It’s unclear exactly when former showrunner Frank Darabont‘s influence will cease to be a part of the hit AMC series The Walking Dead. Darabont “stepped down” back in July (it ultimately turned out that he was fired), which was met by a firestorm of negative criticism and rumors of extremely unhappy (and fearful) cast and crew members who were supposedly forbidden from speaking on the topic or face losing their jobs.
The first half of the second season was still pretty excellent, but at some point the Darabont effect will wear off and we as fans will be face-to-face with the answer to a looming question: will new showrunnerGlen Mazzara be able to deliver the same level of quality we’ve come to expect, or will it all come crashing down in true apocalyptic fashion?
That all remains to be seen, but details about one episode Darabont had planned on doing has now surfaced, and it sounds like it could have been intense. Unfortunately for us, it also appears to be one that we will never get to see. You can read all about the episode on the other side.
Be warned: it still sounds like there’s a chance that this episode could possibly still be made, so know that reading any further will result in spoilers (even though there’s nothing involved that would shock you if you’ve seen the show). In all likelihood it’s dead and I wouldn’t worry about it too much, but that doesn’t mean someone down the line couldn’t decide to make it anyway. It is an episode that wouldn’t need to be done at any specific time, so better to be safe if you’re extremely anti-spoiler.
Think back, if you will, to the pilot episode of the series when Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) has an encounter with a soldier Walker inside of a tank in the middle of Atlanta. It’s a brief moment, but it’s also memorable because it’s where Rick gets a grenade and where he first comes into contact with Glenn, who leads him back to his wife and son.
As it turns out, there was much more to that scene than first met the eye, and Darabont had an entire prequel episode planned that was dedicated to telling the story of the fall of Atlanta and how that zombie got there.
The actor who played the zombie in that scene is actually Sam Witwer, star of such shows as Battlestar Galactica, Dexter, Smallville, and Syfy’s Being Human, spoke to Paranormal Pop Culture recently and shared all the details for Darabon’t planned prequel episode.
[Darabont said to me], “Look, I think it would be really cool to tell a prequel story about how Atlanta fell. Do Black Hawk Down, but with zombies. And have a few main characters pass through, like a Twilight Zone episode [and] the lead will be you. And your character will go through and you’re a soldier and all these horrible things happen, the chain of command breaks down, and eventually you have to take out your superior officer to save a bunch of people. Then, eventually in the end, you get bit.”
And [Darabont is] pitching me this, “You’re crawling and you crawl into this tank and you have this grenade and you’re going to blow yourself up. But you set the grenade next to you and you die. Then, we reprise the scene from the pilot, where Rick crawls in the tank and there’s a zombie there.”
And if you look closely, I played that zombie because we were setting up this prequel we were going to do. If you watch the pilot of Walking Dead, that’s me in the tank as the zombie. And then Rick blasts him and he gets deafened, and he gets that grenade which saves him at the end of the season. Well, we were going to tell the history of the grenade. We were going to tell, also, how another character who is being introduced in the second season how he comes to a certain thing. They were going to do all this cool stuff.
Not doing it now. Why? Because AMC wanted to save a few bucks. That’s just one example of the king of cool, awesome forethought that this guy put into the show that is now absolutely for naught.
If that doesn’t tell you something about how much the actors and crew liked and respected Darabont—that this actor who had an incredibly small part is still clearly bothered by AMC’s decision—then I don’t know what is.
It’s also likely why we’ll never see the episode; if AMC really was threatening cast and crew if they spoke up about Darabont, surely they won’t appreciate Witwer doing it. Unfortunately for them, side from not doing this particular episode, there’s not a whole hell of a lot they can do about it.
What do you think about the prequel episode Frank Darabont hoped to do? Does it sound like something you would have wanted to see, or a story that didn’t need to be told?