Even though mum was most definitely the word when talking with the cast and producers of AMC’s The Walking Dead, a few details about the fourth season did manage to claw their way out during Comic-Con. The zombie drama’s panel touched on some of the major talking points but the event is always so much of a circus that’s it’s hard to get any in depth answers. They did, however, debut the killer Season 4 trailer during their hour in Hall H. If you haven't seen The Walking Dead season 4 trailer yet, watch it right here...
I’m sure it blew the roof off the place, I don’t know for sure, I was watching it on my iPhone while waiting for the talent to make their way over to the roundtables scheduled right after the main event. The resounding vibe was still one of spoiler-worried reservation but I was able to learn a little more about what to expect this season on The Walking Dead. Here’s what stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, David Morrissey, Chad Coleman and Scott Wilson as well as executive producers Robert Kirkman (also the comic book creator), Greg Nicotero (also the special effects make-up supervisor and frequent director), Scott Gimple (also the new showrunner), Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert had to say about…
Break Up And Make-Up
It wouldn’t be a new season of AMC’s The Walking Dead without a new showrunner - forget the cast, if anyone is sure to die during the season, it’s them - and Scott Gimple kicked things off by discussing the change in responsibilities that come with him being put in the hot seat. He said, “I have a lot of support. A great set of executive producers, a great cast and crew. AMC’s been fantastic. I’d say it’s just everything I was doing before just with 18 other jobs," Gimple said, before adding “there’s a lot of unexpected things. Wonderful things, tough things, but there’s always somebody ready to pitch in. The constant support makes you want to do even better. Stuff for the fans, stuff for people on the show."
As far as the day to day, “you’re doing the same stuff, writing and producing, it just comes with a lot of other things. A lot of long term thinking and plotting things out for the future. Bringing elements together." Gimple then went into a bit more detail about the creative side of the process and the challenge of adaptation, specifically trying to bring elements from the comic that might have been missed back into the story. "We have characters that are not alive that are alive in the book. We have characters that never appear in the book. We have a lot of events that didn’t quite happen the same way in the book but there’s no much stuff in the book, stuff that we’ve passed in the timeline, that I really though was awesome and I really wanted to get to."
So how do they reintroduce ‘past’ events from the comic into the TV show? “What’s terrific, and I’m not going to point the stuff in the tease that you might see, is using big moments from the comic in different ways, with different characters and with different context." Some more behind-the-scenes business was also brought up when executive producer and special effects make-up supervisor Greg Nicotero talked about what it was like to be asked to direct the Season 4 premiere. After an anecdote about how fellow executive producer Gale Anne Hurd “had this perfect speech planned" and he “blew it" by stepping into an elevator and dropping the call, Nicotero discussed his run leading up to the first episode of the new year, his fifth time as a director on The Walking Dead.
"I’ve been really blessed to get to work with Jeff DeMunn. The first episode of television I had ever directed was that episode" Nicotero told us, before adding “So it was really exciting, doing the season premiere was great." With Norman Reedus to his right, he also didn’t want to miss the chance to discuss a pivotal moment in the show and their working relationship, “with Merle’s demise and working with Norman in that episode too, I feel like I’ve been really blessed that I’ve been given these great dramatic moments that these guys just fuckin’ knock out of the park every time."
Of course, Nicotero couldn’t go into too much detail about what we might see in the premiere but the special effects and make-up legend did share their philosophy behind the walker design for Season 4. "We always like to play the idea that walkers have been just sitting in the sun and turning leathery and decomposing and just really nasty. So every season, we do dozens of new sculptures and we’re always modifying the contact lenses and the dentures." And in addition to the people made to look dead, they also "have a bunch of hand puppets that we’ve made that have lip movement, you can open their mouth and their lips move. Even in the first episode we’re interspersing walkers at the fence with puppets. We’re just trying to keep our visual palette always different and ever changing."
Before anyone else could jump in with a question or observation, Reedus noted that “there’s a walker in the teaser that we just showed that should be in the Louvre. It’s the most beautiful walker you’ve ever seen." The walker in question can be seen at the three minute mark in the trailer, it’s the one that looks part zombie, part tree. Nicotero is quick to add that "Robert Kirkman wrote that gag" before getting into how they pulled it off. “I read the description in the script and then we did some concept work and some sculptures and stuff. Then we buried a guy in the ground and put fake legs and made it super elaborate and a great visual but it’s a gag that tells the story."
To stress that these zombie set pieces aren’t just spectacle, Nicotero explains how “the writers have really made the gags intrinsic to the storytelling. Like Darabont did in the pilot when you see that half-walker in the park. It just speaks volumes about our world is like now, and you feel compassion when Rick kneels down and says ‘I’m sorry this happened to you.’ And the thing is just weakly reaching up to him. That changed the course of zombies for me forever."
Before moving onto more Season 4 details, it’s also important to take a minute or two to mourn the loss of some of our favorite characters. Showrunners aren’t the only ones getting killed off onThe Walking Dead. At least comic book creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman is honest about it saying that "it’s eventually coming for everybody." David Morrissey, who has his fair share of experience dealing death as The Governor, adds that “if people didn’t die, you’d start not believing in the world. The show is about that. And I think one of the tenets the show has with the audience is that no one is safe."
But, to use a phrase from the table, it’s never mindless, with the actor explaining how the show is “asking very logical questions about survival in this world and one of the logical conclusions is that people are going to die. And the people you love are going to die. That’s it. And we work from that logic all the time. If we didn’t have that the show would cease to have the magic that it has." With popular characters like Andrea and Merle both biting it last season, Gimple also wanted to ensure that the fans know “it’s horrible to sit in front of the keyboard and write those scenes cause you’re losing too. You lose somebody you enjoy working with, you lose somebody who you’ve possibly known for years and on top of that you lose the character you love seeing on TV."
He does, however, appreciate the bond that is created with the audience when everyone shares in the pain. “I think it kind of makes it cool that we pay a price too. That it is painful on many levels and it’s amazing to be writing that moment, crossing that line on the page and then the ugliness of having to deal with it is a very weird thing." Well aware he’s at Comic-Con, Morrissey makes the connection all nerds were waiting for by saying what he "loved about this show as a viewer was that it’s not the Star Trek thing where they beam down to the planet and you’ve got four guys you already know and then there’s one guy and it’s ‘I don’t think he’s gong to be safe.’"
The wounds are obviously still festering for some since "sympathetic loss" were the words Reedus used to describe the tone of the upcoming season. He did lose a brother after all. "I don’t know if he’s over it but, you know, he thought his brother was already gone until we got to Woodbury and heard he was there. He sort of accepted it without wanting to before then." Reedus then echoes something Carol noted on the show, how “with Merle away, Daryl became his own man in a lot of ways." And death certainly isn’t anything new for the characters, saying “To lose him again, it hurts but being in this world, this long, there’s also that they’re losing people all the time. So it’s understandable and painful but he grew up a lot in one episode."
Nicotero laments losing not just a great character in Merle but also Michael Rooker and the fantastic chemistry the actors developed working together over several seasons. To make his point, Nicotero cites a tender moment late last season where Daryl touches his brother’s arm “and that wasn’t in the script, that was just something these guys did when they were rehearsing and I was like, that’s fucking awesome." He continued to praise his actors, “I love what these guys bring to their characters and they know their characters better than anyone else on the planet. Norman and I talk about the little nuances that he throws in Daryl that are things that people respond to and he really adds those layers."
Rooker was so invested in Merle that he even fought with Nicotero over the infamous missed shot, insisting that his character would have killed the Governor. He adds that fans can hear it for themselves on the Season 3 DVD, “Michael and I did commentary on that episode and we get in an argument about it. ‘I would never miss that shot, I hate the way this is edited.’" While it seems like Rooker has chosen denial, there are many other ways the actors and their characters have (and will) handle loss. Lauren Cohan (Maggie) points to "a spirituality, a faith" and Scott Wilson (Hershel) adds that the "entire group are survivors." For him, even those that didn’t make it this far, like Andrea and Merle, they "were also survivors, they did survive beyond what could be expected. There’s a warrior spirit, I believe, to everyone in this show."
On top of their strength as individuals, Wilson is sure to also stress that "when characters go through those traumas, the group is so tight knit that they helps keep everyone pulled together. Helps mend them and prepare for the next one." And like the producers said, there’s always going to be a next one, with death coming for everybody. Some people twice! The bottom line is that is what The Walking Dead is about, life and death as well as the shifting definition of both. Gimple explains that "how do those stakes change you? How does that change the person you are? And if it does just turn out to be just survival than is that living? How does that make you, you? How does that change your identity?"
It only seems fitting when discussing how the constant high stakes have changed the characters to turn to David Morrissey’s Governor, someone who has clearly come a long way since the dead started walking their world. Scott Gimple explains that, “The Governor was not, I mean, I trip over spoilers, but that picture of him with his wife and his daughter, he wasn’t that guy before this all started. The people dying around him changed him into that." And that cagey explanation of the man he used to be combined with the recent news that there will be two standalone episodes devoted to the Governor in Season 4 makes me wonder if those installments might include some flashbacks?
Whether his past explicitly makes it into the show or not, Morrissey is always thinking about "the life that the Governor had in the novels that Robert (Kirkman) wrote as well, The Rise Of The Governor and The Road To Woodbury." The actor says that fans know “the comic book Governor but who was he before? And it’s in those great books and we wanted to bring those in as well." As for when we’ll be seeing the antagonist again, Morrissey joked that he was “playing the horse" in the preview and then remained tight lipped about his return. The previously referenced TVLine post that discusses the standalone episodes, however, mentions that they will occur near the end of the first half of the season. So, maybe Episodes 7 and 8?
When asked about his state of mind (a common question for this cast) the actor has much more to say about what to expect from the Governor. “He’s in a deeply traumatic place, that’s where he is. He has issues. He’s psychopathic and stuff but I don’t think he does those things without consequence to his soul." Gimple picks up on this thread, adding that "he slaughters his own people but when he gets in that truck, he’s not smiling or grinning. He’s got no moustache to twirl." The Governor doesn’t do anything lightly, Morrissey says of his actions, “they take a toll on him. He has to carry that burden, so the great thing for me in the season coming up is the writers have written some great complex things for me to do."
Of course, he doesn’t really get into what these complex things are only that “it’s very surprising. I think people will be very surprised by what they’ve come up with, and it’s a joy to play." The actor also has to be able to empathize with his character and Morrissey does a great job rationalizing his behavior. “You look at any war-zone, talk to any soldier, they have to blank-out certain things in order to walk forward. In order for them to survive, they have to blank out something that’s innate in themselves in order to do it." He adds that “with the Governor, you’re seeing someone who’s blanked out a lot of himself. He’s battling inside himself, the person, who is that person?"
Gimple answers without giving too much (well, anything) away, explaining how the character "had the public face and the very surprising private face and when he killed those people, that’s a very public act so those two sides get integrated. So who is he now? And who will he be moving forward?" When it comes to the rest of the cast, Lauren Cohan and Steven Yeun were also asked if the Governor is still on their character’s minds with the former immediately answering, "always. Always." Yeun followed up with, “some characters are more focused on him than others." I can imagine. The Governor wasn’t the only main character added to the cast last season but the other didn’t have nearly as much time to shine. That won’t be the case come Season 4.
“Aside from the eventual, mysterious and unspecified return of the Governor, for me something I’m really excited about for Season 4 is Tyreese stepping up as a character and taking a more central role," says Kirkman, echoing the thoughts of comic book readers everywhere. (And fans of The Wire since the popular character is played by Chad Coleman.) Kirkman explains that “we didn’t get a lot of time with him in Season 3 just because of everything that was going on but now in Season 4 we’re really able to bring him to the forefront and integrate him into the core cast in a big way."
When asked what we might see from Tyreese, Kirkman shared the very nondescript "we’re doing a lot with him" he said, before adding that “Coleman has proven that he has very broad shoulders that can carry the weight of what we’re asking him to do and I’m really excited for people to see what we do… I think it’s going to be really awesome." The comic book creator isn’t the only one who thinks so with Coleman using very similar words to describe his time as the The Walking Dead character so far saying, "it was an awesome experience. A total homage to the comic so that was amazing. Our amazing fans are going to really appreciate that."
The actor seems genuinely excited to be a part of the craziness, beaming that when the aforementioned fans see him this season, “they’re just gonna say, ‘yeah, that’s Tyreese’ and I’m looking forward to that. That’s going to be wonderful." Going only on what I saw in the trailer, where he is front and center, he’s got every right to be that confident. Coleman discusses how he thinks watching people “wrestling with something" is what makes compelling drama and wants audiences “to witness this man wrestle with the rules of engagement around him, how he fits it, where he fits in in that world" He adds that Tyreese “seems to have a profound belief in non-violent conflict resolution but how does that really fit in a claustrophobic world? I believe you’ll see him tested. And no one goes unscathed."
Does that mean Sasha’s time is numbered? No one asked but everyone must be thinking it. The promo certainly makes it look that way. Andrew Lincoln (Rick) was quick to answer on Coleman’s behalf, trying to tiptoe around the information by ‘asking’ "are we allowed to say episodes? Are we allowed to talk about like, if I said Episode 3 is my favorite? He did some of the most magnificent work… Am I? I’ve said it." Before the producers could get Lincoln in too much trouble for the slip (don’t worry, there were several more times when the cast worried about what was and wasn’t fair game), Coleman chimed in to reiterate that "no one goes unscathed. So we’ll see. They’ve been committed to giving Tyreese a voice and a place that we really haven’t seen so far."
Lincoln also seems pretty excited about the new addition, talking about all the positive energy when the two get to work together and, putting foot in mouth again, how it still early. “We’ve had some great scenes to play this seasons so far and we’re not far. What are we, six… I’m not allowed to say that am I? We’re sixteen in. That’s what I said." As Lincoln looks over at executive producer Gale Anne Hurd sheepishly and apologetic, Coleman tries his best to cover, saying "that’s what it feels like."
After some nervous laughter, Hurd is quick to steer the conversation back to Rick and Tyreese and how the "two alpha males" will get along this season. Lincoln, not wanting to leave Daryl out of the equation says, "Three alpha males" before explaining how “two is easier to manage. You see that with kids, don’t you? When they’re three in a group it gets complicated and I think that’s an interesting triangle as well, these three alphas males in this closed community." And, of course, there’s always those pesky walkers, other survivors and, in a sly nod to his inability to answer, well, anything, Lincoln closes with “the added pressures that we’re not allowed to talk about, it’s a very combustible mix."
It’s probably not a coincidence that once Andrew Lincoln used the word combustible, he was then immediately asked about Rick’s mental state when we catch up with them this season. "He’s fine! What’s wrong with you guys. He was just a little tired," Lincoln said jokingly before praising the writers who did “magnificent job reeling him back in. It’s a man trying to reclaim the man he once was. Yeah, he’s… they’ve done a very smart thing." He stops before revealing ‘too much’ and is similarly tight-lipped when asked about whether the detective work we see him in the promo also helps bring out the old Rick, "I haven’t seen the trailer so I don’t really know. But yes, you do get a little sense of the old sheriff somewhat. At some point."
Season 3 ended with Rick not only in a more stable place mentally (not exactly difficult) but also declaring a more democratic decision making process in the camp. Lincoln explains that “we find him battling with trying to subdue the brutality that’s inherent in this man and also maybe relinquishing responsibilities of leadership for the sake of his family." What will the new, sideline Rick look like? "You see a man trying to be a single dad in an apocalypse. It’s a challenge. A challenge anywhere. He wasn’t changing many diapers last year." No, he certainly wasn’t. Unless his hallucination-wife was sporting some under that white dress. Lincoln was asked if audiences will get to see Rick return to a leadership role and he handle the question delicately.
Shocking, I know. "Yes. But I’m not sure that he’s willing to do it yet. He realized that the death of Andrea, along with Carl becoming a murderer, for all intents and purposes, were two huge turning points in making him return, or attempt to return, to the man he once was." Not letting that hang in the air too long, the actor qualifies it by adding, "I haven’t read all the scripts but thus far it’s a man wrestling with lots of things. A combination of him trying to do right in an impossible situation. I don’t know, he’s a born leader who keeps getting thrust into the line of fire and somehow finding the resolve to come back. I don’t think that’s changed in him but certainly his responsibilities massively changed."
Oh, and in case you didn’t notice Lincoln just called his TV son a murderer. To be fair, Carl totally is a murderer and it’s something that’s on the minds of many cast members. Wilson mentions how "there are a lot of issues left over from last season, look closely at what happens to Carl. Where is he going? As he grows up, what’s he turning into?" Hershel was the one who brought the boy’s troubling development to his father’s attention and often serves as the moral compass of the show. Nicotero adds that "everybody has had to do terrible things to survive in this world. Carl shot somebody in the face!" But Nicotero also points out that one of the central purposes of the show is to make characters "question their own humanity. And truthfully, the big question is can you come back from that? Can you do things that you need to do to survive?"
Of course, these people don’t just have to worry about themselves but also the safety of their loved-ones and that’s when characters start to do really crazy things. (The Governor.) Nicotero continues by asking "what would you be willing to do to keep someone safe? What would you be willing to sacrifice? We get into those themes a lot in Season 4." Keeping someone safe doesn’t mean protecting them only from physical harm but also from all the mental damage this world can inflict and Nicotero once again references Carl shooting a kid in the face and how "that moment of just abject horror where Rick sees what his son is capable of, he realizes that my responsibility is making sure that, in this world where no rules apply, my children have to grow into human beings that aren’t completely devoid of any emotions or any feelings."
He adds that "Rick makes a conscious decision that Carl and Judith are of primary importance." Lincoln doesn’t want to imply that all will be well in the Grimes’ house though, even with all the parental attention. The actor brings up "the last shot you see of him and the boy, it’s a boy shocked at the decision he makes - to bring in the people from Woodbury. These are two people that are very much at odds. They do a very smart thing. I don’t know if I can talk about it." He looks to the producers at the table for guidance and their pursed smiles say it all. “No," Lincoln answers his own question, adding “they did a really smart thing. Stay tuned."
With Rick moving away from the leadership role in order to look after the rest of the Grimes, Nicotero notes that it "does give an opportunity for Daryl to take a unique position in the group and that’s something that definitely gets explored in the first couple episodes of Season 4." Reedus counters almost immediately though, explaining his character's different approach, "the things that need to be done, Daryl will make sure they get done. You know, 'snap, get up, let’s get going.' He’s that guy but he doesn’t want to sit around and like look into your eyes and talk about your feelings... He’s not that guy."
According to Reedus, come Season 4, "it’s not really one of those camps where everyone is trying to fight to be the lead wolf" because "everybody in the cast, everybody in that prison can kick ass. We’ve watched them all kick ass. I don’t think anyone is trying to step on anybody else’s toes on purpose." Obviously, the 'on purpose' hints at the inevitable human conflicts that's bound to arise in the extreme circumstances but Steven Yeun (Glenn) echoes his co-stars comments about newfound equality. "When Rick declares a true democracy at the end of Season 3, saying 'it’s all your choice to stay or go,' your voice is heard."
Yeun also explains that it's "going to be who’s the straight out leader, who’s this and who’s that, it’s going to be how does every single person apply to the whole to continue to survive." And without Andrea around to help lead (she's very much Rick's right hand woman in the comic), Cohan says that her character will be picking up a lot of that slack as we'll "see a reliance from Rick on Maggie as the season progresses. She’s very much more capable." Not to sell her character short, the actress explains that "she’s always been very capable, strong and good with guns" but it's a bit different after the ordeal Maggie went through at the end of last season, "she’s not shakable anymore is seems."
Wilson agrees with his on-screen daughter and includes Yeun in the praise, noting that "these two are certainly warriors" and even though "she was tough up front, it’s still been fun to watch their characters grow. And do so well." Speaking of doing well, keen eyed observers might have noticed that something of Hershel's missing in the trailer. No not another limb, just the opposite with Wilson pointing out how "he was walking around without his crutches in the preview, so that tells you something" before joking that "he’s learned how to levitate, so that’s an improvement." I'll say. I wonder how they managed to fix him up? A peg leg? The next Cherry Darling?
As for everyone's favorite post-apocalyptic couple, Cohan and Yeun aren't sure exactly what they can and cannot disclose (surprise) but the former kicks the discussion off with "we can say, Maggie and Glenn have a relationship." So. In case that wasn't clear, that is a relationship we've been watching. On a more serious note, are the relationship-havers over the traumatic experience with the Governor? Yeun thinks "it’s got to be damaging. I wouldn’t say it’s in the forefront or anything that informs a decision but you cannot forget something like that." Finishing his sentence, Cohan adds "but it doesn’t put a wedge between us" before saying that "it drives us together. It’s that hurdle, the good hurdle that you get through."
And that brings us to the big question about the, uh, big question with Yeun describing "that moment of proposal. And I love that moment because it was mutual. It wasn’t 'let me take you as my wife,' it was like 'we’re agreeing to be in this together right?'" Asking someone to marry you is always a big deal but their moment was even more significant according to the actor "considering we could die in 30 minutes. And so, we leave from that moment I think solidified, united, together. We can’t really talk about what’s coming up because we can say that those two are together. The are each others."
It looks like we don't have to worry about the couple breaking up, only one or both of them dying. Whew? Will they actually have a wedding with a formal ceremony? Yeun and Cohan both laugh, the actor saying "that’s exactly what we cannot talk about. I think the characters strive for normalcy and all of that but I don’t know if we’re going to get to see it." If I was a betting man, I'd say that the two are going to be wed this season but perhaps the circumstances will be bittersweet. Why else would the actors be instructed to not talk about something unless there was something to not talk about?
Every new season of The Walking Dead needs to bring in more zombie fodder and the fourth is no different. Scott Gimple was asked how they plan to weave in all the new characters that we saw in the trailer (there's a lot) and he said, "luckily, they all effect one another. They aren’t solitary, off on their own." The new showrunner adds, "we have a new character Bob Stookey (played by Lawrence Gilliard Jr. from The Wire) who is coming on and some major stuff goes down that both puts him in opposition to some characters and closer to some characters."
Basically the easiest way to integrate fresh blood is to bring them into immediate conflict with the returning characters. Well, conflict or romance. Gimple brings up the other major addition to the cast, someone not too heavily featured in the promo material, "this character Zach played by Kyle Gallner who was in Veronica Mars and Jennifer's Body." The showrunner took a moment to say he wished he knew more of the actor's credit, worried he "might be leaving out The Phantom Menace or something."
When his idea of a cool credit is mocked by the entire table (Kirkman's eyebrow almost went through the roof), Gimple tries to save face, "I don’t know if I’d like that credit. Would I like A New Hope more? Yes." Undeterred by the momentary lapse, he continues to talk about Zach, adding that "he has a romantic relationship with one of the characters and that’s a way that very quickly that we get to know him." I'm guessing that the romance in question is with Emily Kinney's Beth because, well, she's the only one age appropriate. It doesn't take a sheriff.
Robert Kirkman also had a lot to say about Gallner, noting that he's an "excellent addition to the overall ensemble. Really adds a lot to the mix." Then again, that's what all good characters do, according to the creator because "adding in new blood that changes the dynamic of the group and also keeps the show evolving. Everything is evolving in this show, the characters are evolving, the cast is evolving, the setting is evolving and you wanted to be able to weave things in in really cool ways that move things forward." He adds stresses how important it is for the group to gain a fresh perspective on the world, someone that can say "I actually experienced this somewhere so I know that we can do this and bring new experiences to this cast."
And like I said above, the show always needs more bodies, especially corpses that the writers can get us to care about first. As for when they will be introduced, Andrew Lincoln's description of the first episode back sounds like it might include some new characters saying that it "feels like tonally a mixture of the pilot episode, with the pacing and character development, alongside some of the best action sequences in Season 3." Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd agrees, stating that the premiere is "very character driven but there will be some moments of horror and obviously there’s scope and action."
Having more people around will provide happiness for some as well as bring new experiences to the group but Executive producer Dave Alpert also notes that it's simply harder for large numbers to stay safe in the world. "It’s easy to stay away from the zombies when you’re moving," he says, "but you can’t put down roots or have any form of a life." The push and pull of these conflicting desires, survival and living, once you start to give in to the latter "you become a bigger and bigger target. And as that balances out, it will be a core theme this season." Will the ever expanding group be able to establish any kind of home? Or are the threats, old and new, too great? Yes, new.
Threats, Old And New
The most exciting news to come out of the interviews had to do with a mysterious new danger that the group would be facing in Season 4. But before getting into specifics about the threat, well, as close to specifics as this group would allow, there are still those pesky walkers to worry about with Andrew Lincoln sharing that “they are behaving in different ways" before once again asking his producer Gale Anne Hurd, “I’m allowed to say that?"
Instead of answering him, Hurd does her best to address the change in walker behavior by citing a moment in the trailer when Tyreese is surrounded and adding “it’s not like, ‘oh they’re manageable, oh no problem.’ We really never got there (still referring to the scene in the trailer) last season, that wasn’t the point." For her, last season they “lived up to the tagline, ‘fear the dead and fight the living,’ and this season there are threats from within, threats from without and there are walkers in both worlds."
Walkers in both worlds? I’m not sure anybody at the table understood exactly what that meant and when asked to clarify, Hurd simply said, "there is no safety in the world of the humans and the world of the dead." That clears is right up. I was picturing some kind of super zombie which shows how little sleep I was getting. Lincoln tries his best to weigh in without being too cryptic or getting himself in trouble. "I’m not allowed to say this but I’m going to try and say it in a really delicate way," he says, then mentioning that “there are things that I find horrifying when I read certain scripts this season that have nothing to do with conflict or zombies."
Lincoln describes what he’s read as “incredibly harrowing, frightening and horrifying," he said, before addressing the new threat almost head on with, “it’s something. It’s a departure in as much the pressure that’s put on the group is a new pressure. They’ve been very witty and very smart in adding that texture. That flavor. You know, the horror element back in the show." Scott Gimple also danced around the sensitive topic, adding that "there is a new threat introduced and it’s something, a force that you can’t just stab in the face. You can’t talk reason."
Robert Kirkman soon offered his thoughts on the Season 4 stakes, stating that it’s "possibly the most deadly threat that they’ve faced thus far. We’re really ramping it up and intensifying things." As far as what the ‘most deadly threat’ is, Kirkman explains that “they’re still going to be dealing with the zombies, they’re still very much a threat. They are still dealing with humans, they’re still very much a threat. Then there’s this new element thrown in, this new unseen force thrown in that’s going to be extremely dangerous." Now the force is unseen? But for how long?
Norman Reedus and Greg Nicotero finally give their answer but I don’t think it’s accurate, the former simply saying the word "Sharknado." Okay, so two words crammed together. Nicotero then jokes that the new threat is that "The Governor shows up and drops sharks on everyone." In all seriousness though, Nicotero probably gave the most detailed and direct answer, noting that they needed a new threat "because our group survived on the road for such a long time and they’ve become so proficient at killing walkers that we felt that that threat of them needs to be ever present."
Things were just getting too comfortable for the characters and they want the audience to have to deal with “the idea that our group could find themselves in the middle of a situation that they can’t handle." Delivering the closest thing that we get to an answer on the subject, Nicotero adds that "it was important to me that we also kept that threat viable and the writers came up with a really great, several great devices storytelling wise, that sort of take it to the next level. A metamorphosis of what we’ve come to learn over the last three seasons." And then he closed with "you’ll find out by the end of the first episode." Two and a half months is a long time to wait!
The Walking Dead Season 4 premieres with "30 Days Without An Accident" on Sunday, October 13 at 9:00 p.m. ET on AMC. The series stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, David Morrissey, Chad Coleman and Scott Wilson.