“The Walking Dead” wrapped up its second season with the death toll mounting. This season saw the demise of little Sophia (Madison Lintz), Shane (Jon Bernthal), and Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), among others. But then, in the finale, the farm became infested with walkers and it was clear that more deaths were soon to come.
Despite all the preparations to make the farmhouse a stronghold, the Grimes gang changed their plans and ended up staying out in the open, killing as many walkers as they could, before taking off for parts unknown. But sad to say, neither Jimmy (James Allen McCune) nor Patricia (Jane McNeill), whose death was incredibly gruesome, wound up making the journey with them.
With no safe haven in sight, the gang was on the road together — with the exception of Andrea (Laurie Holden) — who got separated and almost met her death — but who was saved at the last second when new cast member Michonne (Danai Gurira) Samurai-ed off the head of the walker who was going to make her a meal.
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So what can we expect when Season 3 premieres on Sunday, Oct. 14? “We hit the ground running, and it is going to be surprising to people,” Showrunner and executive producer Glen Mazzara tells XfinityTV.com. “The audience is going to have to catch up and figure out what this actually all means. Hopefully, that is a mysterious enough tease for you, but I think the audience is going to realize we are back in a big way.”
“Intense is a perfect word for what is going to happen this season, both in terms of the drama and the character interaction,” adds executive producer Gale Anne Hurd.
So before the new season begins, XfinityTV.com caught up with the producers and cast of the hit AMC zombie show to find out what we have to look forward to in Season 3.
Where do we pick up the story: Definitely some time has passed. We come upon our group surviving out in the wild. We will see them moving from place to place, which is sort of where we left off. “The first five minutes is a very, very important five minutes,” says Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes. “It is a very clever thing that they have done, but that is all that we can say. It is a quiet four minutes. It is a brilliant teaser. It tells so much about the emotional and real state of the group with no dialogue. You learn everything you need to know visually. It is very bold and smart.”
“What we can say is you see who we have become as a result of the loss of those people — Shane and Dale,” says Sarah Wayne Callies, who plays Lori Grimes. “One was a very significant force in fracturing people; the other put us back together, so we have had to recalibrate.”
There were significant cast members who died in Season 2. Can “The Walking Dead” continue to do that without decimating the cast too much? Sophia, Shane and Dale, as previously mentioned, were just three of the cast members who were killed off during the season — but they were all important to the audience, who took their deaths hard. Shane maybe not as much as the others because he wasn’t really a good guy anymore, but, still, he was someone we could love to hate.
“It is something we take very seriously,” Mazarra says of the deaths. “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.”
How will the dynamic of the group change? In the finale, Rick admitted to killing Shane — even though it appeared to be a case of kill or be killed — so the dynamic of the group is different. At the same time that he was looking for forgiveness, Rick did seem to get some cojones and commented that the Grimes gang was no longer a democracy — especially since everyone seems to be looking to him for leadership.
“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,” says Callies. Then she adds, “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?”
Season 3′s setting will be a prison: Following the story set by the graphic novel on which the TV series is based, Season 3 will move the Grimes gang from out in the wilderness to inside the walls of a prison.
“That prison is like a haunted house,” says Mazzara, who adds that it is his favorite TV set of all the years he has worked in the medium. “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.”
New and returning characters: Again, following the blueprint of the graphic novel, Season 3 will add two new characters — the Governor (David Morrissey), who will be introduced early and rules his people with an iron hand, and, Michonne, who we met, but didn’t see her face in the Season 2 finale.
“I think he believes what he is doing is for a good cause,” Morrissey says of the Governor. “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.”
As for Michonene, Gurira says, “I think there are a lot of tough girls that fall into aspects of how Michonne has steeled herself. 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.”
Season 3 also sees the return of Merle Dixon: When we last saw Merle (Michael Rooker) alive, he had been handcuffed to a pipe on the roof of a building in Atlanta and the keys were out of his reach. His companions fled — promising to return — but by the time they got back, it looked as if the zombies had gotten him.
“He wants to see his big brother,” says Norman Reedus, who plays little brother Daryl 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.”
“The Walking Dead” Season 3 premieres Sunday, October 14 at 9/8c on AMC.