The Walking Dead had a lot of scheduling matters to attend to during its appearance at this year’s Comic-Con@Home. The franchise needed to announce release dates for The Walking Dead season 10 finale (DONE), Fear the Walking Dead season 6 (DONE), The Walking Dead: World Beyond (DONE), to go along with some clarification as to what will happen with The Walking Dead season 11 (DONE).
Amid all those anticipated announcements, however, came one unexpected bit of news. The long-awaited Walking Dead season 10 finale won’t actually be the finale. For, come early 2021, season 10 will be receiving six extra episodes. While this is certainly exciting news for The Walking Dead fans, it does raise some more questions…namely: what on Earth are those extra six episodes about?
For what it’s worth, that’s a question that no one outside The Walking Dead writers’ room seems to know. Such is the drawback of having a pre-corded Comic-Con appearance in which fans can’t ask questions.
Thankfully that opens up some space for us to recklessly speculate what could actually end up in The Walking Dead season 10’s six extra episodes. Here are our best guesses.
Could The Walking Dead season 10’s extra episodes be cobbled together from content cut from previous episodes? Eh, probably not. Though The Walking Dead is AMC’s biggest money-making hit, it’s also a relatively lean production (as evidenced by some spotty CGI deer). As such, it hasn’t released too many deleted scenes over the years. And the amount of content cut from season 10 certainly wouldn’t be able to sustain six additional episodes. This is by far the unlikeliest option but we’re including it just in case.
Now here’s a real possibility for The Walking Dead’s next batch of episodes. Both The Walking Dead TV show and comic have deployed flashbacks to the “world before” sparingly. Comic writer Robert Kirkman and television czar Scott Gimple like the story to exist in the present as much as possible. But given the unique filmmaking challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, it might be time for the show to give more flashbacks a shot.
Each of The Walking Dead season 10’s six extra episodes could be devoted to fleshing out a character from their pre-apocalypse life. Survivors like Daryl, Carol, Ezekiel, Eugene, Aaron, and Rosita have found a certain comfort and rhythm in the zombie apocalypse but that certainly wasn’t always the case. Flashbacks to Carol’s time as a mistreated Southern housewife or Daryl’s time as a resourceful outdoorsman could be interesting.
Also there is some precedent for flashback-centric diversions within The Walking Dead. One of the most notable comic side stories is Here’s Negan, a 16-chapter chronicling of Negan’s story from the outset of the zombie uprising through to his time as Savior head honcho. The Walking Dead TV show could go ahead and just adapt this in its entirety. It could likely be shot by a social distancing-friendly skeleton crew.
Continuation from the Comics
The thing about The Walking Dead comic’s many “arcs” is that there is a shocking amount of connective material devoted to moving between them. For instance: while The Whisperer War arc concludes with Volume 27 “The Whisperer War,” the next big arc doesn’t pick up until Volume 30’s “New World Order. That leaves two volumes of 12 total issues worth of content. The action within those two volumes may not be enough to sustain a whole season of The Walking Dead…but it might be perfect for six episodes.
Volume 28 “A Certain Doom” (which is also the name of season 10 episode 16) features some exciting, kinetic action sequences. Though The Whisperers may be vanquished, their massive walker horde lives on. This volume deals with the Alexandrians clearing out the horde in a smart, systematic fashion. It could be fun to watch the show’s crop of Alexandrians and Hilltoppers do the same. And should the series be concerned about the health implications of filming hundreds of walker extras, this arc could be isolated to only what’s going on inside the homes of Alexandria, as our characters wait for the horde to blow on by like a tornado. That could present an interesting opportunity for bottle episodes.
Volume 29 “Lines We Cross” deals with a lot of things already covered in the show – like Eugene’s journey to Stephanie’s community. It seems likely that Eugene in company will stumble across the community (known in the comics as The Commonwealth) in the season 10 finale. So that doesn’t leave much room for more stories of Eugene, Yumiko, Ezekiel, and Princess on the road. That doesn’t mean, however, that we’d have to wait for season 11 to see more of The Commonwealth.
Perhaps, these six extra episodes could be used to do a short “Tales from the Commonwealth” anthology. One of the reasons why The Walking Dead can feel stale at the beginning of seasons is that many of the show’s arcs begin the same. Our familiar crew of people come across an unfamiliar crew of people and must decide whether they can be trusted or not. The Commonwealth will undoubtedly operate under a similar principle once Eugene arrives. But it doesn’t have to if the show uses those six episodes as a creative exercise to introduce the viewer to a whole new world before the characters get to see it. That will add an exciting layer of dramatic irony to the show’s next arc as the viewer will know whether this new society can be trusted or not long before the characters do.
Of all the potential uses of The Walking Dead’s sudden extra time, that seems to be the most exciting option. Hopefully we’ll get to find out what direction The Walking Dead is really set to take before the new episodes arrive in 2021.