The producers of The Walking Dead announced today their zombie show has a return date: on Sunday, October 14th, we'll return to the post-apocalyptic South for another round with Rick and his fellow survivors. And this time, they'll be joined by katana-wielding Michonne and the nefarious Governor of Woodbury. Today at the San Diego Comic-Con Walking Dead panel, we got to see a trailer for the next season, and see those new characters as well as the return of a familiar face. Spoilers ahead.
Walking Dead comic creator Robert Kirkman along with makeup designer Greg Nicotero, producers Dave Alpert and Gale Anne Hurd, and show runner Glen Mazzara, and cast members Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes), Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori Grimes), Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon), Laurie Holden (Andrea), Steven Yeun (Glenn), and Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene), along with series newcomers Danai Gurira (Michonne) and David Morrissey (The Governor).
Alpert says that this season they will be "putting the foot on the accelerator," keeping up the pace from the end of Season 2. So how much torture will the characters be going through, and how close will it come to the books? Mazzara says they'll be "true to the spirit of the comic" in that the show will be raw and visceral. They'll be trying to make people bond with these characters, so that "when you see incredible stuff happen to them, it's scary and it hurts."
Designer Greg Nicotero says that the zombies are becoming more emaciated and hungrier, and the designs will reflect that. He's also planning on using more animatronics and ramping up the decomposition of the zombies.
Then we got a sneak peek at the next season in the form of an extended trailer. The trailer picks up where the last season left off. Andrea is still out in the woods with Michonne, still accompanied by Michonne's zombies. And yes, we get a nice katana head-split. Eventually, they spot a helicopter in the distance, and that helicopter eventually crashes. Rick and the rest of his clue are still exposed outside, but everyone looks to be on friendly terms after the events at the farm. Between flashes of the prison and flashes of the survivors clearing the prison, Rick says, into the night, "I know we're exhausted, but we have to push a little bit more. Weapons, food, medicine. We have to go in there hand-to-hand. This prison is ours."
Michonne and Andrea are captured and taken into Woodbury. Michonne demands their weapons back, and the Governor's voice says, "Two against the world. That's long odds. You're not prisoners here. You're guests." The doors open up on a well lit outdoor area. The camera swings around, and we see the Governor's face. This isn't the long-haired, mustached Governor. This fellow is much more clean-cut, a bit more charming. We see Andrea and Michonne walking around Woodbury, which looks clean and well-kept. Michonne tells Andrea, "I don't trust him." But the Governor seems intent on winning them over. Andrea tells the Governor that she was with more survivors, and after we see the other survivors moving into a cleared cellblock, it becomes clear that the Governor is going to confront Rick and try to take the prison. The Governor tells his minions that they are going to take what's theirs. We get more shots of Team Rick clearing the prison of zombies (looks like a lot more zombies this season), and more scenes that set up this Woodbury/prison confrontation including Rick and the Governor meeting outside the prison fence, along with the tagline "Fear the living."
And then there's the highlight of the whole thing: Merle is back, and he's got a crazy knife prosthetic strapped over where his hand used to be. "How about a big hug for your old friend Merle?" he asks with a grin. Hello, Merle! That's a great zombie-killing hand you've got there.
So given that Merle is coming back, moderator and Talking Dead host Chris Hardwicke asksd, where does Norman Reedus think that Daryl is emotionally at this point? Reedus describes Daryl thus,"He's a guy that's under the thumb of his big brother Merle. Being away from Merle, he's finding himself needed and appreciated. He would fight to the death for these people."
Laurie Holden says she especially likes Andrea's arc this season because of her partnership with Michonne, "She's met this alpha female and they become very good friends and they watch each others' backs."
Steven Yeun says we'll get some payoff from Glen's growing up over the last two seasons, and that for Glen, Season 3 is about "manning up and doing what he's supposed to be doing."
The state of Team Rick has been described among the staff as a "Ricktatorship." Andrew Lincoln says that in developing Rick, he's been studying Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel The Road, and says that he sees Rick as a man who is gradually giving up his humanity to protect his family.
And what about our fearsome Governor? David Morrissey suspects that the Governor is not far off from a lot of people in an overwhelming situation, "We like to think of the best aspects of ourselves, but when you're put into a challenging situation, that's not always the case." The people in The Walking Dead are always being challenged, and their responses to their strange and deadly situation is sometimes extreme.