Warning: this story contains spoilers for Sunday's episode of Tales of the Walking Dead, "Blair/Gina." 42 minutes. That's the average length of a Walking Dead episode — and a 42-minute real-time window was how long hostile co-workers Blair (Parker Posey) and Gina (Jillian Bell) had to survive apocalypse-stricken Atlanta in the episode's original concept. Rather than telling this Tale in real-time like the Jack Bauer-starring 24, time ran out, restarted, and replayed as Blair and Gina relived their deaths over and over again on Sunday's comedic time loop episode of the anthology series.
"That was a big discussion. It's pretty much still a big discussion about whether or not we should have it in there," series co-creator and showrunner Channing Powell told EW about the time loop concept. "Originally, we actually wanted to do a real-time episode where the clock starts at zero and everything in those next 42 minutes happen in those 42 minutes and it's all real-time. And somehow — I don't even remember how — that evolved. People liked the adrenaline attention and the adrenaline of that feel so much that they wanted it over and over again. So we ended up doing a time loop."
The episode, written by Walking Dead first-timer Kari Drake (Lost in Space), includes clues to possible explanations for the endless loop which sees Blair and Gina dying every time they try to steal an oil tanker truck that always explodes. "Blair/Gina" references déjà vu, the concept of morphic resonance, and the shared psychotic disorder folie à deux, suggesting the "time loop" is grounded in psychology rather than science fiction.
"But I will say, even though we do a time loop, we tried to leave it up to the audience. You can decide whether or not it is actually a time loop, or if there is a justification," Powell said. "There is a justification for it in the episode, and the audience can take away whatever they want from that. They can either believe in the time loop or believe in the justification."
After writing more-serious episodes of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, the first-time Tales showrunner "particularly was craving to do a huge tonal shift just because I do tend to like comedy."
"I tend to like dark comedy a lot. And I just was always curious, what that would look like in this world? And [show co-creator Scott M. Gimple] just embraced my wanting to try new things," Powell explained. "I did know there were going to be other spinoffs. So if people want something that's a little bit more traditional in The Walking Dead space, they have series that they can watch. This one was really the opportunity to go outside that and explore and push the boundaries as far as possible."
New episodes of Tales of the Walking Dead premiere Sundays on AMC and AMC+.