The The Walking Dead season finale shambled off TV screens with record breaking numbers (check out our Walking Dead finale review) fueling hungry zombies, I mean fans, to speculate about where the series is headed next season.
Especially the mysterious Lost in Translation whisper between Dr. Jenner and Rick.
According to The Wrap, the season finale took in a total of six million viewers and scored a record breaking (for a basic cable show) four million viewers within the 18-49 demographic.
While the numbers are certainly exciting for any Dead-heads out there, the ratings shouldn't come as any kind of shock, The Walking Dead premiered to 5.3 million viewers and averaged 3.5 million per episode over the course of the six episodes this season - maintaining a sizable audience. Which means there is a veritable horde of viewers hungry for the 13 episodes AMC is promising to deliver in 2011.
That said, no one is more anxious to see what happens to the on-screen Walking Dead drama, than writer Robert Kirkman, the creator of the comic book, who serves as an executive producer for the TV series (and even penned the fourth episode).
Speaking with EW, Kirkman was excited to share about the process of creating the finale - especially considering, at the time, the team wasn't even sure the series would get picked up:
"It’s something that Frank [Darabont, Walking Dead executive producer] was very mindful of. He did a really good job of putting a button on the sixth episode, just in case things went horribly awry. At the same time, there’s a lot of questions and he leaves you with a sense of, “Where are they going down this road and what is going to happen next?” So there’s a lot of room for continuation."
Fortunately, the show was picked up for a second season; though the filmmakers only found out a month ago. As a result, it's not surprising that Kirkman is vague when discussing the upcoming season - a lot of details are, without a doubt, still very much up in the air.
"There’s been a little bit of behind the scenes stuff going on between the producers on the show and AMC, just figuring out when we’re going to get started and how we are going to do things and what our overall plan for season two is. That kind of stuff has been going on. But I don’t think any actual heavy work will be happening until after Christmas."
But we're not entirely in the dark. Kirkman admits that Merle (played by Michael Rooker) isn't going to be M.I.A. for too long:
"We will definitely see Michael Rooker (Merle) again."
Merle and Daryl (Norman Reedus), the hill-billy brothers are not featured in the comic book - created exclusively for The Walking Dead TV series (think Chloe Sullivan in Smallville). While, Darabont and company have previously admitted that the series will not follow the books exclusively, the writers have added free-reign with the brothers - so who knows where Merle will turn up.
That said, Merle could factor into the introduction of one of the series' most iconic villains, The Governor (either serving as a lackey or outright replacing the original character entirely). Merle (not to mention Michael Rooker) would be an easy replacement for the Governor's origin story and their temperaments are a fair match. It might sound like speculation at this point but fans of the comic books would have been negligent if they missed the potential significance of Merle cutting off his own hand.
As for Jenner's mysterious whisper to Rick, Kirkman seemed to hint that it was related to the larger overarching story - not characters within the group (i.e. the Lori/Rick/Shane love-triangle):
"Anything can happen! I don’t want to give anything away! Look, it could have been just like, 'Hey, watch out for those zombies out there, dude!' But it wasn’t. It’ll probably be revealed in season two, what he said. And it’s pretty monumental."
While anything is possible, in the twisted, and increasingly crazy, land of The Walking Dead, describing the whisper as "monumental" seems to indicate a much larger piece of information that Jenner was passing along. While there's no confirmation regarding what exactly Jenner did tell Rick, it's hard to imagine that it'd be related to any specific character, instead of the overarching story - since it may not even be revealed in the second season ("It’ll probably be revealed in season two") - i.e. something Jenner hadn't told the group about the Walkers or another end point for the group to journey toward.
The Walking Dead fans have a lengthy wait ahead of them - since the series will not return with new episodes until October of 2011. In the mean time, make sure to whet your craving for more of The Walking Dead when the first season is released on DVD/Blu ray this Spring.
Source: The Wrap & EW