The Walking Dead That Could Have Been: Frank Darabont’s Awesome Season 2 Premiere Concept

By Will LeBlanc | 9 years ago

This story is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it’s so interesting and cool to hear about what ex-Walking Dead show runner Frank Darabont wanted to do with the season 2 premiere back before he got canned. The other side though is that it’s frustrating that AMC squeezed him out and we never got to see what he really wanted to do with the series he birthed. So as neat as this new info is, it does a lot to reignite the fires of hatred we Walking Dead lovers have for AMC and Mad Men show runner Matt Weiner for taking 35% of WD’s already tiny budget.

Being Human’s Sam Witwer recently did an interview for Paranormal Pop Culture in which he slams AMC for their penny pinchery and reveals Frank Darabont’s really excellent idea for season 2’s premiere. Remember back in the pilot when Rick finds himself stuck under a tank surrounded by zombies about a millisecond away from pulling the trigger on himself? We do to. Rick climbs into the open under hatch of the tank and is saved, left only with one zombified army soldier who is swiftly dispatched much to the dismay of Rick’s ears.

Darabont wanted to tell the story of that soldier. How he got there, what his mission was, who he meets on his trek, etc. Witwer was set to play him in the season 2 opener, and in fact played the zombie in the pilot in an uncredited appearance used to set up Darabont’s idea for season 2. Here’s the interview with Witwer (who you video game nerds might recognize as Starkiller from the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed franchise) giving his thoughts on the series…

Looking to confirm the details, the movie hounds over at Ain’t It Cool News contacted Darabont about this really cool idea, and got a massively deep email back getting into all the nooks and crannies of the story Darabont wanted to tell. Here’s an exerpt, if you’d like to read the rest head on over to AICN.

The notion was to take the “throwaway” tank zombie Rick encountered in the pilot, and tell that soldier’s story. Make him the star of his own movie, follow his journey, but don’t reveal who he is until the end. The idea being that every zombie has a story, every undead extra was once a human being with a life of his/her own…was, in a sense, the star of his own life’s movie. And we’ve followed this one particular guy and seen how his life ended; we witness his struggles, see his good intentions and his failures, and we experience his godawful death in this tank. That’s why I cast Sam as that tank zombie in the first place instead of just casting some extra. I had this story in mind while filming the pilot, and I knew I’d need a superb actor to play that soldier when the time came.

This is reminiscent of the web series AMC produced before the second season premiered that chronicled the life of “Bicycle girl”, the very first zombie Rick sees crawling, torn in half at the waist. These kinds of episodes don’t always work, IE the Nikki and Paolo episode of Lost, but with Darabont’s finese it would have been wonderful to see this story take shape. I’m still loving the show even if this season dragged a little, but knowing that there is more genius that could have been worked into the series is frustrating. Damn you, AMC!