Last week, during an interview with a HorrorHound Magazine corespondent (via Paranormal Pop Culture), "Being Human" star Sam Witwer revealed that he was originally slatted to appear in AMC's "The Walking Dead" during a flashback story that would have chronicled the Fall of Atlanta to the overwhelming horde of Walkers that would have come full circle with Witwer's cameo appearance as the tank zombie in the pilot episode.
However, former "Walking Dead" showrunner Frank Darabont has come forward to say that he intended to us the story described by Sam as the second season opener instead of a potential web series as mentioned in the earlier report.
"I wanted to kick off the 2nd season with the flashback episode Sam describes, which would have followed a squad of Army Rangers getting trapped in the city and trying to survive as Atlanta falls," wrote Darabont. "The idea was to do this with a very focused 'you are there' documentary feel. Not going all shaky-cam, but still making it a bit rawer and grainier than the rest of the show. We’d start with a squad of maybe seven or eight soldiers being dropped into the city by chopper. They have map coordinates they need to get to; they’ve been told to report to a certain place to provide reinforcement. It’s not a special mission, it’s basically a housekeeping measure putting more boots on the ground to reinforce key intersections and installations throughout the city."
"And we follow this group from the moment the copter sets them down," continued Darabont. "All they have to do is travel maybe a dozen blocks, a simple journey, but what starts as a no-brainer scenario goes from 'the city is being secured' to 'holy s***, we’ve lost control, the world is ending.' Our squad gets blocked at every turn and are soon just trying to survive. I wanted to do a really tense, character-driven ensemble story as communications break down, supply lines are lost, escape routes are cut off, morale falls apart, leadership unravels, mutinies heat up, etc. (Yes, this approach owes a spiritual debt to a number of great films, including Walter Hill’s 'Southern Comfort.')"
Darabont describes Witwer's character as the "moral center" of the soldiers and ultimately, the last survivor of the squad before his sad demise in the tank, where Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) encounters him in the pilot episode. Darabont also disclosed how the flashback episode would potentially bring Emma Bell back for an episode as Amy, as she and her sister, Andrea (Laurie Holden) encounter Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) for the first time.
"Picture our squad arriving at a manned barricade where some civilians are being held back from leaving the city on shoot-to-kill orders to stop the spread of contagion," related Darabont. "It’s a panicked high-intensity scene, and in this crowd of desperate people we find Andrea and Amy. The barricade gunners panic, the civilians start to get mowed down by machine gun fire, and in this melee the girls get pulled to safety by some old guy they don’t even know. It’s Dale. He’s nobody to them, just some guy who saw the opportunity to do the right thing and reacted in the moment."
"This would have been perhaps a minute or two of the episode," added Darabont. "Just a cool detour like the various outposts the soldiers encounter in 'Saving Private Ryan,' but we would have witnessed the moment that Dale meets Andrea and Amy, seen where that relationship began. I also felt it would be a great way to get Emma Bell back into the series for a moment, because she was so wonderful and we were all so sorry that her character died and she had to leave the show. (Of course if this “brush with established characters” idea didn’t work in the script stage, I’d have tossed it out. You try a lot of ideas like that as you go, see how they play. But I thought this one stood a pretty good chance of being engineered to work well.)"
The entire letter from Darabont is a fascinating read about what could have been a great episode in the second season of "The Walking Dead." As Witwer himself pointed out, the seeds of this potential story were planted all the way back in the pilot; which would have helped make this a fantastic payoff.
"The Walking Dead" will resume its second season on Sunday, February 12.