The Walking Dead doesn't return from its mid-season hiatus until February 9, but speculation is rife for what will happen in the back half of season 4.
In the mood for some spoilers?
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 Robert 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 or shot in the brain.
The Walking Dead is a huge part of the AMC network's powerhouse Sunday night franchise which also includes (or perhaps more precisely included) the recently wrapped Breaking Bad and the soon-to-end Mad Men.
With the survivors scattered to the four winds after the Governor's attack on the prison, Kirkman has previously hinted that the now-divided group will be on the road for some time and may not be reunited quickly. He also acknowledged that there might be more stand-alone episodes that focus on one character (similar to the Governor's two-episode arc) as a result.
Series star Lincoln said last month that the back half of season 4 is very "radical" and "controversial."
As a slight digression, if the producers are reading this, please ask the actors to speak up. The stage-whispering or mumbling of lines -- perhaps for dramatic effect -- is getting to the point where watching the show with subtitles is becoming necessary.
In a recent interview, showrunner Scott Gimple admitted that next eight episodes of The Walking Dead will be a thematic departure from what has come before, possibly including flashbacks:
"The back half of the season has a wildly different structure to it. It's a very different set of stories, and it's very unlike the first half of the season. I can't say without giving stuff up, but it's very different. The same story priorities apply; there's a lot of character exploration but in a very different way. In some ways, the story moves quicker but in a really different manner. As soon as you see the first episode, you'll figure out why and how. Episode 10 [the second one in February] has a super unusual structure that I'm very excited for people to see. It's very different than the first half."
As far as the overlap, or not, with the events portrayed in the comic, Gimple said that "There's going to be a lot of familiar stuff, brand-new stuff and remixed stuff. There are some things where you will totally know them and hopefully be expecting them, and then there will be stuff that's brand-new that you have no idea if it's coming but it will circle around to moments from the comic."
Gimple also revealed that the banished Carol (Melissa McBride) will reappear "sooner or later" in season 4. For Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Beth (Emily Kinney), in addition to new physical surroundings, they will move "into very uncharted emotional waters" because of the death of their dad Hershel (Scott Wilson). We'll also finally find out who was feeding rats to the zombies at the prison fence.
In a separate set of Walking Dead spoilers, the ComicBook.com website claims that as far as stand-alone episodes, both Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) will carry at least one episode by themselves. Also, one of the main cast members who is still alive in the comic book will be killed off by season's end in a "real shocker."
Season 4 spoilers or not, are you looking forward to the return of The Walking Dead?