The Walking Dead interview: Scott M. Gimple on Season 5
Q: You wrote the Season 5 Premiere. What aspect about it are you most excited for fans to see?
A: We ended on a cliffhanger, and I’m just excited to deliver the answers to the questions they’ve been waiting all summer for!
Q: Are you approaching this season any differently than the previous ones? What have been some of the challenges?
A: Every episode, the show reinvents itself. We’ve always approached it like we’ve got a brand new paradigm in 8 episodes. The pleasure of the show is taking all of these different characters’ stories and interweaving them so that they affect one another. That can be a challenge. As far as production challenges go, it’s a very ambitious season in terms of scope. We’ve been battling all of the elements — and not just Georgia weather. It’s totally self-inflicted, but everyone has been up to it.
Q: How do you decide who will survive and who won’t this season?
A: It’s never an easy decision, but it’s always in service to the story. When characters do die, the story led to that point. Sometimes it can seem shocking and totally random, but it all has to add up. It’s an aspect of the show and a reality of the world.
Q: If you could write yourself into the show, what kind of role would you play?
A: [Laughs] Somebody that has an incredibly air-conditioned bunker, but it would wind up becoming a super boring show and turn into a Real World-style reality show. It’s a good thing I’m not a character on the show.
Q: Who would you want on your team?
A: I get a whole team? I don’t want to play favorites, but Daryl for long reach combat, Michonne for close range, Rick for mid-range, Tara to crack some jokes… but this would keep going until I named all the characters. I can’t think of anybody who’s a particularly good cook. I would think Michonne is really good at cutting which would probably lend itself to sushi. As far as foods of the apocalypse, sushi is probably one of the more readily available things.
Q: You wrote the Season 4 Finale, “A.” What was your favorite moment from that episode?
A: There were a lot of favorite moments in that. and seeing Scott Wilson back was wonderful. One that sticks out is Daryl outside the car on the morning after Rick attacked the claimers. I really liked the way that felt and I thought they were great in that scene. What Andrew [Lincoln] did at the very end, I loved, too.
Q: How would you compare Season 4 to Season 5? How are they going to be different?
A: The second half of Season 4, especially, had a lot to do with these characters being separated in the most extreme circumstances. The beginning of Season 5, they’re obviously not that separated. There are a couple of characters that are still [away] from the rest, like Carol, Tyreese and Judith. Everyone else is pretty much together and that’s a stark difference. I would say from more of a thematic place, things are going to get extremely brutal and life is going to get that much more difficult for these characters, but they are together, so they have more support. They have each other to lean on and they’re going to need to lean on each other quite a bit.
Q: You’ve mentioned a new romance evolving in Season 5. Is there any character in particular you’re hoping will find love?
A: Love or romance is going to be an element this season. It’s not going to be an element in a huge part of the season, but as we get towards a specific part of the season, it’s going to become more of a reality and a complication. Human nature, all the good and bad parts, are things that both complement and compromise survival. Love is part of that.
Q: Can you walk us through a typical day in The Walking Dead writers’ room?
A: The writers’ room is really, really hardcore in the first third of the season; we’re really in there. Every writer on the show is a writer-producer, so once they write their script, they’re out in Georgia helping to produce it. There are a lot more components than just being in the room. It’s interesting being a writer on this show. There are a lot of different locales in which you do your job especially as you get towards the middle of the season. There isn’t a typical day.
Q: Have you learned any lessons from the show about survival?
A: I learned how to track, how to set up a camp, certain things about food, how to start a fire — and I almost started a fire in my kitchen. It’s funny because we learn these things and we rarely have [the characters] say stuff out loud about specific survival techniques. You don’t want characters listing all the things they need to do while setting up a camp. Even with all this, if there was a zombie apocalypse, I’d be dead in five minutes.