Ugh. I think I’m still a little shell-shocked from The Walking Dead episode 414, “The Grove.” Those of us that read the comics had suspected that Lizzie and Mika’s story was going to parallel what happened with the twins from the comics, but I didn’t expect it to have so much impact in live-action.
Anyway, the guy to blame for your tears is The Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple. Entertainment Weekly sat down with Scott and asked him just what went through his mind as he planned one of the most gut-wrenching episodes in TV history.
“I had originally talked to [creator] Robert [Kirkman] about it because in the comic it’s more Carl’s story and I remember pitching it to him because I wanted to know what he thought. It was important to me. And what was funny is I started going, “I’m thinking about taking this thing away from Carl, this super-important part of the comic,” and initially he was like, “Oh, I don’t know.” And then I pitched him the story and he was like, “That’s awesome!” Which was exciting because I was really nervous, because you want to honor the source material and I wanted him to be excited about it and he was. Beyond that, I wasn’t really that worried about AMC. I know they have faith in us. This was not a story that was sensational. We weren’t exploiting anything. It was something that was very much a part of Carol’s story and very much these girls’ story and very much a story of this world, and I felt that from the jump we had a very sensitive approach to it. No matter how extreme the end was, we weren’t just doing it for shock. And AMC felt the same way. Even between all this we tried to do it as sensitively as possible. There were a lot of conversations about that,” Gimple said.
A lot of the conversations about sensitivity boiled down to just what to show and how.
“(Mika’s death is) something where the audience’s imagination will be far more horrible that anything we could have done. As far as the gunshot, we did wrestle with the cut of that. We played around with it in a variety of iterations. Initially it was about what we felt was tasteful to show and what we felt was not tasteful to show and figuring that out. I’d say the discovery along the way was the shot where we don’t see it, but we see Carol pull the trigger and we stay on Carol,” Gimple said.
Gimple also said that having Tyreese forgive Carol for the deaths of Karen and David added a note of hope and grace to balance the otherwise dark episode.
“And Tyreese is a character, being such a humanistic character, that’s the way I believe he would go. I’m not excited about things that are just relentlessly dark — that are just one thing. I get excited about stories that really do show every part of the human experience, and even in that horrible, horrible, horrible situation, there was some good that came out of it. There was grace. I was so thrilled to see how it came out,” Gimple said.
Lots more in the full interview.