It’s been a long wait between attacks on The Walking Dead, but more skull-bashing finally takes place on Sunday when the third season of this AMC smash kicks - slices? - off.
In the wake Shane's death at the hands of Carl, Rick and company will be seeking another safe haven on the opener, "Seed."
At last week’s Walking Dead press junket, TV Fanatic’s Jim Halterman grabbed some time with cast members Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies and David Morrisey, along with Executive Producers Gale Anne Hurd and Greg Nicotero. Read to find out what’s new, what’s scary and what’s coming up on this gory thriller...
Where do we pick up?
“We jump forward in time," Lincoln said, adding of Rick and Laurie and the latter's pregnancy: "We’re in the worst place that we’ve been in pre-Apocalypse. I think it’s caused this possibly irrevocable rift between the two of them, although there is some movement certainly in the first episodes that they’re trying for the sake of the group and themselves."
Callies explained the nuances of one of the bigger emotional moments last season after Shane had been killed and how that led to this divide.
“What’s gone wrong between them is not that I told him to watch his back and he killed Shane. I think we were very clearly on the same page that that happened and that had to happen. In some ways that was a big success, right? I warned my husband that someone was going to try to kill him, he tried to kill him and the right man came out of the fight. But then he tells me ‘I wanted him dead’ and I recoil from him instead of embracing him and making him feel safe.”
The bottom line of Laurie’s fear with what transpired? Says Callies:
“This is a couple that’s heartbroken because she’s afraid that he has turned into Shane by killing him. He needed her in that moment to just say ‘You’re a good man. I forgive you and I love you.’ And she, instead, backed off.”
Like some of our favorite lead characters on television – Walter White on Breaking Bad comes to mind – Rick has clearly changed since the first episode aired in 2010.
“That was one of the things that attracted me to the role,” Lincoln said, “is the fact that [Rick] goes on this extraordinary journey, this deterioration and this huge change because of the environment and everything that happens to him. That was a huge attraction as to why I wanted to play the role.”
The British actor is aware that Rick is not the only one going through massive changes in the apocalyptic world: “I think it’s just all of the characters, not just him. It’s always that thing, how do you try to describe this thing that is this. What is it? What’s the alchemy? I wish I knew.”
Rick and Laurie may be having some big issues, but Lincoln and Callies easily agreed on one thing – the powerful story viewers will see this season with their on-screen son, Carl, played by Chandler Riggs. Lincoln, shaking his head in disbelief, teased how “his story is the story I’m most fascinated by this year.”
Callies added that Carl’s issues are justifiable. Consider: “Children really can adapt themselves to almost any circumstance, except for the divorce of their parents. There’s something, I think, to be said that nothing that has happened [like] killing Shane as a zombie, feeling responsible for Dale’s death, seeing Sophia die... yet nothing has been harder on him than seeing his parents effectively separate, which is more or less what’s happened.”
Another new element in the opener is that our group of zombie fighters is working together like a well-oiled team. We’ll see the characters “a lot more intimate in regards to the hand to hand combat," Nicotero previewed. "They’ve become much more proficient in using baseball bats, crow bars, axes and things because you run out of ammunition and you’re dead so that inherent quality of it being more intimate in terms of having to fight for your survival ups the ante instantly.”
Finally, one of the more highly-anticipated debuts is that of The Governor, played by David Morrisey. However, as the actor stated during the junket, comic book fans won’t see the same character as they saw in the books.
“It’s important to say that the Governor in the comic books…he arrives fully formed, he’s there, he’s sadistic, he’s quite out there, he’s quite an evil guy," Morrisey said. "My Governor is not like that. You arrive with him much more as a leader, someone who’s caring for his community, someone who has humanity about himself. But you, as the audience, get to know him as well in a different way because he has private moments with the audience.”
But does the Governor have the same survival objective as Rick and his group?
“It’s about survival but it’s also about beginning. I think that he’s looking at how we can begin again as a human race, how we can begin again and how we can function in this world. The town that he’s created has a medical center, it has a school. It’s about that. It’s about starting again and how we start, it’s not just hand-to-mouth survival. He actually has a plan about how we cultivate the race and make it work into the future.”
And while there is sure to be some adversarial clashing between Rick and The Governor, is the Governor truly this season’s big bad?
“It’s interesting that term,” said Morrisey. “Because I think that’s what people put on other people when they don’t agree with their actions. I think he would see himself as doing everything he can in order to secure his town and his people and make sure that he’s safe and that calls for some very tough decisions. I think any leaders that we have we look at them and say ‘he’s doing things that I could never do.’ That’s what the governor does. He does things that I think people will see and they probably won’t agree with it and they think it’s bad or sadistic but he would say it’s all necessary in a sense of security for his own place. I think that’s what makes him ever more dangerous. That he can justify it. He’s not a loose cannon. He’s not doing it because he’s a monster doing it. He’s doing it for other reasons.”
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC. Visit TV Fanatic immediately following the premiere for a detailed review.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.