The cast of The Walking Dead are like the rock stars of Comic-Con. They travel in a huge pack, they're followed by a large security detail, and fans flock to them with pens in hopes of snagging an autograph, rather than just gawking from a distance. I wouldn't be surprised if their hotel rooms don't have televisions and there's a pile of ash where the bed used to be. But you know what else? They're cool.
And so it was with humor that we took the limited amount of information they could give us during their press room at Comic-Con. Yes, they've already filmed a large chunk of the upcoming Season 4 (debuting October 13), but the season is so shrouded in secrecy that more than half of their answers were some variation of, "I don't think we can talk about that," "We're not going to tell you," or "You know I can't answer that." Fine with me, I don't need any spoilers ruining my fall.
But there was one major tidbit that kept popping up, about a core piece of The Walking Dead's first season under new showrunner Scott M. Gimple. We just don't know what it is. "By the end of the first episode [of Season 4] we introduce a new threat," said executive producer and gore-maker extraordinaire Greg Nicotero. "It's really the one episode in the entire season where there's a little bit of lightheartedness and then the shit hits the fan, so to speak. It doesn't last very long, it's like 44 minutes and then we're kind of into it."
Okay, but what is this threat?
"It's a new threat," Gimple stated. "It's something we haven't seen before. You can't stab it in the face, you can't reason with it. It's a force that would be dangerous in this world, and in the world of The Walking Dead, it's terrifying." Okay but what is this threat?
"There's a new threat that can't be killed," teased Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie. Okay, but what is this threat? A poisoned water supply? Global warming? Zombie ghosts? Ghost zombies? It's something the cast kept their lips tight on, but it's something that's going to be huge, according to all of them. I'm just going to assume that it's the spirit of T-Dog, and he's angry about not getting enough dialogue. Whatever it is, we'll at least find out about it quickly in the new season.
Another major addition to Season 4 are the new prison residents, courtesy of Rick letting the rejects from Woodbury crash at his place. That's going to cause some new problems (and provide a ton of redshirts for zombies to snack on), mostly with how the group is run. Rick will be focusing more on being a father, according to actor Andrew Lincoln, and the responsibilities of keeping things in order will fall to the group as a whole. The Ricktatorship is over, and democracy will rule.
There were specific call-outs to Daryl, Michonne, and RIck having some pretty interesting storylines this season, but two characters will get even better material. Without going into specifics (there were very few specifics), David Morrissey said of his Governor, "There's an element of what he does at the end of Season 3 that he wears very heavily, he doesn't carry it lightly, he can't wash that off. He has to have a real turning point in him. He was a man who realized there was a switch that went off in his head. And even though he's done terrible things in Season 3, that particular thing ramped him up to somewhere else. He was out of control, and I think that's a very worrying thing for him, that switch that takes him to a dark place." And he said all that in his awesome David Morrissey voice, which made it sound extra spooky. But as far as learning which side of sanity this broken man lands on, we'll have to just wait.
The other character getting a cast favorite story is *drumroll* Carl. "Carl got a lot of flack, and now I guarantee that at the end of the season, people will be so pro-Carl," said Norman Reedus, who plays fan favorite Daryl Dixon. I can't wait for Carl to get his due, and I think we saw a lot of him change for the better in Season 3. He's Little Ass Kicker's big brother, he better start getting better, right?
And because this is The Walking Dead, people will die. But it was stressed that character deaths were there to serve the story. "We're not throwing a death out just to have a shocking death," said Nicotero. "They're really grounded. I miss Laurie Holden (Andrea) and I wish she was still around because I think there was a lot more that we could have done with her character. I feel like the end of Season 3, her character got a little lost and I wanted to see her around more and rejoin our group. [Scott Gimple] is really thoughtful about those moments." I guess that's an indication that Andrea's death will resonate in Season 4.
"We don't do it for shock value," said executive producer Gale Anne Hurd. "I think the mistake a lot of shows make is, 'Oh my goodness, we haven't done anything shocking, let's just do something shocking!' If it isn't an organic evolution driven by characters with the results affecting the characters [then we don't want it.] A lot of people said, 'Andrea didn't die in the comic, why are you killing her?' Well, the impact she had you can see it already. In the season finale, when Rick decides to being the Woodburyites in, that wouldn't have happened before."
Just make sure it isn't Daryl you're killing, The Walking Dead. Or the internet will explode.
And just in case you missed it before, here's the trailer that was unveiled during the panel.