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Four and a half seasons into The Walking Dead, if fans aren't expecting "brutal" and "emotional" from the AMC zombie drama, they really haven't been paying attention. And yet, by the comments from series star Andrew Lincoln, it sounds as though TWD's aiming to top itself in the second half of Season 5. He describes the series' next two episodes as being "brutal" and "incredibly emotional."

When speaking to EW about the return of The Walking Dead, Lincoln spoke enthusiastically about what's coming up, but make no mistake, his words appear to be as much a warning as they are a bit of hype for the show's comeback...
Be prepared - I think Episodes 9 and 10 are two of my favorite. They're brutal, they're incredibly emotional and I think there'll be a lot of surprises along the way.

Andrew Lincoln made the comment after talking about how the back eight episodes of Season 5 are his favorite back eight since the beginning of the show...
Mainly because it's almost like a reset, what happens. We get to reimagine and sort of dial back some of the characters. And we meet so many new people. It's just a wild sort of rabbit hole that we all go down, and I think the storytelling is phenomenal.

It's hardly a spoiler to suggest that the next two episodes will be emotional.

(Actual spoilers ahead if you're not caught up on the first half of Season 5!).

The fifth season's mid-season finale left off with the heartbreaking death of Beth, who was shot in the head. Her death and the events leading up to it was more proof that there really is no such thing as a safe haven in The Walking Dead's zombie-plagued reality, not even at a hospital.

How will Beth's death impact Rick and his group as they attempt to move forward? That answer may account for most, if not all, of the "emotional" side of things. But where does the "brutal" factor in? The obvious answer might be that walking corpses will try to attack and eat the characters. Because that happens. But the living have proven to be even more dangerous than the dead, and brutality seems to be redefined on a regular basis in The Walking Dead, so there's really no way to know exactly what Lincoln's referring to when he mentions "brutal."

It's interesting that Lincoln brings up emotion and brutality, as those are two areas where The Walking Dead has continuously topped itself. One of the ways it does that is by constantly moving forward, both in its plot, its characters and the setting. The characters never stay put for very long, and perhaps even more importantly, the series isn't afraid to kill off a lead if the story calls for it. Not only do these major deaths demonstrate the harsh reality of the world in which this drama is set, but it opens the show up to add in new players and change the game. The series can continue to evolve, rather than hitting the rut that many dramas do around this time in their lifespans.

From what Andrew Lincoln says, it sounds like some changes are in store for some of the characters who will be "dialed back" and there will be "many new people" on the way.

The Walking Dead returns Sunday, February 8 at 9:00 p.m. ET on AMC. Check out the first two minutes of the mid-season premiere here.

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