Long live The Walking Dead Season 4! Check out our epic roundup below to find out what you can expect from everyone's favorite zombie drama.
FILMING & PREMIERE DATES: Season 4 filming began May 6 in Georgia. There will be 16 episodes (just like Season 3) and the premiere date was officially Sunday, October 13 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. They are doing the mid-season break thing again, and we're expecting the show to stop in early December with Episode 8, then pick back up again in February 2014 with Episode 9, but no official return date has been released yet.
FILMING LOCATIONS: TWD shoots in Georgia. We know that the cast recently shot in a cemetery and near some railroad tracks, but if you want to get more specific, check out Walking Dead Locations, which shares photos and filming updates.
NEW SHOWRUNNER: Glen Mazzara is gone, and Scott Gimple is the new guy. Here he is on Twitter, @ScottMGimple. If we’re all very nice to him, maybe he’ll share good info and photos from the set. If not, feed him to the walkers! Anyway, welcome to the top, Scott. Don’t let the crown weigh too heavily.
EPISODE 1 DETAILS: The premiere — written by new showrunner Scott M. Gimple and directed by Greg Nicotero — is called “30 Days Without an Accident.” Here's a lot more on the premiere itself.
EPISODE 2 DETAILS: Episode 2 is called "Infected" and here's the synopsis: “The group faces a new enemy; Rick and the others fight to protect their hard-won livelihood.” Expect a couple of big threats to emerge in this episode, including the one tied to Mother Nature, and another tied to someone sabotaging the prison for unknown reasons.
EPISODE 3 DETAILS: Episode 3 is called "Isolation" and here's the synopsis: "A group leaves the prison to search for supplies; the remaining members of the group deal with recent losses.” This is supply run shown in the Comic-Con preview (see below) where Michonne, Tyreese, Daryl and new guy Bob drive off and run into a huge herd of walkers. They also hear a radio clip talking about a "sanctuary." This is expecting to be a big episode for Tyreese, and he may be putting his hammer to use. Here's more on the episode.
EPISODE 4 DETAILS: Episode 4 is called “Indifference" and here's the synopsis: “The supply mission faces hurdles; the situation at the prison worsens.” Also, two survivors named Jack and Erin (unless those were just casting code names) will be added to the cast this week. According to TVLine, both are in their 20s and described as easygoing and “extremely thin.” However, “Jack’s a bit of a joker, while Erin walks through life with rose-colored glasses." Here's more on Episode 4.
EPISODE 5 DETAILS: Episode 5 is called "Internment" and here’s the synopsis: "Assorted enemies pressure Rick and the group; the survivors and the prison may reach a breaking point." Assorted enemies? Maybe whoever fed the rats to the walkers at the fence? Should we expect The Governor (David Morrissey) to make an appearance, with or without perhaps having a spy or two on the inside?
EPISODE 6 DETAILS: Episode 6 is called "Live Bait" and here's the synopsis: "Group members struggle to find their humanity while being constantly threatened." A while back, SpoilerTV said Episode 6 would be called “Rise,” with two new recurring characters showing up — “a single mother and former nurse named Laura and a tough and funny woman named Melody.” Also, expect to meet Don, a 50-70-year-old guy described as kind but sometimes grumpy, who has a granddaughter. SpoilerTV said actor Danny Vinson was cast as Don. Check out his filmography here. But now we're thinking "Rise" was a working title, and maybe a reference to the novel Rise of the Governor. It's possible those names are code for the Chalmers family, who are tied to The Governor's past. Since the synopsis for this ep is so vague and doesn't even mention Rick or the prison, we're thinking this one of the standalone Governor episodes. We know two episodes will feature The Gov, including flashbacks of where he's been. More on that theory here.
EPISODE 7 DETAILS: Episode 7 is called "Dead Weight" and here’s the synopsis: "Something new unfolds at a camp outside the prison; the addition of new members may threaten peace." A while back, SpoilerTV said two brothers around age 30 were being cast for this episode: “Mack is an aggressive wiseass and Patrick is fair-minded. Mack is recurring and Patrick is a guest role.” We're still thinking this is the second of the two Governor-centric episodes, but we shall see.
EPISODE 8 DETAILS: Episode 8 is called “Too Far Gone” and here’s the synopsis: "After things begin to calm at the prison, Rick and the group face imminent danger." This is the December 1 mid-season finale episode, and we’ve already heard a lot of great/scary things about it. Andrew Lincoln called it "the biggest thing we've attempted, I think, so far in our show." He said it's "an incredibly exciting episode" and he hinted to a lot of special effects and dynamite. He also said it included a "painful" scene for him to do, so expect some tragedy. We're still guessing this episode includes a major attack on the prison, led by The Governor and whoever may be on his side.
EPISODE 9 DETAILS: Episode 9 is the mid-season premiere, which will air in February 2014. All we know so far is that it was written by comic book writer Robert Kirkman, who said "Episode 9 will probably be the episode that’s closest to a direct adaptation from the comic book aside from the premiere episode." Andy Lincoln also added that it's a big episode for Chandler Riggs' Carl. "Episode 9 is his episode. It’s so cool."
LESS RUN & GUN: Executive producer Greg Nicotero teased Season 4 to Entertainment Weekly: “I think there may be a wee bit less of the run and gun. And [we'll] get a little more into some of our characters. The challenge with a show like this, when you have a big ensemble, is you don’t want any of the characters to get lost; it’s important that we know what Carol’s story is and that we know what Beth’s story is. And when you’re trying to service a lot of characters, it becomes challenging. Watching the first season of Walking Dead and seeing how grounded it was, that’s really important to all of us. Andy Lincoln and I spent a lot of time going through the scripts and making sure we feel that they’re grounded. Because that’s what keeps our audience coming back. The walkers and the gore and the action and stuff, that’s fun, that’s the popcorn part of it. But if you don’t have characters that people are invested in, you lose your audience."
MORE CHARACTER FOCUS, LIKE ON 'CLEAR': Kirkman echoed Nicotero's focus on characters for Season 4, telling Rolling Stone, "We're not going to slow things down, but if I had a criticism of Season 3, it would be that we didn't focus on character development. We're going to try to step it up a notch in that department." He used Season 3, Episode 12, "Clear" (the Morgan/road trip episode), as an example of the coming tone shift. "We're going to focus on fewer characters per episode."
TONS OF NEW CHARACTERS: Here's a roundup of some of the many new people we'll be meeting this season.
SOME KIND OF MILITARY CAMP AS NEW LOCATION? Walking Dead Locations has been posting photos from the Georgia sets, and they shared some photos of a location in Griffin, GA, which was used for filming on May 13. You can see what looks like a military camp, with tents and equipment, set up in an old Wal-Mart and Winn Dixie parking lot. A fan named Lindsey commented under the photos on May 13: "I got there this morning at 8am…I saw Daryl, Glenn, [Tyreese], Sasha, and [Michonne]! I was able to get a few pictures before the police got super strict. Can’t wait to see it on tv!" Robert Kirkman told TVLine, "We’re definitely going to start Season 4 at the prison. We may be there the whole season and we may not be…”
COMIC BOOK STUFF: Kirkman told Comic Book Resources Season 4 will keep moving in and out of the comics, as they've done in the past few seasons. "There's going to be a lot of things that fans recognize from the comics. It's going to be a lot of new elements pushed in, and it's going to make for a really good show like it always has been."
THE GOVERNOR WILL BE BACK: He disappeared at the end of Season 3, but he's not dead. He's a series regular. Norman Reedus told the Wall Street Journal, "I don’t think he’s reached his full Governorism yet, you know? I mean, the comic book villain is like the most hated comic-book villain, above the Joker. The biggest one ever. So I think he’s going to get meaner."
WHEN WILL THE GOVERNOR BE BACK? Kirkman told The Hollywood Reporter, “While The Governor is still out there and still a threat, we're going to see him in a new light and he won't appear until we least expect it. I don't think people are really going to be able to anticipate what we do with the Governor; it's going to be radically different. Once that story unfolds over the course of this season, people will see this is a very different story from Season 3 and we are breaking some new ground with these characters. [...] We might not really expect to see him in the first episode and he shows up in the first episode back. Or it would be pretty shocking if he didn't show up until the finale. It could be either/or or somewhere in between." We've been told to not expect him in the first two episodes, at least, but he will have standalone episodes of his own, with flashbacks to let us know where he's been. (We're guessing the standalone eps are Episode 6 and Episode 7, but ... who knows.)
MORE DANGEROUS ZOMBIES! Producer Gale Ann Hurd told Comic Book Resources the first eight episodes of Season 4 will remind us of the danger of zombies. "We are going to amp up the threat of the walkers, because they've started to seem like a manageable threat. They are not a manageable threat." Huzzah!
CRAZIEST WALKER KILL YET? Gale said to expect more “ravenous” walkers, since this is a world with fewer humans and more zombies. On that note, TWD’s props master John Sanders talked to AMC about some new weapons fans can look forward to on Season 4, and how they will be used to fight walkers. “My favorite implement will be this season,” John said. “I've been waiting for two years, trying to talk to [producer/special effects make-up designer] Greg Nicotero about doing this to a walker, and he saw it this year and just jumped on it. I can't really tell you what it is, but I can tell you it's going to be the craziest thing on the show, yet. What I can say is that walkers are going to get killed in newer ways this year than any other year before.”
GRUMBLINGS IN THE ATLANTA GROUP? Gale continued, “But, it is the people who you think you can trust who betray you, that you have to fear. It is the monster inside you. We all have them. How do we keep them in check?" CBR asked her to elaborate and she implied that someone from Rick's Atlanta/farm/prison group would turn on him. "You never know who is going to, you know, who is going to be the one who's had enough. Like, Shane saw Rick as a threat to their survival. He's not the only one who's going to have those feelings."
EXPECT VERY DIFFERENT SEASON: Robert Kirkman told The Hollywood Reporter, "It's going to be different in a lot of ways. We'll see a very different Rick Grimes for one. His experiences against the Governor and with the various things that happened to him in Season 3 are informing his character in huge ways. We'll see a lot of familiar elements from Season 3: we'll see the prison, Rick and his group are still in the same place but those elements are all going to be radically different. I can't really get into it but Season 4 is going to be extremely different than Season 3 in some very startling and cool ways."
RICK WON'T PUSH PEOPLE AWAY: Kirkman told THR, "This is the moment where Rick takes a turn; he's no longer going to be pushing people away, he's no longer going to be doing whatever he can to protect these people in ways that hurt other people. He's not going to be the guy who would leave that guy on the side of the road — the backpack guy in Episode 12. He's letting the people of Woodbury in and trying to tell Carl that these people are like us, you have to be open to this and the only way to survive in this world is to have people and be in a community. That's going to be a big part of Season 4."
TYREESE & RICK WILL GET CLOSE: Not close like that, but maybe close enough to make Daryl jealous? That's just our bromance love talking. Here's what Kirkman told IGN of Tyreese joining Rick's group as Rick reclaims his sanity: "Yeah, I think that really is something that comic book fans can use to kind of draw out some information on where we might be going with Season 4. Now that these two characters are together and are on the same side, we will see a little bit more of that comic book relationship that fans are familiar with creeping into the show."
ANDREA'S DEATH WILL MAKE MORE SENSE: Andrea died on the Season 3 finale, instead of keeping her alive for any number of alternate storylines. Kirkman told The Hollywood Reporter, "The unfortunate thing is that you're not really going to see why this was a good decision and good for the show until Season 4. We thought having that tragic end to her storyline — having [Andrea] work so hard to save these people of Woodbury and find a peaceful resolution to this conflict was really something worthy of the character. It's also something that changes Rick's mindset and alters a lot of the characters and their modes of operation moving into the fourth season. It seemed like the right thing to do at the right time."
ANDREA IN FLASHBACKS? There is "definitely some room to [further explore] the relationship between Michonne and Andrea," Kirkman told TV Line. Laurie Holden told TVLine, "Anything’s possible. There may be scenes of Andrea and Michonne that the audience wanted to see. You may see more of renegade-Robert-Kirkman-badass-Andrea."
WHY NOT GO TO WOODBURY?: Gale Anne Hurd told IGN, "The Governor is still out there with Shupert and Martinez. They’ve still got significant firepower. If they go to Woodbury, at this point, Woodbury’s not as protected as it used to be. I think everyone was traumatized by what happened, and I think they feel safer in the prison." In the Season 4 extended trailer (watch below), it's made clear that Woodbury isn't on option anymore.
BEST SEASON YET? Norman Reedus told the Wall Street Journal, "It’s interesting because people that aren’t villains, may turn into villains, you know what I mean? Carl just shot a kid in the face. I think Season 4 is going to be our best season, I really do. Our new showrunner – Glen [Mazzara] was amazing, and Frank [Darabont] was always amazing, but Scott [Gimple] is such a good writer. He’s got the whole thing plotted out already. I’m really excited to get going. We’ll start Season 4 in May." He updated later by saying Season 4 had the best scripts so far: “The sets are crazy," he told Sirius XM radio. "It feels like we’ve shot about three movies already. It’s super intense, and everything’s for a reason, a specific reason, and it’s great right now. [...] They’ve introduced a way to make zombies scary again, and they’re terrifying. The new threat is just unreal. I can’t of course tell you what that is, but it’s brilliant writing."
ROY STARK = ABRAHAM? According to SpoilerTV, "For episode 4.01 of The Walking Dead, the regular role of Roy Stark is being cast. He was an Army medic before the ZA." TVLine confirmed the AMC casting call, saying the character of Roy Stark, is “described as a former army medic who is deeply haunted by his past — pre- and post-zombie apocalypse. As a result, he’s a bit of a loner, although he maintains a charming/self-deprecating/confident public face." Some people think this might be the comic book character of Abraham. Maybe!
BOB STOOKEY CAST: According to iDigitalTimes, actor Lawrence Gilliard Jr. — who played D'Angelo Barksdale on The Wire, and co-starred in The Waterboy, Gangs of New York and Army Wives — is in talks to join The Walking Dead Season 4 in a new series regular role, possibly/probably Roy Stark, who may or may not be Abraham. UPDATE: He did land a role, as Bob Stookey. So "Roy Stark" may just have been a code name to throw fans off.
RICK COULD DIE, BUT DON'T BANK ON IT HAPPENING SOON: Kirkman had a little Q&A with fans on AMCTV.com, and someone asked if the group could survive if something happens to Rick. Kirkman responded, "Yes, absolutely. We've been saying that no one is safe on this show, and I wouldn't rule out seeing the death of Rick Grimes at almost any point. We really like to keep people guessing, and I could definitely see some interesting stories coming from that. While Rick has been a pretty solid leader, he's definitely made his share of mistakes. I think seeing Daryl or Maggie or Glenn picking up a larger leadership role in the group could pose some interesting story possibilities." This got many fans riled up, but keep in mind — Kirkman never shares major spoilers, never mind spoiling what would be the series's biggest plot point. If it's anything close to a real "spoiler" he usually just shrugs and says "it's possible." So for him to be so definitive on something's potential is almost the best evidence that it will never happen.
DARYL COULD ALSO DIE, BUT DON'T BANK ON IT HAPPENING SOON: Kirkman does not appreciate being threatened by passionate Daryl fans. “I get a lot of hate mail every time I kill anybody in the comic, which always aggravates me because it’s like, ‘It’s been a hundred issues! Don’t you know how this is by now? What are you doing?’” Kirkman told reporters (via ComicBook.com). “But specifically about the Daryl thing — that fan reaction is going to get him killed. I feel like it’s a dare. Like, ‘Oh, really? You’re gonna riot? We’ll see … we’ll see. No one is safe.” New showrunner Scott Gimple added, “We may be unsafe afterwards, I mean physically.”
EXPECT "AWESOME": We would anyway, but Wetpaint Entertainment talked to Steven Yeun (Glenn) at the College Television Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 24, and asked for some Season 4 scoop. "I really actually don’t know," he said. "We read the first script, and that’s it, and I can just say that it’s going to be pretty awesome. If I want to keep my job, that’s all I can say." Read more here.
NEW CELL BLOCK AND OTHER PRISON UPDATES: TWD production designer Grace Walker talked to AMC about some changes at the prison. “We're trying to form better conditions for the survivors at the prison,” she said “We figured because we had a lot more people coming in — like the people coming from Woodbury — that the cellblocks were starting to overflow, so we made more room for them. We had to have better shelter, and conditions where they can now eat outside. [...] We're just completing a new cellblock for this season, and it's looking almost better than the others. But like everything, we're not quite ready -- there's always a moment when we're nervous and trying to get things done. But we always do, and it looks great!”
ZOMBIE BABY! According to TV Guide, the October 13 premiere will feature a wee walker, in some form or another. "It'll be something different from the baby who was seen in [2004's] Dawn of the Dead remake, which was horrific and done so well,” said comic book writer/executive producer Robert Kirkman. “There's still room for us to do something different and cool."
NEW THREAT WORSE THAN ZOMBIES & HUMANS? Lauren Cohan (Maggie) teased the new danger of Season 4 in a behind-the-scenes AMC video. "It's not even the walkers and it's not even other people this time; there's a whole new threat." Kirkman said the new threat could be more deadly than the other two combined. Now we’re paying attention! Could he be talking about a new disease? Or an old-school disease like the flu? The prison doesn't seem to have much air circulation, or medical supplies, so illness could really spread and take people down. And remember, once you die, you turn, whether you're bit or not.
WATCH VIDEOS BELOW: See the first official Season 4 trailer, plus videos of the cast previewing the season.
Catch up on all kinds of Walking Dead recaps, spoilers, news, videos and polls at Wetpaint.com/the-walking-dead.