With the Walking Dead TV series taking a radical departure from the original comic series following events surrounding the fate of Rick Grimes, fans have wondered just how the show would now end. Few are in the know on what’s likely to be one of the best-kept secrets in television over the next year, yet one of them is the showrunner, Angela Kang.
Speaking in an extensive interview with Insider, Kang stated she believes she knows where the show will be going, having pitched out the finale to AMC and everyone being “on board.”
“We pitched it all out to AMC, and everybody’s on board. As we get into individual episodes, we’re still kind of refining and mapping as we change things we’ve planned a little bit. But the roadmap is firmly in place at this point”
The death of Carl Grimes during season 8 and the subsequent disappearance of his father Rick during season 9’s “What Comes After” ensured that the Walking Dead finale would be far from that presented in the parent comic. In the Image Comics series, Rick is killed before we flash forward to show Carl and Sophia living out their lives and revealing that characters such as Negan, Michonne, and Eugene have also survived.
The disconnect between the show and the comic must have created a headache for Kang, with the possibility on the table that storylines will be given to other characters or scrapped entirely. One such example is Michonne’s storyline where she discovered her lost child is still alive, and actress Danai Gurira departing the show in 2020.
“Obviously, we don’t have the same array of characters, so I think some of our thoughts, in terms of specifics, have changed over time, but I think in terms of telling one story that sort of thematically points in a kind of a direction, I think we’ve had that in mind for a while.”
With the departures of prominent cast members and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kang’s time on the show has undoubtedly faced many struggles, but she has delivered two quality seasons. The show’s acclaim has risen again following the increasingly hostile reaction toward the end of Scott M. Gimple’s run at the helm, and most fans are seemingly in agreement that Kang’s work on the show has been a success.
However, in light of other major divisive series finales such as Lost, Dexter, and Game of Thrones, Kang now faces possibly her most significant challenge in concluding the franchise satisfactorily. The task of delivering a suitable ending to The Walking Dead while remaining faithful to the vision of the comic books and doing it without many vital players seems unenviable, yet it’s a challenge she’s ready for.
“We really hope that we tell a story that entertains people along the way, that helps them feel things,” says the showrunner, adding that, “at a certain point, that part is out of your control. We can just control what we can control.”
Ending the show
The choice to end The Walking Dead came as a shock to both Kang and the rest of the cast and crew, with Melissa McBride (Carol Peletier) telling Insider earlier this month that she “had a blackout” when she heard the show was coming to a close. Normal Reedus (Daryl Dixon) was similarly stunned, asking, “What are you talking about?” when confronted by the news.
“I was more thinking like, ‘How does it end? Do we all die in slow motion? Do we find a cure? Do they just nuke us from space? Like what happens?'”
For Kang, receiving the news that The Walking Dead was ending was “really bittersweet.”
“This has been such a big part of my life and the lives of everybody that’s been working on the show for many years. Our hearts are so in this show and in the family of cast and crew and even executives and everybody that [has] been been along this journey. For the writers, for my team, they basically found out kind of the same time as others.”
After significant delays, thanks to the pandemic, Kang estimates filming on The Walking Dead season 11 is almost halfway complete, with the show’s run having been expanded to 24 episodes. With the production team said to be “readjusting” to the situation regarding filming and the show’s end, Kang says they will still aim to “tell a fantastic story that brings the series to a close in a way that hopefully feels satisfying and true to this series.”
The final season of The Walking Dead will air in three parts beginning on Sunday, August 22. AMC+ subscribers will be able to stream the two-part season premiere early, starting this Sunday, August 15.