The Walking Dead is undoubtedly one of the most popular shows on television right now, currently half way through season five and scheduled for two more seasons after that. The shows writer, Robert Kirkman, who is also the writer of the famous comic series that the show is based off of, has been going at it since 2010, mixing and twisting the story around to create a unique set of events somewhat different from the comics. He is however, unable to provide all the details that a viewer might want in each hour long episode aired every week. Certain backstories are sadly left out due to run time or their separation from the main story line. This is where AMC decided to introduce The Walking Dead webisodes. The webisodes branch off of the main line and dig deeper into certain stories otherwise not touched upon in the show. This form of transmedia storytelling allows viewers to obtain a deeper involvement with the show’s world and the characters who inhabit it.
The use of webisodes also allows for a much larger process of world-building for the show. World-building is the process of constructing an imaginary world for a work of fiction to take place in. As Henry Jenkins states in Transmedia Storytelling 101, “Most often, transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories.” With each added webisode, The Walking Dead world expands as viewers are introduced to new places and the unique characters that come with them. The first webisode arch, released back in 2011, tells the story of Hannah after she awakens from a car wreck in her neighborhood. As many soon come to realize, Hannah is the first zombie or “walker” Rick encounters in the main show.
Both the show and the webisode hint towards each other in the form of two long uncut shots. In the main show, the camera cuts to the bicycle zombie or “Hannah” and stays on her for quite some time. In the webisode, as Hannah is running down the street, she passes a bike. The camera stops and hovers over the bike for about the same amount of time. These are both what are known as migratory cues. Migratory cues are signals that prompt us towards another form of medium. When we see the long close up of the bicycle zombie, we get this feeling that something isn’t being said, so when the webisodes were announced, viewers began to watch and learn what happened to the woman. In the first webisode, the long shot of the bike draws us back to the first episode of the main series, completing the connection and hinting towards the pending outcome.
The first few webisodes take place from the start of the outbreak up until the point that Rick finds Hannah, filling in, at least from her point of view, the months Rick was in a coma. After Rick finally gathers his senses and plans to leave, he comes back to Hannah and kills her in an act of sympathy, effectively ending hers, and the webisodes arch of the story. Other webisode arches appear throughout the shows timeline, all with their own unique setting and story.
Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an Aca-Fan. Henry Jenkins, 22 Mar. 2007. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html >.
Murray, Janet H. Hamlet on the Holodeck. New York City: The Free Press, A Division of Simon and Schuster Inc., 1997. PDF.