This past July the cast and crew of The Walking Dead were some of the most highly anticipated guests at the San Diego Comic-Con as fans eagerly await the Season 4 premiere. In addition to meet and greets they sat down for an hour-long panel hosted by Talking Dead’s Chris Hardwick and debuted the exciting trailer for the new season.
Let’s recap what went down last season for all of us eagerly awaiting the Season 4 premiere this October – if you live under a rock, or possibly inside the Woodbury compound, then we recommend you look away as there are spoilers ahead!
When we first got back with our group, several months have passed since they had to leave the tranquility of Hershel’s Farm. Lori is in the final days of her pregnancy and scared out of her mind that she won’t survive. She’s fairly certain she’ll need a Caesarian section, something incredibly dangerous in this hospital-less world they now live in. Incidentally, this fear allows us what might be one of the coolest Carol scenes of the entire season when she learns how to perform the procedure by practicing on a walker lab-rat!
Needing a safe place to deliver Lori’s baby becomes Priority Number 1, and Rick decides an abandoned prison is as good a place as any. Unfortunately the prison is anything but abandoned, and Rick and his group set to clearing it out. This task isn’t so morally difficult when it’s just walkers they’re dealing with – but when they stumble onto a group of inmates taking shelter all hell breaks loose.
While running from walkers, Hershel is bitten in the leg and Rick is forced to amputate below the knee. It’s a risky move they aren’t sure will pay off, but he recovers and they learn a valuable piece of information: if they can remove the bitten area shortly after the attack they can stave off infection. This isn’t necessarily important for our group at the moment, but it plays a part in the comics so there’s a chance it will come up again in the future.
Rick agrees to work with the inmates to clear out another section of the prison for their use, but these men are poor fighters and many of them are killed (we’re still mad about Big Tiny – we miss you!). The two that survive that aren’t evil jerks, Axel and Oscar, prove themselves to be reliable and slowly start assimilating into the group.
We lose some key people in the first half of Season 3 after one of the disgruntled inmates exacts revenge against our group by releasing a pack of walkers on them. T-Dog, who most fans were excited to see finally have more to do than scowl and help lift things, sacrifices himself in order to save Carol, who is too busy running for her life when Lori goes into labor. Hiding in a mechanical room with Maggie and Carl, Lori has Maggie perform the Caesarian, and while Maggie holds the baby poor Carl has to shoot his own mother in the head so she won’t turn into a walker. Rick is so distraught after her death that he barely acknowledges baby Judith and becomes haunted by Lori’s ghost.
While all of this goes on, Andrea – left behind by the group when they escaped the farm – makes a friend in the mysterious Michonne, a comics fan-favorite who finally made her TV appearance in the finale of Season 2. Together the two of them get taken by the Governor’s posse (which includes a long-lost Merle Dixon) and brought back to Woodbury – a seemingly idyllic sanctuary that’s actually super-creepy.
Michonne doesn’t trust him and after trying in vain to convince Andrea to leave with her, sets off alone. She sees Maggie and Glenn get taken by Merle while they’re on a baby-supply run, but not before overhearing them speak about the prison. Grabbing the supplies they dropped she finds Rick. Together with Daryl and Oscar they rescue Maggie and Glenn and Michonne exacts her revenge on the Governor by killing his walker-daughter and stabbing out one of his eyes. Their mission isn’t without cost, as Oscar is killed and Daryl is taken prisoner. A wounded Governor then accuses Merle of treason and pits the Dixon brothers against one another in a Thunderdome-esque fight. Rick and Maggie are able to return and rescue them, but when Rick refuses to let Merle into their group Daryl decides to set off alone with his brother.
With Rick away, Carl becomes the man of the prison and tries to help another group of survivors led by Tyreese and his sister Sasha. But when Rick returns he promptly boots them out, and they angrily set off on their own. They eventually run into the Governor, and mistakenly think he can be trusted. They tell him where they came from and the Governor sets out for revenge. He takes a small group to the prison and is able to breach the outer wall, killing Axel just when Carol’s starting to take a liking to him! Merle and Daryl decide to return to the prison to be the stand-up guys they were meant to be, and get there just in time to help keep the Governor at bay and force a retreat.
This second-half of Season 3 isn’t without incredible loss as well: after the Governor’s attack Rick and Carl set out for home to see if there are any weapons left, bringing Michonne with them to watch their backs (which allows her to prove herself to the group). While there, Rick runs into his old friend Morgan who’s pretty much gone nuts after the death of his son Duane at the hands of his walker-wife. The exchange between the two in the episode “Clear” constitutes some of the very best scenes and dialogue of the season and shouldn’t be missed. Played to perfection by the brilliant Lennie James (who is currently chewing up his costars on another AMC show, Low Winter Sun), the reunion between Rick and Morgan is something we’d all been waiting for since the first season, and the writers don’t disappoint.
The trauma that’s occurred to both these men since that first meeting is something writer Robert Kirkman looked forward to exploring. “I really loved the return of Morgan .” Kirkman tells AMC, “Just that exchange between Rick and Morgan and how it stripped the show down to these two men. And it called back to the first episode of the series, which to me was kind of a hallmark for the show, because those two men in that room are absolutely 100% completely different than the two men having a discussion in the first episode.”
While Rick deals with the death of Lori, Andrea has cozied up to the Governor. She arranges peace talks between them and the Governor tells Rick he’ll leave the prison alone if Rick surrenders Michonne. Each side returns to their respective compounds and Andrea learns this condition is a ruse and he’s going to kill them all anyway. She tries to escape to warn them but is betrayed by the Governor’s right-hand man Milton and put in a cell to be tortured.
At the prison, Rick’s unable to bring himself to turn Michonne over as he knows she’ll be killed. Merle decides he’s going to circumvent Rick’s wishes bring her in. But when the two finally talk to one another like human beings, he comes to the same conclusion as Rick and allows her to go free. He sets out alone to foil the Governor’s plans and is killed for it. In one of the most heart-wrenching scenes of the season Daryl comes across his reanimated brother and is forced to put him down.
Feeling betrayed by pretty much everyone he trusted, the Governor stabs a now-doubting Milton and throws him into Andrea’s cell so he’ll die, reanimate and then kill her. He launches another assault on the prison but Rick and his group are ready and carry out an ambush of their own. All of this senseless killing makes the soldiers and residents of Woodbury question the Governor’s decision to keep attacking – and he answers them with bullets, gunning down his own people. Rick brings the surviving Woodbury residents back to the prison and the season ends with a HUGE question mark, as no one knows where the Governor is or what he’s going to do next.
But we do have some answers in the form of tidbits being dropped by AMC. David Morrissey, whose run as the Governor was initially supposed to last one season, returns to reprise his role, though for how long remains to be seen. Morrissey’s also been tapped to star in a new AMC pilot, Line of Sight. Both shows are conveniently filmed in Atlanta and AMC swears Morrissey’s Governor duties won’t be infringed upon.
Chad Coleman and Sonequa Martin-Green, who play siblings Tyreese and Sasha, will become regular cast members. Melissa Ponzio becomes a recurring character as Woodbury’s main survivor Karen. She can also be seen as Melissa McCall in Teen Wolf.
Making his first appearance in the show is comics character Bob Stookey, portrayed by Larry Gilliard, Jr. Fans of The Wire will recognize him as D’Angelo Barksdale. Our initial prediction is that show Stookey will differ from the comics version as it’s rumored he’ll be discovered by Daryl a week before the events of Season 4 begin and is accepted into the prison, where he’ll attempt to get used to the feeling of safety. Though judging by how “safe” the prison turned out to be last season, we don’t know how settled Stookey should really get.
Furthermore we aren’t sure how settled new showrunner Scott Gimple should get. AMC raised eyebrows after unceremoniously firing original producer Frank Darabont and replacing him with writer-producer Glen Mazzara. So it seemed a little baffling that halfway through Season 3 the network announced a mutual parting of ways with him. They cited differences with their views for the direction of the show, but rumors swirled Kirkman and AMC were unhappy with Mazzara’s abilities at the helm. He made his exit after the conclusion of the season and producer Gimple now takes his place. Judging by the trailer that debuted at Comic-Con, there’s going to no shortage of blood and drama this October!