(WARNING: Spoilers ahead for 'The Walking Dead' TV series and comics.)
Season 6 of The Walking Dead has undoubtedly been the best one we've had so far and, according to showrunner Scott M. Gimple, we're in for a treat before the season ends.
Every since Jeffrey Dean Morgan was cast as Negan, and set to appear in Season 6, the comic book fans have been dying with anticipation. After all, Negan is responsible for one of the most memorable moments in the whole comic series (if you want to know more about it, you can read this) and the fact we'll get to see all of that play out on screen is just too much of a dream come true.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gimple did a pretty great job of confusing the heck out of us while keeping us on our toes for the finale. When speaking of the Negan character, Gimple seems to share our opinion that he is one of the best villains we've ever seen, and that's pretty much why liking him is a guilty pleasure many of the comic book fans have in common:
"I think Negan is the villain that you hate to love. But you just love him."
Yup. He's got that right.
It seems cheap, considering The Walking Dead's 153-issue story, for us to have a good or bad view of anybody. Robert Kirkman has layered almost every single one of the characters with so much emotional depth that we fans know darn well nobody is simply either an angel or a devil. Take Episode 12, "Not Tomorrow Yet," for example. It got the fandom deeply considering the morality of Rick and the group's actions, some even going so far as calling Rick the new Governor, or saying that our Survivors are now the Wolves. Gimple says:
"Through another lens, [Negan] is not a bad guy at all in the comic. He does some horrible things, but our people do some horrible things."
There's been a huge amount of speculation as to who would be on the receiving end of Lucille's TV introduction and although Gimple, of course, kept the character's name to himself, he did throw us a bone:
"Sometimes things happen to completely different characters."
What? Does that mean...
Hold your horses, folks! He didn't actually say it won't be our beloved Glenn, but he covered all his bases by letting us remember some events that were remixed from the comics for the screen. Just last Sunday we were somewhat baffled to see Denise take Abraham's death from the comics. Yes, things change sometimes. And others, they don't.
It seems the key to deciding which moments stay true to the comics and which ones get a remix is the emotional value they had in Kirkman's comic series and how to best translate that emotion to TV. Gimple explains:
"It’s all just like taking that moment from the book and figuring out a way to turn it up to get those feelings that it gave you and those emotions that it gave you that much more."
Although they might upset some fans at first, those remixes have played out quite well in the long run, and the producers are all about the long run. Keep in mind they're already talking Season 7, Season 8 and maybe more, so figuring out how someone's death might possibly impact the story in the near future is, of course, more important than keeping our favorites alive. Take Hershel, for example. After Dale's death, Hershel lost his leg because that plot was seemingly a good one for the show. So even without the original comic character, we got to see the story.
That's what Negan will bring to the show with his appearance in the finale. Not only will we have a completely new set of characters around, but he'll also show us the new world and its rules. If we've been questioning morality recently, Negan will take that far and beyond, making us struggle to validate some of the Survivors' decisions and, most importantly, how we deal with those decisions from a viewer POV. To put it simply, according to Gimple, Negan will take The Walking Dead to a whole other level:
"Negan is the ultimate version of that bully. And he is an incredible strategist. He can often appear capricious. He is pure id."
Someone certain to keep us on the edge of our seats.
And before we all despair and break off to add praying and hoping to all our speculation, let's try to remember that what the showrunners, like Gimple, really aim for is offering us the best of Kirkman's The Walking Dead universe:
"It might be wildly different, but it’s all to get the same sort of feelings that you got when you read them. So will it be different? Absolutely. Will it be the same thing? Absolutely."
Check out the rest of the interview here.