Walking Dead exec explains those shocking deaths + teases what's next

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Dec 2, 2013, 1:47 PM EST

Fans have been clamoring for a prison showdown since last season, and they finally got it. So, what does Walking Dead showrunner Scott Gimple have to say about all that death?

Big spoilers ahead for last night’s The Walking Dead:

Quite a lot, thankfully, as he had a lengthy chat with The Hollywood Reporter to explain the decision-making behind those two major deaths (and the myriad smaller deaths in between). Basically? They wanted to remix some of the most iconic comic scenes (“Kill them all!”), while tweaking the events to mesh with the divergences of the TV series.

As for Hershel (Scott Wilson) and the Governor’s (David Morrissey) shocking deaths? Gimple says the Governor’s demise was a fitting end to his arc, after getting the spotlight in the past two episodes. Oh, and Hershel? Gimple promises that loss is the perfect catalyst to push Rick and the gang, as the ol’ fella had become the moral compass of the group.

Here are some excerpts from the death dealer:

On The Governor: “We threw the ball around on all possibilities last year and threw them around this year; it's part of the writers' room experience. I don't think that there was big push last year for the Governor story to end, and I certainly agree that there was more story I wanted to tell with the Governor. I do believe that this episode -- and both the story from the first five episodes and the Governor's two episodes after that -- was those stories crashing together. Those were also the endings to those individual stories. This episode was very much an ending for those two episodes -- "Live Bait" and "Dead Weight" -- for the Governor's story, not simply because he died but what he was trying to do at the prison and how everything went down. How he finally was defined to be a person who did what he did.”

On Hershel: “From a story standpoint, they lost the prison, they lost their home, civilization and Hershel was the embodiment of a civilized and humanistic approach. This episode and where the story is turning is what happens when all that is taken away, especially for Rick. Hershel was the driving force beyond -- Carl and Judith -- to Rick's change when we join him at the beginning of the season. Everything he tried to achieve had been taken away from him over the first five episodes, and now he's lost the person who walked him through that. It's a very important part of the story that Hershel died; it isn't just shock death. We're going to see now with all these things taken away from Rick if he can come back from this. Moving into the next season and a half, the loss of Hershel will be felt and will be this driving element in Rick's character.”

Gimple was smart enough not to tell us where the story is heading next, but readers of the comic know there are a ton of awesome plot lines in the offing to last at least the next few seasons (or at the current pace, possibly decades).

What he did offer? That the series will hit on “a lot of familiar stuff, brand-new stuff and remixed stuff.” He also promises comic fans will definitely see some more “iconic moments” they’ll recognize.

So, what do you think is next for the gang?

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)