What happened in last night's shocking episode of The Walking Dead will have huge implications for the remainder of the season, says creator Robert Kirkman. Spoilers ahead!
Boy, weren't we all barking up the wrong tree. With all the rumors swirling about what a bit of casting news might mean for another character's long-term prospects, the writers pulled the rug out from under everyone and knocked off the guy who seemed the safest of them all: good ole Dale.
Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Kirkman said the decision to kill off Jeffrey DeMunn's character, who has arguably been the group's voice of reason since the beginning, was a tough one.
"Dale has become the moral center of the group, and especially in this episode for him to be going around and saying, 'Let's retain our humanity,' he's the last guy that's preaching that at this point, with Rick making the decisions he has been making of late," he said. "To lose this guy at this moment means so much for this group. It's going to be such a monumental death that it's going to affect things a great deal moving forward. It seemed like the right time and that to me, all the stories that are going to come out of this that people haven't seen yet are worth losing the Dale/Andrea relationship."
Kirkman adds that killing one of the last characters with a conscience could have some interesting effects on what happens next.
"This is the time more than ever when they really need someone to stand there and say, 'Hey, this is not the popular decision, but I'm still voicing this because it needs to be said.' They don't have that," he said. "Now, we don't know how they're going to deal with Randall, and we don't know what they're going to do as Rick and Shane continue to butt heads. They've lost a very important piece of their ensemble, and so they're not going to be able to make the same decisions they would have made, and that's really going to affect the group as a whole. They are kind of in a bad place, and we're going to have to deal with that."
For fans of the comic, the move was even more shocking, as Dale's pencil-drawn counterpart sticks around for much longer and develops a relationship with another character that lasts for some time. It's not the first time they've deviated from the comic canon, and Kirkman said the sacrifice was more than worth it to ratchet up the intensity level.
"I have talked many times how much I like the difference between the comics and the show. There are going to be big plot lines that we may not necessarily get to, like the romance between Dale and Andrea," he said. "If you think you really want to read that storyline, that's available in the comics, and I highly recommend you pick those up. The show is always going to be a different animal, and the decision to kill Dale off was a big one, and it wasn't one that was made lightly."
Sound off: Do you like where the writers are taking the story in the latter part of season two?
(via The Hollywood Reporter)