In an interview with Comcast's Xfinity blog, the cast and crew of AMC's smash hit zombie drama The Walking Dead have dropped a number of hints and teases about what to expect from the new season, which starts in less than two weeks.
“That prison is like a haunted house,” says executive producer Glen Mazzara of the setting which was often criticized by comic book fans as a little too homey. “There are challenges within that prison. It is not necessarily as safe as everybody thinks. That is something our group has to take and there is sacrifice involved in that. Then there is also the aesthetic of the show. We wanted to build something that was as gritty and realistic as possible. This is not a sleek, polished prison. It is scary. It feels real. Sometimes people say, ‘Can’t we shoot this outside, because it is so depressing inside.’ It very much fits the gritty aesthetic the fans have come to expect.”
Character development, too, was a topic of conversation, with Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori, one of the fans' least favorite characters), Danai Gurira (Michonne, one of the favorites) and David Morrissey (The Governor) all chiming in on what makes their characters tick.
“I think a bomb went off in the marriage and it became two people who became so deeply entrenched in their own self-hatred that they couldn’t even trust one another. They are kind of the mom and dad of this group of people, I think the rift between them has pretty major implications for everyone else,” said Callies. “I think what the third season is about is these people have been on the run long enough and their resources are scarce. The biggest thing, even before you get to the walkers, is who gets the food, who gets the water, who gets safety? It is about those decisions among the living. Who deserves to survive? Who should be cast out?”
“I think he believes what he is doing is for a good cause,” Morrissey said of his character. “You can’t play evil. I have to empathize with my characters. I don’t have to agree with them, I don’t have to like them. but I have to understand what they are going through.”
“I think there are a lot of tough girls that fall into aspects of how Michonne has steeled herself," said Gurira. "Who would you be in a situation this dire? There is an interesting logic to me about who she becomes, considering the world she is in and the traumas she has endured. When you choose not to become a victim in a world this hostile, who she becomes, to me, is logical.”
Of course, one of the big questions of the new season isn't about new characters at all but about how an old character--namely Michael Rooker's Merle Dixon--will function once he meets back up with his old tribe and discovers that his brother Daryl remained with them after he believes they left him for dead.
“[Daryl] wants to see his big brother,” said Norman Reedus, who plays the younger Dixon. “Merle is going to come back and cause some trouble in this nice little world that I am in. A lot of people won’t like him. He is going to want revenge. At the same time, he is my kin. He is the last one left that I know of. He is definitely going to make an impact. He is a larger-than-life character.”
What kind of impact? Well, Mazzara wants to make sure that everyone knows they don't take deaths lightly but that anything can happen on The Walking Dead.
“It is something we take very seriously,” Mazzara told Comcast. “People become very close to these cast members. It is very difficult when you have to call an actor and say, ‘We are going to kill off your character.’ But we do what is right for the show and, I think, people do expect the fact that no one is safe. There is a version of this show where you say, ‘Oh, they are really not going to kill off that character.’ That happens a lot on TV. That is not this show. We make bold choices and we take it very seriously. It has to make sense for the story and give us some type of emotional new story for the survivors.”
If this show follows the arc of the comics, that will certainly happen for the just-announced season four. In all likelihood, unless AMC drastically alters the formula, a major character death will come with the end of season three and emotionally cripple some major characters.