It could’ve all started in Atlanta with soldiers parachuting in to the zombie-infested city. We would have focused on one soldier in particular — a kid who ends up holed up in a tank with an unexploded grenade in his hand.
At least that’s the way Frank Darabont supposedly wanted “The Walking Dead” season opener to go. In an e-mail to Ain’t It Cool News, the ousted showrunner details his sweeping plans, saying the episode would have been a “wild card” break from the on-going story.
“After the soldier dies this squalid, lonely death,” he writes, “and after a quiet lapse of time … we do a shot-for-shot reprise from the first episode of the first season: Rick comes scrambling into the tank to escape the horde … blows that zombie soldier’s brains out … now Rick’s trapped .. fade out … the end.”
“They were going to do all this cool stuff,” says Witwer in the interview. “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.”
Ouch. As EW points out, it’s a heck of a lot different from the first half of season 2 we got, almost all of which took place on a farm and didn’t boast much in the way of big zombie battles. Not that we didn’t enjoy the character development, but definitely a budget-conscious move.
Still, as Robert Kirkman and other EPs have noted to Zap2it, Darabont was on board for sketching out the entire arc of season 2’s first half, so whatever the reason behind the change of plans — budget, disagreements among writers, etc. — it didn’t push Darabont out the door at the time.