Running From The Walking Dead Pt. 2 – Increase tension, finish the story arc

Last week, I talked about how I’d introduce a character into AMC’s The Walking Dead. Now that we’ve established Andrew as a capable secondary character and set up a conflict with Glenn, it’s time to dial it up and explore that conflict a bit further.

Glenn has already been established as self-doubting and indecisive, so we’re going to play on those insecurities with Andrew. At some point early in the season, after Andrew takes the group to his safehouse, he leaves again to scavenge. Glenn and Maggie go along, since that’s their primary role as well, despite Andrew’s reservations about their ability to keep up. The three drive from the safehouse to the edge of the city and proceed in on foot. They gather some supplies, but what they really want (let’s say pharmaceuticals) are in a building across a street and parking lot overrun with walkers. Glenn and Maggie sigh and give up but Andrew stops them with a “where are you going” statement. The two men argue for a moment before Andrew tells them to wait by the truck and starts jogging toward the building. The walkers start to notice and advance, but he easily evades or dispatches them and gets into the building without much effort.

Maggie and Glenn pull the truck to just within site of the building, waiting anxiously. They’re just about to give up and leave when Andrew bursts out of the building, several walkers in tow. He continues to dodge and evade as the rest join in the chase, finally reaching the truck and jumping into the bed as Glenn speeds off. At this point we can break the scene and switch to a different story thread.

The next time we see them, Andrew is in the cab of the truck as they drive back to the prison, with Maggie seated between him and Glenn. Maggie and Andrew are having an excited conversation while Glenn drives, saying little, looking apprehensive and jealous. Maggie is extremely impressed with Andrew’s abilities, and we learn that he used to teach Parkour in Colorado or Seattle or maybe someplace in Canada. If we want to we can use this opportunity to talk about safety, or parkour vision, anything that might be mysterious to the audience. He was in Atlanta visiting friends when the outbreak hit, and still doesn’t know if his family survived. So now not only is he better at scavenging and better looking than Glenn, but we also have a sympathetic angle to humanize him a bit.

We see different aspects of this for several episodes: Andrew is always confident, always calm and casual, as if nothing can stop him or bring him down. He and Maggie start interacting more and, even though Maggie is still romantically linked to Glenn and shows it, he gets more and more jealous and pissed off. About halfway through the season (maybe episode 5 or 6), he finally confronts Maggie about his feelings, at which point she points drops a bomb on Glenn by pointing out that Andrew is gay.

Now, Glenn has never really interacted with a gay man before, so he instantly becomes twice as uncomfortable around Andrew, even though Andrew doesn’t treat him any differently. When Glenn asks him he confirms it, but he doesn’t flirt with Glenn or do anything to act stereotypically gay, he just is. We get one or two episodes of Glenn avoiding Andrew and being generally squirmy before Andrew finally confronts him, and we get some kind of dialog/chewing out, wherein Andrew tries to explain that it’s no different than working with Lori or Andrea, and that Glenn needs to grow the hell up or he’s going to get them both killed.

Eventually (around episode 9 maybe), Glenn does come around when, on another scavenging mission, the two of them are swarmed and cornered. Andrew tells Glenn to hide and starts making a lot of noise, drawing the walkers away from him. He shouts back for Glenn to go without him, he’ll be fine. He waits until Andrew’s drawn the walkers away, but can’t abandon Andrew. He follows and sees that Andrew’s trapped on top of a truck. He scrambles onto the roof of a nearby building and finds something – a length of rope, a curtain, or something – tosses one end over the side, wraps the other end around himself and braces his legs against the edge of the building. Andrew leaps and grabs the rope, and climbs while Glenn pulls him up.

No words of apology or anything are exchanged between Andrew and Glenn, but they’re now much more tightly bonded. We see that Glenn grow up a bit, and we see that Andrew isn’t invulnerable, and can bite off more than he can chew.

At this point, the story arc is finished, and we have to decide what to do with the Andrew character. There are a few different ways we could go with this:

  • If we want to get rid of him for a while (or for good), we don’t have Glenn go after him when he lures the walkers away. He’d probably try, but more walkers would come out of the woodwork and cut him off. He’d have no choice but to run the other direction and escape. He’ll probably look back full of regret, but have no choice but to leave him behind. Andrew’s fate will be a mystery (much like Mearl’s), and he could pop up again later, possibly in a different form.
  • If we like Andrew and want to keep him around, He and Glenn (and possibly Maggie) become a scavenging unit. Andrew starts training them in parkour, and the three of them would be more organized, more coordinated, more effective at retrieving supplies, allowing the rest of the group to get away, rescuing other survivors, etc…

That’s it for now. I think this is a pretty decent attempt to write a traceur into The Walking Dead. What do you think? And AMC if you’re reading, I am available for writing and/or stunt duties.

Running From The Walking Dead – The Why and the How & Character Introduction

A few weeks ago I listed five reasons we wouldn’t want to see parkour on The Walking DeadI still believe all those things, but I also believe there’s a way it could work. I think a character proficient in parkour could add a lot to the show. In fact, I’m going to try my hand at writing that character in.

In case you’re a time traveler reading this from the far-flung future, as of this writing we’re currently waiting for season 3 to start. The farm has been overrun, the survivors are headed toward the prison, and we just caught a glimpse of sword-wielding, zombie-domesticating badass Michonne.

Season 3 is obviously already written and shot, so I’m going to skip right to Season 4. Since I haven’t seen season 3, I have to make some assumptions about what happens. I assume:

  1. The group will have to leave the prison by the end of the season, and be back on the road, probably near a city.
  2. Rick, Glenn, and Maggie are still alive by the end of the season.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Our primary cast is approaching double-digits, and there just isn’t screen time to devote to another one in a single season (especially a half-season of thirteen episodes like TWD gets). So if we’re going to introduce a new character, it has to be a secondary character. They’ll get some screen time, sure, but the stories shouldn’t really ever be about them.

At the same time, they’ll also have to serve a purpose. I don’t want a token character, one who’s only there to fill a demographic. This character should be a tool to drive the story, to force one of the main characters to grow and adapt, and introduce an additional layer of drama.

Introducing the Character

The scene would open with the main group of characters making their way along the outskirts of the city, presumably looking for a safe place. Cut to a shaky-cam shot of a man running through the same city. Back to the group, Darryl hears something and holds up his hand to stop them. Back to the man, we now see he’s being chased by eight to ten walkers. Continue cutting back and forth between the group – who’s listening, hiding, and trying to determine the source of the sounds- and the fleeing man – who’s jumping, swinging, and rolling through the street as he evades his undead pursuers.

Finally someone spots him and we get a better look: he’s in his late twenties, athletic, and generally attractive. He’s using parkour to evade the walkers. Somebody states the obvious – “We’ve got to help him!” – but too loud, and one of the walkers turns to look. The man shouts at it, and it turns back and starts chasing him again.

At this point the group notices he is losing the walkers one by one, as they get stuck in trash, fall off cars and ledges, or are blocked by fences and walls. Maybe one manages to get a little too close, so he pulls out a telescoping baton and dispatches it before continuing on. After he seems to lose the last of the walkers, the group continues on.

Soon after, the group hears something again, only this time it’s close, and coming for them. Weapons drawn, they wait as our character emerges with a hands-up-don’t-shoot moment. He assures the group he’s lost all the walkers, and introduces himself as Andrew. He mentions that they look like they need a place to stay and offers to take them to a safe place he’s been hiding out. He explains that he’s been hiding out here for a few days, making runs out to to gather supplies. Maggie asks if it’s safe for him to go out alone, to which he makes some sort of arrogant remark about how, “anyone else would just slow me down.” Maggie looks impressed, Glenn looks jealous.

Now we’ve set up Andrew’s primary role in the story: someone to seriously threaten Glenn and his usefulness in the group. Up to this point, Glenn has been the party’s go-to guy to retrieve supplies, provide recon, even act as a decoy. But it’s very likely that Andrew is better at all of those things than he is, and he’s also better-looking and more confident. The more time Andrew spends with the group, the more Glenn is going to second-guess himself and question his own value.

We don’t have to see Andrew much after this for a while: He’ll slide into the background as  the group focuses on whatever the primary arc is for the season, only to show himself when needed to continue Glenn’s character arc.

This should be enough to pique your interest. I’ll talk more about that next week. See you then!