'Walking Dead' Dissection: Robert Kirkman Talks Hershel's Fate and Future

The Walking Dead Scott Wilson - P 2012

The Walking Dead Scott Wilson - P 2012

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday's "Sick" episode of AMC's The Walking Dead.]

After Rick brutally chopped off his leg in an attempt to spare Hershel from turning into a walker, the fate of the elder Greene was revealed in the second episode of The Walking Dead's third season.

While Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Beth (Emily Kinney) both had different responses to their father's potential fate -- the elder Greene sister told her unconscious dad that it was OK to let go -- Hershel (Scott Wilson) not only woke up but did so without turning into a zombie as the group was prepared to see. The move -- at least for now -- proves that the amputation may have done the trick to stop the transition from living to walker after a zombie bite.

Elsewhere, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) continues to hold Shane's death over Lori's (Sarah Wayne Callies) head after she tells him to do what's best for the group when dealing with the five prisoners who've been waiting more than 300 days behind bars for a rescue from the apocalypse.

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The Hollywood Reporter caught up with executive producer Robert Kirkman, who created the comics on which the AMC drama is based, to break down what Hershel's survival means for the group and why, after two episodes, the long-awaited Governor (David Morrissey) has yet to make an appearance.

The Hollywood Reporter: Lori tells Rick she has no malice after he kills Shane. How long will Rick continue to use Shane over her head?
Robert Kirkman: That's something that's going to be hard for him to get over. It's not just something that he can sweep under the rug. Rick learning to deal with that is a key aspect of this season. Learning to forgive is something that's very difficult for him in the face of all of these other lessons that he's learned and all these other changes to his own personality that he's experienced. It's odd that there's that one little thing hanging over his head. Learning how he deals with that and what he does moving forward is going to be a pretty interesting plot point.  

Someone's watching Carol (Melissa McBride) at the end of the episode. Is that safe to assume that it's the Governor or someone from his camp? What are they looking for?
There's definitely someone watching. Who that ends up being remains to be seen.

We've yet to see David Morrissey in the first two episodes. What was behind the decision to wait to bring him in?
People know that he's coming and that's something that's going to cause quite a bit of tension as viewers watch the episodes: When is he appearing, when is this going to happen? We've had a lot of fun teasing that and delaying that reveal but I will say we're not going to be torturing people for too long. The Governor steps onto the stage pretty quickly this season. I think it'll happen sooner than you think.

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Hershel wakes up -- and doesn't turn into a walker. Is it safe to say that his amputation prevented that? 
Things are looking pretty good for Hershel. He's definitely a pretty smart guy who's on top of things and will be paying attention to himself and being responsible. I'm pretty optimistic but to be honest, you just have to keep watching! (Laughs.)

In the comics, a bite -- even with an amputation to prevent it -- typically leads to a transition to a walker. Are you guys going the other way or could this potentially be a slow-moving transition? 
It makes Hershel more of a burden on Rick. How that will play out remains to be seen. But it dramatically alters this character and puts him in a different light and to a certain extent, will change the stories we're telling with him. This is something that we'll be dealing with a lot moving forward. It will play into how things happen at the prison and what we do with him.

How will Hershel's disability test Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie?
It's definitely something that is going to inform their relationship to a certain extent. Glenn and Maggie are the main sense of hope. That these two people finding each other and falling in love cuts through the darkness. Now that Hershel is this burden on the overall group, it'll be an element of tension possibly in their relationship and could shake things up a little bit moving forward.

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What does Hershel's amputation mean for his daughters, Maggie and Beth?
It will make the prison that much more important because they are somewhat less mobile due to Hershel's affliction and to a certain extent, that will make him somewhat weaker and less effective. It'll do some interesting things with his relationship with Glenn that we'll see moving forward. Even though it's something seemingly small in the grand scheme of things, his leg amputation will have ramifications throughout the entire cast that will lead to some different things you might not be expecting.

Carl (Chandler Riggs) goes off on his own, kills two walkers and comes back with some much-needed medical supplies yet still gets the third degree from Lori. It's a big moment for Carl that she takes away from him. How will that affect him?
The fact that he does this extremely important thing that's done and handled and isn't this big event we spend a lot of time on just shows how easily he's stepped into this child soldier role and how capable he is. We'll see a lot more of that evolution this season.

It's a nice way of getting back at the "Where's Carl?!" meme that popped up in the offseason.
Exactly! (Laughs.)

What did you think of "Sick"? Do you think Hershel could eventually turn? Who do you think is watching Carol? Hit the comments with your thoughts. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit