- Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
- Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “The Walking Dead” season nine.
- Season nine’s penultimate episode of “TWD” killed off 10 characters in a huge moment from the comics that you may have expected to see on the finale.
- Showrunner Angela Kang tells INSIDER when they started working on the season, the original expectation was to have the pikes on the finale.
- Ultimately, Kang said she felt like they “would be treading water for an episode” if they didn’t pack a punch and do the deaths on season nine, episode 15.
AMC’s “The Walking Dead” may have surprised viewers when the penultimate episode of season nine killed off 10 characters at once.
Whisperer leader Alpha (played by Samantha Morton) infiltrated King Ezekiel’s fair to pluck a mix of recurring and longtime characters. By the episode’s end, their heads were on pikes along with the Highwaymen and longtime Savior DJ. It’s an iconic moment from Robert Kirkman’s comics of the same name. If you were expecting the pikes to come during the season finale, that was originally the plan.
“When we started working on the season, the original expectation was, ‘Yeah, that’s going to happen in the finale.’ But, as we got into it, it really felt like I wanted to keep the pace of the story moving,” showrunner Angela Kang told INSIDER.
- Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
“It just felt like we would be treading water for an episode if we waited until the finale,” added Kang, of why they moved the pike deaths up an episode. “We would’ve came out with something cool to put in there, but I was like, ‘It just feels like we’re ready like an episode early.'”
In the past, finales and mid-season finales are usually reserved for big deaths on the zombie drama. The season six finale introduced us to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who memorably killed Glenn (and Abraham with a baseball bat. Most recently, Jesus (Tom Payne) was shockingly killed off on the season nine mid-season finale.
- Gene Page/AMC
Here, it sounds like Kang wanted to avoid having a filler episode where perhaps not much may have occurred in order to prevent dragging out what many expected to see coming. By pushing up the big death scene, it flipped fan expectations a bit in a season where Kang has continually thrown off viewers since killing off Gregory (Xander Berkeley) on the season nine premiere instead of waiting a few episodes.
“I think playing with the rhythms of the show a little bit is always good. It contributes to the sense of surprise,” said Kang. “It also gave us the opportunity to do something really different. I was really excited about the idea of doing snow. I knew it would be kinda an ambitious thing, but it gave us a chance to do sort of an unexpected type of final episode.”
- Gene Page/AMC
Kang said in many ways episode 15 of the season, “The Calm Before,” is more like a traditional finale, but it all came organically out of pacing for the story. Moving up the pike deaths also allowed them to send a message that the Whisperers aren’t your typical antagonist.
“The Governor and Negan were behind walls, you knew where their community was. There was no chance of getting away from them in some way. They just were where they were,” said Kang of two of the show’s previous villains. “It’s going to be an interesting and unusual way in which our people will have interactions with Whisperers, because they are a nomadic group. So, that kind of puts them in a different category of an antagonist or a hero.”
Were you surprised the pike deaths didn’t come during the season finale? You can follow along with our “Walking Dead” coverage here and continue the conversation with me on Twitter @KirstenAcuna.
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