(Spoilers up to the mid-season finale ahead) The Walking Dead returns this Sunday night after a mid-season finale last December that left us with a lot of questions. As you may recall, the mid-season finale ended with the deaths of both The Governor and Hershel. It also left the prison survivors scattered as they fled from the prison as the zombies overran it, but everyone seemed to go into different directions. The back eight episodes of The Walking Dead will explore how they survive on their own (or don’t survive, as the case may be) as they search the woods of Georgia to find one another.
Here are ten open questions we have going into Sunday’s mid-season premiere.
1. What will the Governor’s role be in the premiere? — We have heard that the Governor — who was presumably shot in the head in the mid-season finale — will return in the season premiere, which was basically confirmed. In what capacity will he be back? A Rick hallucination? Or will it just be a shot of his body, confirming his death? Or will he somehow come back as a zombie? Or is there a possibility he’s actually alive (No)?
2. Is Judith Alive? — This is probably the most pressing question at the outset. In the mid-season finale, Rick and Carl found Judith’s car seat, and it was empty. Is she dead? Or, as some speculated, did one of the girls take her? Or, possibly, did Tyreese run off with her (there was a shot of him at the end of the mid-season finale running with his hands pulled in, as though he were carrying something). Some interesting speculation here suggests that Judith is not dead because the buckle on the car seat is unfastened, and it’s quite unlikely that a walker would unfasten the belt before devouring a baby.
But then again, exec producer Greg Nicotero had this to say about Judith: “It’s clear that when [Rick and Carl] walk up to the baby seat and there’s blood splattered on it, there’s a reason for them to react the way that they did.” Is that confirmation that she’s dead, or simply acknowledging that they reacted appropriately to a car seat missing Judith?
3. Who Torched Karen? — Though Carol admitted to burning Karen and David because they were infected last season, there’s plenty of reason to doubt she was telling the truth. Many believe that she was protecting Lizzie, who may or may not have also been the person feeding rats to the zombies. One person is speculating that maybe it was Beth. That seems far-fetched.
4. When Will We See Carol? At this point, Carol’s return is not a question of if, but when, and under what circumstances? It’s been confirmed that she will return at some point in the back half of the season. The most interesting play would be to pair her off with Tyreese at some point, since Tyreese doesn’t yet know that Carol confessed to burning Karen. That would make for an awkward and uncertain reunion.
5. What is Michonne’s backstory? — There’s been a lot of talk during the break that during this half season we will finally got some insights into Michonne’s past, which will no doubt explain her tearful scene with Judith during the first half of the fourth season. She must have had a baby, and something terrible must have happened to it. We will probably find out what that horror was.
6. Which Major Character Will Die? — Speaking of Michonne, she is one of the possibilities among four major characters that are rumored to die this season. Word is that one of the main characters that has not been killed off in the comic book will die, which narrows it down to Michonne, Maggie, Carl, and Rick. My prediction is Carl, who will be majorly featured in this Sunday’s episode, and we know that The Walking Dead likes to give characters highlight episodes before they die. (Norman Reedus is also getting a focused episode this season, which makes me very nervous.)
7. Who is the radio voice? — In the first half of the season, Michonne, Daryl, Bob, and Tyreese heard a voice on their car radio. We have no idea who it is or where it’s coming from, or if it will ever even play into the storyline, but my guess is that it will at some point.
8. Where is everyone? The whole gang gets separated, and from what we can tell, the episodes this season will likely focus on individual groups and pairings, as they seek to find one another. We know Rick and Carl are together, and we know that Sasha and Bob are together, and that Daryl and Beth are together, and there’s quite a few people on a bus. But where is Lily, who no longer has a daughter?
9. When Will Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) be introduced? The thing I’m most excited about this season is the introduction of Abraham, who will be played by the phenomenal Southland actor Michael Cudlitz. Who will they be paired off with? Are they friendly or a threat?
10. Why is AMC sweating the back half? — There’s a lot of speculation that these next eight episodes will be bleaker than anything that The Walking Dead has done before, and that AMC has some concerns with the violence, the gruesomeness, and the subject matter. Comic-book readers know what’s coming, and many are suggesting (SPOILERS) that it may involve hunters who track down children to rape and kill them. If so, THAT IS F**KED UP.
Of course, AMC may also be nervous because of who may die? If they kill Daryl, for instance, they lose one third of their audience. Michonne and Maggie would also seem untouchable. Or AMC may just be nervous because the next eight episodes — which apparently are more like the first season — will be slow and boring, involve too much walking, and not enough killing?
We’ll find out starting this Sunday.