‘The Walking Dead’ series finale burning questions answered

‘The Walking Dead’ series finale burning questions answered

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SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the series finale of The Walking Dead.

But we have so many more questions! We have so many more questions! Smaller questions such as: Where is Annie? Random questions such as: How did Living Colour or Fleetwood Mac get into the episode to film key scenes? We reached out to Angela Kang, showrunner, and Greg Nicotero, finale director, for answers. They shared the following information, which includes many changes to how things are originally going to be.

The Walking Dead series finale

Christian Serratos on ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale

| Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Christian Serratos asked for Rosita to die in the finale.

ANGELA KANG: Christian Serratos volunteered for Rosita to die. As I was talking to the actors about the final episode, she said that she felt it was the right thing for her character and that it would be a good finale. She suggested that her character die in saving Coco and trying to ensure that the next generation has a chance in life. She told me to think about it.

GREG NICOTERO: Christian came to me about six to eight months before we did that episode and said, “I want something really great for Rosita.” She said, “I want that character out strong.” She said, “I think that I might want death, but if it happens, I want to do heroic things.” I want to save the children. She came up with the idea initially, and I thought it was a great idea for her character.

KANG: We felt that there were some aspects of it that felt like we could pull from the Andrea idea in the comic — just the idea that there was a really important member of the cast doesn’t make it, but that there is a chance for there to be a bit of a goodbye that felt like it was honoring the emotional intent of the comic as well as kind of fulfilling something that Christian said that she felt was important for her journey. We try to keep those things in mind.

The Walking Dead series finale

Christian Serratos and Seth Gilliam on ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale

| Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

NICOTERO: As we got closer to it and then once the outline and then the script came out, she and I worked really, really hard to make sure that we captured the moments that we felt were critical to Rosita’s storyline getting wrapped up.

She was 100 percent committed. This was a different scenario than in previous episodes, as her death had a very significant meaning at the end. There have been characters who were not ready to leave the show. Rosita felt that this was a different story. She felt that it put her in a better position story-wise and emotionally than if she had just been part of everyone saying goodbye. She deserves a lot of credit for this. She had great instincts in that area. Jules and Luke totally took the team down by dying.

KANG: We didn’t know right away that we were going to have them die. As we were writing the story, we felt that a sad death was a good thing. Daryl is looking at this death and thinking, “This could happen Judith if not careful.” It can also make it harder for Luke’s friends to help him and their resolve to get out of this mess. We love Dan Fogler. Alex, who plays Jules, is a great friend. They’re great. They die in the episode’s first episode, but they do so with such grace. We were grateful that they returned and made sacrifices for the rest of our cast.

The Walking Dead series finale

Alex Sgambati on ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale

| Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Ezekiel may be the new governor of the Commonwealth, but it was almost Mercer. It was almost Carol. It was almost Maggie.

KANG: It changed a lot through the season. We discussed the possibility that Mercer could be that person. We discussed whether Carol or Maggie will become that person. We settled on Ezekiel after it felt like Ezekiel was inherently a leader and has been through so much. He is a very community-focused leader.

The Kingdom was the most joyful community. They were strong and were great at working with other communities. Ezekiel felt like he was on a journey and wanted to stop, but it felt like he is someone who will always try to help others. That felt like the right kind leader to lead us forward.

I like the fact that Ezekiel & Mercer, who were so at odds when they started, ended up kind of working together. I thought maybe Mercer could use one civilian step to become a full leader. You see what I mean? Because he was a military man, I believe he had to be pushed to run for lieutenant governor. He seems to be like, “I don’t believe that’s my path, man.” I’m a soldier. He needed to learn the ropes as a civilian leader in order to do more.

The Walking Dead series finale

Michael James Shaw and Khary Payton on ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale

| Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Carol was originally going to ride off with Daryl at the end.

KANG: The change with Melissa not going into the spin-off happened pretty late in the game. So we’d always planned that the two of them were going to ride off together. In the original version they would have ridden on the bike and turned west, and then would have become sidetracked.

And then, when we were running the finale we were like, “Okay. Let’s reconceive what they end.” So he rides off and she is there to support him. There’s no anger between them. It’s just that he’s going on a mission and she has a new mission. My co-writers, and I, had a different version on the bench of the Daryl-Carol scene. It was lighter in some places but still got to the same sort of, “I Love Yous” and other things. Norman and Melissa wanted it to be simple and emotionally charged. So I rewrote it. They did an amazing job, so that’s how it all happened. It’s all part a collaboration and we work together.

The Walking Dead series finale

Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus on ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale

| Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

The zombie that Daryl almost runs over with his bike at the very end is none other than Greg Nicotero, making his “14ish” appearance as a walker.

NICOTERO: That was something that was very important to me because in season 1 in the third episode, I was the first walker that Daryl killed on the series. So in the first scene, Daryl and a zombie were together. I was the zombie. So I thought, “Okay. So the last shot, Daryl’s scene on The Walking Dead , should be me.” It was my intention to bookend it.

So at lunch, I ran to get the makeup trailer. Gino Crognale, my buddy of 40 years, jumped in the chair, and we did the makeup in about 40 minutes. [See photos below.] The rest of the day I did zombie makeup.

The Walking Dead series finale

Greg Nicotero on ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale

| Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

The Walking Dead

Zombie Greg Nicotero with Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus on set of ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale

| Credit: Courtesy of Greg Nicotero

The Walking Dead

Greg Nicotero on set of ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale

| Credit: Courtesy of Greg Nicotero

Negan finally learned to shut his mouth and walk away.

KANG: After that nod to Daryl, he’s just focused on the present. He knows that he has to go home and visit his wife. I’m going see Annie and I’m going leave these people to do what they have to do. He said that Maggie was showing grace to him and his wife even though it hurts her to no end that she sees me. Negan has learned to be kind to Maggie by realizing that walking into the house where they are all eating together is not a good idea.

The way Negan has grown is by giving Maggie space. It’s not selfish. He’s not complaining about it. He says, “The right thing for us to do right now is walk away and give her all the space she needs.” I believe that’s what really drove him to go off. It’s obvious that there’s an alternate version. He’s in there with them and it’s all one happy, happy family. This didn’t feel like the season they had been through.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan on ‘The Walking Dead’

Jeffrey Dean Morgan on ‘The Walking Dead’

| Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Here’s why Negan’s wife, Annie, wasn’t in the finale.

KANG: Annie was back at Alexandria. This was so difficult because we had a version where we saw her, but the script was too large and we couldn’t film it all. There were also scheduling issues that had to be considered. There were also things that changed due to COVID illnesses or Norman’s accident which caused the filming to shift. There were scenes that had to be cut. We were going to see Annie once again. We didn’t get to see her.

Sometimes it’s just the circumstances and we can’t change it. But we were always going to leave Annie alive because there were a couple of different versions of spin-offs for Negan in play. She was a character that was going to be continued or not. She was going to be in danger, but we wanted her to live.

Medina Senghore on The Walking Dead

Medina Senghore on ‘The Walking Dead’

| Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

The zombie smashing a hospital window with a rock was not just a callback to a walker who used one to smash a department store window back in season 1, but was also a callback to Night of the Living Dead.

NICOTERO: Absolutely. This is where the variant scenario was born. I keep reminding everyone that they weren’t smarter zombies back in those days, Frank Darabont and me hadn’t really figured the rules out yet.

In the first season of Walking Dead, we used Night of the Living Dead as our bible. In the opening of Night of the Living Dead , Bill Hinzman, the shaman, grabs a rock and begins smashing the car’s windows. We were still trying to figure out the rules when we did episode 2.

The Walking Dead season 1, episode 2

Season 1 zombies on ‘The Walking Dead’

| Credit: AMC

Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” was a last-minute add for the Estate Section fire explosion scene.

KANG: “Cult of Personality” was a last-minute drop-in because the original temp track was a hard rock type of song, but I felt that it didn’t work for parts of the sequence. It sounded a bit too similar and drowned out certain parts. The music supervisor sent us a bunch of songs. We listened to them all. It was the New Radicals song for a while. It worked, despite its quirkiness.

We almost chose a very expensive and well-known piece, but couldn’t afford it. But “Cult of Personality” is really, really cool. It works for Pamela, her cult personality. Sebastian Milton was originally to live to the finale… and then pass away.

KANG: Sebastian was originally going to make it all the way into episode 24. There would have been more shenanigans, f—ed up things. Pamela would have sent him into battle to lead, but it leads directly to his death. She would have deliberately put him in a position where he wouldn’t make it.

This was a rough draft that we had worked very hard on, but we decided to pull it up because we felt that there needed to be a major turn in this part of the story. It brought out so many interesting things in Hornsby’s and Pamela’s lives. AMC was also like, “What do your thoughts about Sebastian being killed earlier?” We’re like “Maybe.” So we started to work on the story. This stuff happens every season. I think Scott may have been like, “But… what if Sebastian died here?” There’s always a time when a character is slated to die, like Sebastian. It’s like “Do we do that here, here, or there?” And what happens after that? We felt there was more to do it where it was, than saving it for the end.

The Walking Dead

Teo Rapp-Olsson as Sebastian Milton on ‘The Walking Dead’

| Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

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