This Is How Frank Darabont Would Have Started Season 2 of The Walking Dead
The idea was to do this with a very focused “you are there” documentary feel. Not going all shaky-cam, but still making it a bit rawer and grainier than the rest of the show. We’d start with a squad of maybe seven or eight soldiers being dropped into the city by chopper. They have map coordinates they need to get to; they’ve been told to report to a certain place to provide reinforcement. It’s not a special mission, it’s basically a housekeeping measure putting more boots on the ground to reinforce key intersections and installations throughout the city. And we follow this group from the moment the copter sets them down. All they have to do is travel maybe a dozen blocks, a simple journey, but what starts as a no-brainer scenario goes from “the city is being secured” to “holy shi*t, we’ve lost control, the world is ending.” Our squad gets blocked at every turn and are soon just trying to survive. I wanted to do a really tense, character-driven ensemble story as communications break down, supply lines are lost, escape routes are cut off, morale falls apart, leadership unravels, mutinies heat up, etc. (Yes, this approach owes a spiritual debt to a number of great films, including Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort.) — Frank Darabont, confirming his plans for the zombie soldier story told by Being Human‘s Sam Witwer (who played that zombie soldier), but denying that it was for a web series. No, this is how the second season of AMC‘s The Walking Dead would have started had Darabont not been fired from the show. Want to know more, like how the show’s regular characters played into this? Because there were plans for that, too.
Darabont continued, responding to Eric “Quint” Vespe at AICN:
Picture our squad arriving at a manned barricade where some civilians are being held back from leaving the city on shoot-to-kill orders to stop the spread of contagion, it’s a panicked high-intensity scene, and in this crowd of desperate people we find Andrea and Amy. The barricade gunners panic, the civilians start to get mowed down by machine gun fire, and in this melee the girls get pulled to safety by some old guy they don’t even know. It’s Dale. He’s nobody to them, just some guy who saw the opportunity to do the right thing and reacted in the moment. This would have been perhaps a minute or two of the episode, just a cool detour like the various outposts the soldiers encounter in Saving Private Ryan, but we would have witnessed the moment that Dale meets Andrea and Amy, seen where that relationship began. I also felt it would be a great way to get Emma Bell back into the series for a moment, because she was so wonderful and we were all so sorry that her character died and she had to leave the show.
He goes on, with even more ideas that will never come to pass on The Walking Dead. Like how much it seemed like Darabont cared about the people these zombies were before they were just undead monsters. Not only that, but also why he made the decision to cast Witwer instead just an extra so there was someone who could make that story come to life. (Witwer was uncredited for the episode he appeared in.) While we have no doubt that Glen Mazzara feels just as strongly as Darabont about the characters in the show he’s running, it’s a rare glimpse into what one creative mind really wanted to do with his show, and now we’re just going to wonder how differently the rest of the season might have looked. Could locked scripts have been rearranged and incorporated other elements? Or would Darabont have been forced to work with exactly what he had and nothing more (and maybe that’s one of the reasons he was let go)? The world may never know.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC Sunday, February 12 at 9:00 PM.
(via Ain’t It Cool News)