*Comic book spoilers ahead*
Early on in The Walking Dead Season 4, when Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) started acting a little “messed up,” some fans of the comics began wondering if the AMC show was taking on the child killer storyline from the comics. Yep — they went there in Episode 14, “The Grove,” although with the usual twists and changes.
“This was a story that we always wanted to do, and it was adapting the Ben and Billy storyline from the comics,” comic book writer/executive producer Robert Kirkman told TheWalkingDead.com. “As we got further into the season and things started coming together, it really became a Carol story more than anything. I think a lot of that came from Scott Gimple, our excellent showrunner, and I really think it was a good choice.”
In the comics, Ben and Billy are 5-year-old twins. Ben is the messed-up one and he ends up killing his brother, but saying — like Lizzie of Mika — that he didn’t hurt his brother’s brain, so he will come back.
“In modern society, if there was a Lizzie or a Ben they would be in therapy for years and they would be monitored and there would be efforts taken to try to curb that behavior and prevent them from doing anything dangerous,” RK said. “Those options are not available in this world, and I think that’s another element of the zombie apocalypse that leads to interesting stories.”
Scott Gimple always planned to write this episode, Robert said. “It was a story he had in mind from the beginning and when you have that kind of a situation, it’s good to have the showrunner actually write it because they have a specific vision of what they want out of the episode. [...] Everybody knows that Scott has written some of the best episodes for the show, so anytime he says he wants take one I think everybody’s happy.” Scott wrote the episode where Sophia came out of the barn in Season 2, and the Morgan return episode in Season 3, as well as the Season 4 premiere.
Robert said he noticed there were fans on Twitter who already guessed by Episode 2 that they might be going the way of Ben and Billy with Lizzie and Mika. “So that’s always cool, though in a sense you’re always like, aw man, they’re onto us!” he said. “But with the show being an adaptation and the comics being available, there’s certainly clues out there that people can find in the comics that will indicate possible story points for the show.”
Sometimes fans are right and sometimes we’re “massively wrong,” he said, which is also fun. (Sorry, Dr. S.!) It’s a fun game for both sides, since comic book fans can try to guess how they’ll adapt the show and what direction they’ll take next. Now that we have Ben and Billy’s sad story out of the way (sort of, there may be more fallout) we’re wondering if The Hunters are coming this season, or perhaps next season, and perhaps whoever took Beth might be a version of Father Gabriel Stokes.
Did you always know Lizzie was going to be the new Ben? For a time there, it seemed too obvious, and some fans thought maybe Mika was the new Ben. Other fans thought Lizzie did even more — including killing Karen and David, although Carol was right to point out that she would’ve just let them turn into walkers.
The Walking Dead Season 4 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.