and to get that in right before it all ended, I just feel so, so, so lucky.

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