What happens now that Carl is a total sociopath? Will Glenn and Maggie's relationship stand the test of walkers and Woodbury? Will Michonne ever make another friend? The cast and crew of The Walking Dead at this weekend's Comic-Con panel talk about what changes are ahead for Season Four.
It's clear that the theme for Season Four is community. Andrew Lincoln promises that we'll learn exactly why Rick brought everyone back to the prison instead of heading to Woodbury, and explains that he's stepping back from his leadership position to focus on his family. "I think that the relationship with Carl is integral in this season," he says, "certainly for Rick. Him turning into a sociopath at the end of the season definitely woke him up to his parenting duties. You find Rick in a completely new place at the beginning of the season. He's trying to repress his brutality and he's renounced quite a lot of his responsibilities and leadership for the sake of his children."
That was also part of his motivation behind merging his group with the Woodbury survivors. "I think what happened to Andrea combined with what happened to my son, Carl, was the catalyst to bring Rick to that point. He realized that the brutality of pushing people away really wasn't working for him. It's been sort of cataclysmic for his family. When we meet them all in Season Four, there is a whole new community in the prison and an incredible friendship and tension between certain characters. And it's made for some incredible character-driven scenes."
Michonne will also be settling more into the group dynamic this season. "I think the great thing is that she actually started to become part of the community," says Danai Gurira. "The thing that Andrea leaves with her as she's dying is that, 'It's great that you found them. You found a group of people, the people that I spoke to you about, that I trusted myself with.' I think that was point between them that affirmed that Michonne is in the right place." Michonne may start reopening parts of herself that she has long closed of, but Gurira promises that she will still be the badass walker slayer we know and love.
But if there's one character that already understands the value of community, it's Daryl. Norman Reedus says, "When I went over the script with Merle dying, I thought, 'Man, this day's going to suck.' But the thing is, he was sort of doomed to become mini-Merle. I wanted to play him embarrassed that he grew up that he's racist, that he takes drugs. Without Merle around, he can find this sense of self-worth that he wouldn't have found if this violence didn't happen. So the relationships he has with these people is the glue that keeps him there. He doesn't need to be there. He can hunt. He can find his own food. He can protect himself. He has these people, this family that he never had before. He's grown up."
Meanwhile, Chad L. Coleman says Tyreese is still finding his place within the group. "Tyreese is still trying to find out how he fits in, and what are the rules of engagement in this dilapidated world we're living in. And how to negotiate his place and his family and how to negotiate the outside world that's crashing in. So I think he's still trying to find out." He adds, "I don't get the sense that he's gratuitous violence. I sense that he really needs a strong reasoning behind why he does what he does, but this world won't let him operate that way. No one escapes unscathed and eventually a can of whoop-ass might get popped on him."
For Maggie and Glenn, it's not just about getting closer to a larger group, but getting closer to each other as well. After Maggie's frightening encounter with the Governor in Woodbury, Lauren Cohan says, "I think that Maggie wanted to move on a little faster than you [gesturing to Steven Yeun], the way that women do. And it's been kind of living in the moment and to not spoil what they have by the vengeance or the regret. And interestingly, all that from the Governor and all the torture and challenges that they went through last year have propelled a whole new journey for her this year. It was a very good springboard for a stronger cat."
Is their relationship essential to their survival? "I think it's a choice," Cohan says. "I think it's a definite choice and I think Maggie and Glenn have let it test their relationship. And I think when we see them again this season, we'll see that it's something that strengthens them."
But the shadow of the Governor still looms, especially since we don't know where he is these days. "He is still out there," Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman assures us, "and how he returns, when he returns, and what he's doing when he returns is going to be a pretty big mystery this season."
David Morrissey, for his part, is still reluctant to consider the Governor a villain. "I think at the end of last season, he was in a very dark place and he did some bad things, turned on his own people. But he feels like they betrayed him and that's just not going to go down well with the Governor. So he just has to take it in hand. But he went off with two of them; he didn't kill them all. You have to give him credit for that."
But there may be an interior journey ahead for the Governor. "I think even in [episode] 316, we saw the immediate aftermath of what he did. It was a very spontaneous action. It was like he was into trauma." He gestures at his head. "Something switched. It's not like he was a rational man before that. He's thwarted in his desires, desires to take the prison, and he sees his soldiers running away and turning their back on him, and a switch goes off in his head. And I think we see him dealing with what the switch is, what is it in him that makes that switch go down and deal with that."
At least one character has very simple needs, though. Of Hershel, Scott Wilson says, "I think at this point, he just wants to hold on to his other leg." Although he also adds, "I think the whole group is so interconnected, so dependent on each other. It's really wonderful to see what everyone does with that. So he has a part in that, and I'm happy to continue to do that until whatever happens."
If you haven't seen the phenomenal four-minute season 4 preview, make sure to check it out here!