7:01pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'The Walking Dead' Dissection: Robert Kirkman Says Shane Isn't a 'Dastardly Villain'
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday's midseason premiere "Triggerfinger."]
On Sunday's The Walking Dead, Rick, Hershel and Glenn survived an intense shootout with members from Dave and Tony's group. In addition, Rick continued to do the right thing and wound up taking Randall, who had been impaled in his attempt to flee, back to the farm in a bid to save his life. Elsewhere, Lori had dramatic confrontations with Shane and Rick that can only serve to increase the friction between the trio.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with executive producer Robert Kirkman, who created the comic book series on which the AMC drama is based, to discuss Sunday's "Triggerfinger" episode, whether or not Lori (and Rick) are aware of her similarities to Shane, why viewers should feel sorry for Shane and what Randall's arrival on the farm means for the group.
THR: Lori confronts Shane about Otis' death -- and about Rick apparent death in the hospital at the outbreak’s beginning. Is that something she really believes or is she lashing out?
Kirkman: She definitely has reason to suspect that this was all a ploy on his part to get Rick out of the picture, especially considering how quickly a romantic relationship seemed to develop for them. This is in large part about her guilt, and her guilt over that entire situation. She's going to be lashing out and in a sense blaming Shane for the decisions that she made because it will make her feel better. The audience knows that Shane wasn't lying. A lot of people paint Shane to be this dastardly villain but he's one of the most nuanced characters on the show. It's really a tragic story for him because he really is trying to do good every single time he does something that seems to be crazy and irrational. He is really just a scared individual trying to feel his way through this insane world. He's not handling it as well as Rick, who is a lot more centered and seemingly a lot more prepared. The fact that Rick can go from gunning those guys down in the bar at the end of the previous episode to being compassionate about the guy who is impaled on the spike shows that he really is more prepared for this world. I feel like you should be feeling sorry for Shane more than anything.
THR: Lori then lies to Shane about their relationship being "the one good thing" for her amid the outbreak. Is she aware how similar they are?
Kirkman: Very much so. Lori is definitely having problems with the fact that she has feelings for Shane. She definitely loves Rick and possibly has stronger feelings for him but this is a guy who very much part of their family before apocalypse and was pretty much all that was left. It's very difficult for her; you can kind of track just how indecisive she's being in all this. She's seemingly with Shane, against Shane, totally in Rick's corner, not really in Rick's corner. She's dealing with quite a bit of conflict here.
THR: Is Rick aware of their similarities?
Kirkman: Maybe (laughs).
THR: Lori plants a chilling idea in Rick’s head that Shane needs to be killed if he really wants to protect her and the baby. How will Rick respond to her implication?
Kirkman: She's terrified and clearly seeing this man unravel and perceiving him to be a major threat to the group. Knowing what we know about Rick, is Rick's reaction going to be that rash? That's really question in the next episode. Rick is the guy who handles this kind of thing. He's going to take that information and try and figure something out with it.
THR: Now that Shane knows Rick is aware of his relationship with Lori, what will their impending confrontation look like? Will it be a slow burn?
Kirkman: I don't think there's a lot of slow burn going on in this last half of the season. The direct confrontation that results from a lot of things that have been going on with Rick and Shane it may be happening next episode. I can't say for certain. It's going to be brutal.
THR: Once Randall arrives on the farm, how will the group come to an agreement over what to do with him and how to handle the threat that he represents?
Kirkman: We know that he is part of a larger group. We're peeling back this onion threat -- we've got the guys inside the bar, then there's the other layer of the guys who were out at the bar. Whether or not there's this additional layer of an even larger group that they were part of is really the question that's out there. Randall being back at the farm is really what they're going to be concerned with in the next episode: Who's out there, who might be looking for him and whether that's going to draw people to the farm causes quite a bit of conflict and could possibly ruin things for them.
THR: Hershel catches a glimpse of what Shane's been saying about Rick when he confesses to the shooting Dave and Tony. Could that eventually come back to hurt Rick in terms of his standing with Hershel?
Kirkman: Maybe a little bit. It was Rick's decision to bring Randall back to the farm and what the outcome of that ends up being is still unknown. It could end up being a source of conflict. With everything be as intense as it's been these last few episodes, I don't foresee Hershel having time to push them off the farm.
THR: Will Shane take Andrea’s suggestion that he employ a lighter touch?
Kirkman: Possibly. I don't think that's in his character though. Shane tries to claim that he's the best guy to lead and he tries to claim that he's the strongest one out there. Everything that he does, he's doing out of fear. When he's protecting other people, he's also protecting himself. While he does have altruistic motivations -- and I do think he is essentially a good guy -- when you put him against Rick you can really see the difference in the two men. Shane acts rationally and without thought because at his core, he's terrified. He isn't really as prepared for this world as he claims he is. Rick, on the other hand, can go from gunning those two guys down in the bar to deciding to help Randall after he's been impaled. The fact that he can actually stop and make decisions that may not benefit him but actually help others show he's a lot more centered and prepared for this world. Shane slowing down and trying to have a gentler touch, I don't really see that happening.
THR: Glenn is now beating himself over freezing because of Maggie’s declaration. How will Glenn push himself to move beyond that?
Kirkman: Seeing how hard this is on him to me is some of the most realistic stuff in the show. He's going to be shell-shocked after this ordeal and what it does to his relationship with Maggie and how it makes him feel about himself is really something we're going to be delving into in the next few episodes. Their relationship is one of the key aspects of hope in this show. The fact that they found each other against all odds and do seem to be falling in love with each other is a really great thing that makes this world seem livable and that's important. I'm definitely rooting for them but I'm not taking bets; it's a tough world out there.
THR: Is it possible that Beth's status is connected with something that Jenner whispered to Rick back at the CDC?
Kirkman: You might be reaching a little bit. As far as the Jenner thing goes, don't worry, people will stop asking that question very soon.
What did you think of "Triggerfinger"? Do think Rick will take Lori's suggestions about killing Shane? Sound off in the comments below. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit