- A breed of smarter zombies will be introduced on the final episodes of “The Walking Dead.”
- Showrunner Angela Kang told press at SDCC they’re a throwback to some walkers on season one.
- Though clever, it’s something that should’ve been introduced seasons ago and feels like it’s added to simply serve future spinoffs.
When “The Walking Dead” returns to TV for its final run of eight episodes this fall, it will finally address one of the show’s biggest zombie plot holes from season one.
What was up with those smarter walkers who could pick up rocks, smash them through doors, and attempt to climb ladders on the show’s first season that were never referenced again?
During the show’s San Diego Comic-Con press conference, which Insider attended, showrunner Angela Kang and the cast was asked about a newer breed of the undead teased at the end of the show’s newest trailer. Kang said their addition wasn’t random, saying they’ll have ties to the show’s very beginning.
“I think with the walkers, in some ways it’s a throwback to some walkers we saw back in the very, very first season of ‘The Walking Dead,’ but not everybody ever encountered those walkers,” Kang told press. “It’s almost like it was a variant that just was regional.”
It’s expected that the show’s final eight episodes will introduce a faster breed of the undead. In the show’s latest trailer, which debuted at San Diego Comic-Con, Aaron (Ross Marquand) said that he had heard stories of walkers that could climb walls and open doors. We then see a tease of a walker making their way over a fence.
‘TWD’ universe hinted at a different breed of walkers in December 2021 on a spin-off show
Their addition isn’t completely shocking.
The “Walking Dead” universe recently introduced the idea of a variant breed of faster walkers. During a five-minute coda scene following the series finale of spin-off “The Walking Dead: World Beyond” last December, “TWD” season one’s Centers for Disease Control virologist Dr. Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich) mentioned a “variant cohort” that he hasn’t seen, yet, in the United States.
Viewers then see a woman, who was shot and killed, reanimate more quickly than what we’re used to seeing. (Typically, it takes a person a few hours or longer to turn into a zombie). The zombified woman appeared faster and more aggressive than the walkers fans have grown accustomed to in the universe.
Most concerning was that the woman reanimated despite being shot in the head. Usually, in “TWD” universe, when someone’s shot in the head, they die and don’t become zombified. Unless, the bullet conveniently missed the woman’s brain, “TWD: World Beyond” coda suggested there’s a type of the undead who are much tougher to kill or who simply don’t die.
At the time, “TWD” universe chief Scott M. Gimple told Insider the walker which is not super-powered, but different, “Gimple said.” I hope that people’s imaginations are ‘activated on’ to what that could mean and what we could see. “
These smarter walkers should’ve been introduced years ago instead of as a footnote on the show’s final episodes.
During the press conference, Kang added that the walkers teased in the new trailer will put Daryl and the rest of the survivors on their guard.
“Anytime there’s a change to the rules that means that our people just need to be that much more on their game because they’re realizing that the methods that they use to survive don’t quite work the same way,” Kang told press. “Our survivors, being very, very smart, they’re gonna try to adjust to that. But that’ll just be one of, many of the conflicts that they’re dealing with.”
It’s not like the group really needs another new threat to be introduced in its final eight episodes. The show also has to wrap up its massive Commonwealth story line from the comics.
The smarter zombie subplot is original to the AMC series.
On the one hand, it’s a smart fix for those who regularly rewatch the series or revisit the first season and point out the point out the noticeable difference in the walkers former showrunner Frank Darabont introduced to the series and the more docile ones fans became familiar with in later seasons.
Kang has found other clever ways since taking over “TWD” as showrunner on season nine to streamline moments from past seasons with the present. Most recently, the series made a smart political connection between the leader of the Commonwealth, Pamela Milton, and a former leader of Alexandria, something the comics never did.
However, the introduction of smarter walkers in the very tail end of “The Walking Dead,” when the season had an extended 24 episodes, may have some viewers wondering why this threat is just being introduced so late in the game.
While a clever way to finally address some rock-smashing walkers on season one, smarter zombies are something the show should’ve considered doing years ago to shake things up, make the series fresh, and keep the threat of the undead feeling like just that , a threat.
Instead, as we enter the show’s very final eight episodes starting on October 2, the addition of smarter walkers feels like it’s less about delivering a throwback and paying tribute to where the show began and more about setting things up for the series’ many forthcoming spin -off shows, including ones based around Daryl, Negan and Maggie, and Rick and Michonne.
When Insider asked at the press conference if the show will have definitive closure or if it will be more open-ended as we head into the series’ many spinoffs, Kang told us, “the goal is that even if there were no spinoffs, it would feel like there’s a closure to the show. “
“The show itself needs its own ending, but, doors are left open as they so often are in life and as they were even in the ending of the comic,” Kang added. “There’s always a story that’s continuing once the story that you tell on screen has ended.”
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