After what seems like an endless break, “The Walking Dead” is coming back from its second season hiatus on Sunday, February 12 at 10 pm Eastern. The show is coming back as AMC’s most-watched show, but it’s not coming back without a ton of questions attached to it, especially after the first half of the season was criticized by critics and viewers alike as being slow and talky, severely lacking in zombie attack madness.
There’s also the matter of the change of showrunners, from Frank Darabont to Glen Mazzara. While Mazzara told us last month that people shouldn’t look at the first half as Darabont’s episode and the second half as his, the second half is where his influence will be seen the most.
Mazzara seems to be working well with the cast, as Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl, told us last month at the TCA press tour. “Glen came in and said “I was very happy where I was’ [as the show's second-in-command] and he said he’d have an open door policy, and it made all the actors stay together and try harder and it works. And Glen’s done an amazing job. It’s great. He’s honest with us.”
Between talking to Mazzara, creator Robert Kirkman, and some of the actors, we’re looking forward to the second half for a few different reasons:
Less talking, more whacking. Mazzara and Kirkman told us last month that the action will be ratcheted up, even though the gang escaping from the walkers may still stay at Hershel Greene’s (Scott Wilson) farm. “I think season two kicks in with a lot less talking and a lot more bashing in a big big way,” said Reedus. But he supported the talky first half: “You have to talk in order to set up the story. You have to have that. I don’t think the show’s ever been about zombies; it’s been about people who would never get along trying to get along in this amazing circumstance.”
During the same roundtable, Melissa McBride — who plays Carol, whose daughter Sophia came out of the barn as a walker in the mid-season finale – feels there was balance in the first half, but seems to be happy that there’s more action. “You’ve got so much story, you want to balance it out by smashing some heads, too. I think they’re doing a really good job.” Reedus agrees, saying “bashing zombie heads is fun.”
More dangers from more places. The mid-season premiere introduces an element of danger that we haven’t seen in a long time — other people. “It was definitely visited upon in the first season and kind of amicably tied up,” said Steven Yeun, who plays young refugee Glenn. “It’s always been looming, just hasn’t been out in the forefront. I think that’s what makes this show so interesting and fun, is that how many times can you screw these people over?”
Loyalties will be tested. We already know that people are lining up behind survive-at-any-cost Shane (Jon Bernthal) and let’s-be-rational Rick (Andrew Lincoln). According to Reedus, we’ll see more of that. “It’s bad decision after bad decision. A lot of us splinter off and question our loyalties a lot.”
It feels like Shane will have a pivotal role, given what we were told by Mazarra last month: “I’d say they’re both dangerous people off the farm and dangerous people already on the farm.”
Daryl and Carol, sitting in a tree…? McBride feels that Carol will change in the face of Sophia’s demise. “Carol will stand up for herself a little bit in dealing with the reality of Sophia’s death, and finding someone to take care of.” When asked if that means Daryl, she replied, “She’s looking out for Daryl for sure. He’s having a harder time with her loss; he’s handling it differently.”
Reedus doesn’t say that the pair will be making out like Glenn and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), but that the relationship will be more like “It’s more like damaged people gravitating towards damaged people and finding like-minded things.”
Glenn asserts himself, and has to make a choice. Speaking of the young lovebirds, Yeun said that Glenn’s going to have some interesting choices to make there. “It’s now becoming an interesting crossroads, an interesting look into what that relationship does to him along the standpoint of does he go with the group, or does he stay with Maggie? It’s up in the air.”
However, Glenn knows that he has to step up in other ways. “He was really willing to listen to ideas. That well idea [when Glenn was lowered in as "walker bait"] was stupid, but why does Glenn say yes? Because he doesn’t have the balls to say this is a stupid idea. But he’s still willing to do what he thinks is right, and if he can help he will. ” he said.
“I think it’ll be that change where he sees that some decisions aren’t so black and white by virtue of looking at someone you admire. It’s not always Rick and Shane to look up to in terms of what to do in situations. Make your own decisions and live by them.”