Warning: This interview for the “First Day of the Rest of Your Life” episode of The Walking Dead contains storyline and character spoilers.
Rick Grimes was betrayed twice, shot, nearly got his hands smashed, lost longtime friend Sasha, nearly lost his son to Negan and his girlfriend to a particularly vicious Heapster, and was on the receiving end of a surprising sexual proposition from Jadis, the woman whose betrayal nearly got a lot of people killed in The Walking Dead Season 7 finale.
TWD showrunner Scott Gimple talked to Yahoo TV about the wrap-up to the season that began with those brutal murders of Glenn and Abraham, including what Jadis really thinks about Rick and the other humans, how Abraham’s “return” helped showcase why Rick’s group has become a family bonded together forever, and how, despite the Heapsters’ backstabbing, Season 8 will open with the Alexandrians, Hilltoppers, and Kingdomites riding high on the momentum of being able to run Negan out of town.
Yahoo TV: The finale felt like an appropriate look back and acknowledgement of how you’ve gotten to what will be the 100th episode, and also a huge beginning to a lot of new storylines.
Scott Gimple: Yeah, it was 99thy. It was very cumulative. It was about these characters affecting and changing each other and the continuum of how they still exist to each other.
Before we get into the heavier stuff, you had hinted to me earlier this season that there were some lighter moments in the season finale. I love the Trust a Move moving company. It is one of the best company names ever, and I’m imagining there would be a jingle that goes along with it, to the tune of “Bust a Move.”
What’s funny is the initial credit must be given to Robert [Kirkman] or Charlie [Adlard]… in the comic book it was Bust a Move. It was in the exact same font. And I just wanted to use Bust a Move in the exact same font it was in in the comic. And we couldn’t. A company’s taken it. So, I can’t remember if it was Angela Kang or Matt Negrete, who I wrote this episode with… I think it was Matt Negrete, who was like, “How can we get really close to Bust a Move?” And there was a long list, and Trust a Move was there. Trust a Move’s really good. I think somebody’s gonna grab that one for a company name too. Because people are feeling Trust a Move, and it’s a wonderful salute to the fusion of the comic and TV show.
It’s also made even funnier because in that wider shot we see it in, Daryl is standing there in the truck, getting ready to rig it to blow up a whole bunch of people, some who tortured him, and he is just so not in a Trust a Move, punny kind of place.
He’s not up for puns in that moment, no.
There’s also Ezekiel’s best new phrase to describe the Saviors and their “capricious malevolence.” That should be a band name, on a T-shirt… whatever you can do with that.
Well, Khary… it’s all Khary. We’re putting that down on paper, kind of like, “Oh, I hope that works,” and then you hear Khary Payton say it, and it’s all cool. He had a lot of fun in this episode, which is always cool to see.
Jadis and her betrayal was a good twist. Rick had trusted the Heapsters so quickly and so completely. But had he kind of been thrown off by the fact that they tested him, they made him prove himself? Psychologically, did they kind of beat him to the punch of being suspicious?
Well, I think also… Rick wanted them out of desperation. He needed numbers. But also, Jadis is very upfront about being a businessperson. Like, it’s all about deals. It’s all about getting the best deals no matter what. And that’s all that happened. She said, “I made a better deal.” That’s the thing; the basis of the betrayal is just that she got a better deal. And I think that some of the scarier people are those people that are without allegiance to anyone but themselves, to anything but themselves. It’s not ideology. There’s nothing passionate about it. It’s a very dispassionate sort of, “Grow up, I got a better deal.” There’s like a logic to it, really, that basically foiled Rick’s alliance. Very Godfather-ian, I would say.
And her indecent proposal to Rick and Michonne… is that just kind of her playful personality? Was there some serious intent there? Or was it also a way for her to kind of scope out where Rick’s vulnerabilities might be?
I think she looks down upon them. They’re like pets. They’re like lesser beings. [She thinks] they aren’t as smart. They aren’t as in tune with the real world. Even the way that the Scavengers talk, they don’t give you anything. They don’t give you one extra word. One extra article. One extra preposition. It’s just as little as they can give you. It’s very purposeful. So yeah, I think, in saying [she wants to lay with Rick], she’s basically serious, though also sort of taking it to the next level. She knows how this might end, whereas Rick and Michonne don’t. But I think she is thinking of laying with him after whatever happens. She is attracted to him. But she thinks he’s dumb. She thinks they’re all dumb.
The idea that she thinks of them as pets gives her an even more otherworldly quality, that she would view fellow humans that way.
Yeah. Though it gets weird that she thinks of them as pets when we’re talking about her laying with him, so it’s… I would say on par with the respect somebody might give, her respect level is that she would give to a pet. Or just a lot of dumb people. They haven’t found the answer, in her opinion.
Obviously no one is happy that Rick’s group was betrayed, but the Heapsters, the Scavengers, live another day, so we certainly could see them again.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, they take, they don’t bother. The Saviors retreated as well, so one might think they’re still on good terms with each other.
Even though Negan didn’t offer the most flattering description of them.
Yeah, well, yeah. He does look down on a lot of folks. “Garbage people…” he’s not subtle.
Another big surprise, a happier one, was seeing Abraham back in the mix. We had gotten the chance to see a lot of great moments with Maggie and Glenn, but not so much with Abraham and Sasha. This felt like closure, and also nice to get some genuinely romantic moments for them along with the backstory of what got her to the place where she could make that ultimate sacrifice for her friends.
And Sasha in a lot of ways in Season 6 sort of checked Abraham in certain ways. This was a time where Abraham kind of checked Sasha. And we see how equal this couple is. Which in my mind made it even more romantic. Just how they landed at this very equal place seemed very, very romantic.
Was that always the plan, that we would get that sort of backstory on them in a way?
It’s definitely like a prequel to [the Season 6 finale], where they started at in that episode. It was the last moment they had together before their journey that ended with them, you know, on their knees in front of the Saviors.
As you touched on earlier, Abraham’s appearance and a deeper look than we had gotten at that relationship was also a big part of the overall look back in this episode at the relationships that have been so key at getting Rick’s group to where they are and the family they’ve become.
Yeah. This show is about how people affect one another and how they become an actual part of one another. Forever. That when you become a part of a person’s life and you affect them, you essentially live within them after you’re gone. And for these people… they were strangers to one another. Now, they are forever bound by this experience, and I find that to be a very beautiful idea. And that can work with anybody in the world. In the right, or I suppose, very wrong, situation, anybody can become family. I just think that’s a very powerful idea.
The betrayal by the Heapsters was a shock, but in the end, at least the Alexandrians and the Hilltoppers and the Kingdom residents know they can work together well. They make a strong army, they ran Negan out of the town, and without the Heapsters’ help and without those weapons the Heapsters now have.
Well, if Sasha hadn’t done what she did, they would’ve been pretty rogered. It’s what Sasha did that was the turning point there, and it’s so incredible that she did it. That sacrifice was necessary. It’s the thing that saved her friends. That said, with that push, they were able to run [the Saviors] out. Now, that wasn’t all the Saviors… that was just a handful. The fact that Negan had Sasha and was gonna use her for leverage… he was pretty sure everything would be cool. But he had this little ace up his sleeve with the Scavengers if it wasn’t. With the entirety of the Saviors, it’s a scary proposition, but [Rick and the others are] ready for the fight. They know they have no choice, and that Rick will suffer whatever loss he has to to ensure that the world is set right for the future for all of these people. Sasha saved them; now they gotta save themselves. But the momentum that they’re on from that is very good.
Will we pick up around that same place, with that same momentum going, for the Season 8 premiere, the 100th episode?
Absolutely in the neighborhood of it. There might be a little bit of a time jump, but not enough for anybody to be particularly shocked or astounded. There will be no temporal surprises.
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres in October on AMC.
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