There were a lot of deaths in the midseason finale of AMC's The Walking Dead, which aired on Sunday, but there was one in particular that will leave the chemistry of the show changed for a while to come.
In a conversation about the midseason finale with Entertainment Weekly, the writer/producer told them that there was a very specific reason for that big death that kicked off this weekend's bloodbath, and a plan for how it will impact the characters going forward.
"[Hershel] was the moral compass of the group and it’s always good to lose the moral compass," Kirkman said. "It will all become clear when we finally show you the back half of season 4. It wasn’t enough for these characters to lose the prison. They also had to feel some kind of loss over something important and Hershel was that thing that was important to each and every character, so it made the most sense to take him off the table and see how it affects the characters, which we’ll see when we come back in a bit. So there’s a lot of cool stuff ahead because of that."
He also said that even though The Governor clearly hated Michonne more, he chose to kill Hershel first in part because he could see the character's importance to the larger group.
"Well, there’s two things: I don’t think he knew that things were going to spiral out of control the way they did right after he killed Hershel so it’s entirely possible that he had a much more horrible plan for Michonne," said Kirkman. "But two, because of that exchange between Hershel and the Governor in the trailer, and because of Rick’s comments mirroring a lot of what Hershel said, I think the Governor got the sense that this was the guy that was advising Rick and kind of represented the whole “we can all live together in harmony” attitude, and that’s the guy you want to take off the table just to show this is not what’s happening. I’m going to take this prison."