The Walking Dead Season 4 just started, but we’re already projecting our minds into the writers’ room to see where they might take us by next spring’s finale. Could we come across the Hunters, a group of cannibal survivors featured in the comic books? Maybe.
Some future event clues have already been dropped, including the recent announcement of three comic book characters joining the show later this season — Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos) and Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt). The three newbies are characters Rick’s group (the survivors, anyway) come across after they leave the prison, and they head on the road together to Washington, D.C.
"We're going to tell a version of the Eugene, Abraham and Rosita comic stories, that's what we do," showrunner Scott Gimple told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that there will be differences between the comic and TV versions, as usual. "We're going to get to those characters in a bit but before that, we're going to be exploring a lot of different locations," Scott said. "We're at the prison the first two episodes. We start looking at other places in Episode 3 on but that isn't even tied with them yet."
So we have them in mind for later, but we know they’re already past the mid-season finale (Episode 8) and back-half premiere (Episode 9) in terms of filming, so we may not see that road trip for a while, if they even go for the D.C. storyline. TVLine recently shared a spoiler on Episode 9, which we should see in February 2014. According to Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes), it’s a big showcase for Chandler Riggs’ Carl Grimes. “[Carl] does something this season…. Man,” Andy teased, laughing. “Episode 9 is his episode. It’s so cool.”
Maybe Carl’s cool moment is still at the prison, but it could also be tied to the new survivors and heading on the road. In the comics, after the final Woodbury assault on the prison, Rick’s group goes back to Hershel’s farm for a while, and that’s where they meet Abraham and company. Then Rick, Abraham, and Carl make a detour to Rick’s hometown of Cynthiana, Kentucky to check on Morgan. In the night, they are ambushed by bandits, and one tries to rape Carl. Rick and Abraham free themselves and then Rick brutally kills the one holding Carl. Maybe they do a version of this scene and Carl is the one who gets the jump on the guy who tried to hurt him?
Anyway, after that they meet the Hunters. Rick, Carl, and Abraham reunite with the others on the road to D.C. and the group runs into Father Gabriel, who says he can lead them to a church nearby for sanctuary. Dale, who is alive at this point in the comics, goes missing and Rick forms a search party to find him. They notice someone is watching them from the woods, and it turns out to be the Hunters.
Rick finds Chris, the leader of the Hunters, and it turns out they were the ones who took Dale. Chris told Rick they first started surviving on normal food supplies, but when that became scarce they became cannibals — figuring it was easier to kill loners or small groups of humans than hunting animals — and eventually they even ate their own children. When the Hunters were eventually cornered by Rick’s group, Chris begged for their lives. But instead, Rick’s group killed them in a bloody massacre. It was considered a major turning point for the hardened group.
One of things things The Powers The Be keep talking about this season is the idea of coming back from the terrible things you do. “Can we ever come back from the horrors that we see or perpetrate?” Andrew Lincoln (Rick) said. “Can we return to the people we once were?” Maybe this is one of those things, or maybe it refers to dark things happening back in the prison. It could be we won’t even meet the Hunters in Season 4, but it’s something to keep in mind for later.
Do you think the Hunters will make an appearance this season?
The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 2: “Infected” airs this Sunday, October 20 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.