If you are in The Walking Dead withdrawal, creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman offered some hints about what's going to happen when the hit series resumes on February 9.
In case you tuned in late — or not at all — to the most popular cable television show in America, The Walking Dead, based on a series of graphic novels by Kirkman, follows a small group of survivors who are led by Georgia Sheriff Rick Grimes (British actor Andrew Lincoln) in a quest to try to find a safe haven far away from virulent zombie-cannibal "walkers," a.k.a. "biters." Some of the humans that the good guys encounter along the way are also equally dangerous as the flesh-eaters. In the context of the series, the "walking dead" may also describe the humans who are all infected with the virus in its dormant stage and who "turn" upon dying unless they are stabbed in the brain.
The Walking Dead is a huge part of the AMC network's powerhouse Sunday night franchise which also includes the recently concluded Breaking Bad and the soon-to-end Mad Men.
In the shocking and bloody mid-season finale on December 1, Hershel (Scott Wilson), the spiritual/philosophical leader of the group, was beheaded by the bad guy Governor (David Morrissey), who in turn was done in by sword-wielding Michonne (Dani Gurira) and -- for good measure -- was shot by his new girlfriend Lilly (Audrey Marie Anderson). The survivors found themselves separated and scattered to the far winds after the Governor's attack on their former prison sanctuary.
Producer Gale Anne Hurd has claimed that the mid-season hiatus was because the cast and crew needed a moment to collect their thoughts and step back from the show before diving head-first into the season's final episodes. That may be true to some degree, but economics and other factors may play a role as well. Everyone involved in the show is effectively sworn to secrecy, but star Lincoln said earlier this month that the back half of season 4 is very "radical" and "controversial."
It has already been reported that new characters will be joining the cast in the back half of this season's episodes.
In a recent interview, Robert Kirkman among other things dropped some hints as to what is in store for fans in the remaining eight episodes of season 4 of The Walking Dead. For one, the survivors will be stuck out in the wild for some time and may not be reunited quickly, he suggested. "We're going to be going into some very interesting places with all of these characters and seeing new sides to all of them as they figure out how to survive. Been a while since these people have been out on the road and out in the open; they're very different people at this point. The events in the upcoming episodes are going to change them that much more, which I think will make the show a lot cooler, more dangerous and more exciting."
Although Kirkman tends to be cryptic about plot threads, he also acknowledged that because the group has fled in different directions, there will be more stand-alone episodes, similar to the focus on the Governor in the first half of the season: "There will be a lot of different formats at work here because everyone is separate, we will be telling their stories individually. We will be playing with the format quite a bit. There will be different kind of episodes that will make up the back half of the season."
As far as the status of the missing baby Judith and her bloody car seat, Kirkman observed, "We are keeping that as a mystery that will be revealed in the back half. That blood had to come from somewhere and I certainly wouldn't feel too comfortable about the status of that baby."
AMC has already renewed The Walking Dead for a fifth season and is planning a spin-off based in another part of the country.
After this appetizer, so to speak, are you looking forward to the return of The Walking Dead in February?
[image credit: Gage Skidmore]