While The Walking Dead's 10th season was supposed to end half a year ago, "A Certain Doom" didn't air until last night. That means its twists, turns, and cliffhangers have been waiting for six months to mess up fans of the undead AMC series. And also that Talking Heads moment has been a wonderful secret. But the cliffhanger is perhaps the episode's most interesting moment, simply because it connects the series to a comic storyline that it's been teasing forever: the Commonwealth.
This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead's Season 10 finale "A Certain Doom."
Speaking to EW, showrunner Angela Kang teased what's coming from the Stormtrooper-esque army and whatever organization it belongs to, as well as a few other key aspects from the long-gestating finale.
"For people who are comic book readers, they'll obviously recognize the guys in the outfits, but I don't want to spoil too much for the fans going forward," Kang said of the white-armored Commonwealth soldiers that Eugene, Yumiko, Princess, and Ezekiel meet at the end of the episode.
"We definitely have our own way into the story. I'll just say that this group does play a very important role going forward for our characters. We're working on pre-production on an episode that picks up with that story and I think there's some cool stuff that comes into that. Who are these people? What are they about? We will start to learn that over time and unpeel those layers of the onion."
This army is a large part of the comic story, which sees a large connected group of towns band together with a beefy fighting force to protect them. That meeting with Stephanie that led to the ambush? Same thing happens in the comics, but those armored soldiers take them off to the Commonwealth gatekeeper Lance and its Governor, Pamela. Who exactly leads this organization in the TV version is pure speculation at this point, but it's certainly something that the six new episodes linking Season 10 and Season 11 will explore.
But back to the finale. The episode also saw a few key moments: the death of Beta and the key use of Talking Heads song “Burning Down the House.”
The former, a collaboration between Negan and Daryl that nobody saw coming, ended the forever-second-in-command baddie with some knives in his eyes. "Negan had his role to play as bait, because he knew he could be great bait, Daryl coming in with the knives, and Beta just the tough guy but also just in some ways, he always knew he would die in the herd," Kang said. "So he got to have this weird, surreal exit, which I think [Beta actor Ryan Hurst] enjoyed — I definitely liked crashing those three characters together at the very end." His love and respect for Alpha continued on in those weird flashbacks as he was dying - another piece of character-centric surrealism that tied the two together.
As for the latter, the series didn't grab the famous song simply for the rhyme of band and show title. Blaring "Burning Down the House" to lure away the herd was part fandom (“There's just a lot of fans of the Talking Heads on the show,” according to Kang), part random.
“I think that that was actually a choice by our editor,” Kang explained. “That was how it came about. It was not one of the ones that was written into the script, because sometimes we do write queues into a script, and either it has to do with the lyrics or the vibe of the music and we're trying to get something across. But, in this case, it was just like, ‘Okay, they're blasting something that's loud rock music.’ And the editor picked this, and then we were listening to it in the edit and we're like, ‘Okay, well, this song is perfect.’”
So perfect, in fact, that even its hefty licensing price tag was worth it when alternatives failed to impress. “The song was expensive,” Kang said. “So there was a point where we're like, ‘We might have to change the song because it's kind of pricey.’ But we tried out different options and none of them ever felt right. So we were like, ‘Okay, let's just scrape up the money from, we'll do this and we'll cut that.’ It just feels like it's the right song. There was no deep, scripted meaning to this one. It just felt so right once it was in the cut and I love it.”
Season 10 of The Walking Dead will continue with six more episodes coming sometime early next year.