The highest rated cable series in the nation returns this Sunday night, when season four of AMC’s The Walking Dead kicks off. Because of the way that AMC splits up the seasons — a fall and winter season of eight episodes a piece — we never have to go too long between The Walking Dead episodes. Nevertheless, going into the premiere, a refresher of the events in the third season finale, and what we can expect from the fourth season, may be helpful.
Let’s bullet point this b*tch:
Season three ended with the deaths of Andrea, Milton, and a whole slew of Woodbury folks, the latter of whom The Governor took out in a fit of rage. The Governor, meanwhile, took off: He’s on the run with a couple of his henchman, who were as terrified of The Governor as anyone else by the finale’s end. Meanwhile, Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) helped provide a bridge, of sorts, to move the remaining Woodbury residents into the prison, with the remaining survivors of Rick’s gang. As I recall, we had also gotten a hint that Carl Grimes is on the brink of being a bratty, subordinate, and homicidal teenager, while Michonne is dealing with the devastation of losing her best friend, Andrea. Daryl, likewise, is dealing with the loss of his brother, Merle.
What can we expect in season four from Scott Gimple, who took over show running duties from Glen Mazzara?
1. The season picks up six or seven months following the events in the season three finale. The Woodbury residents have merged peacefully into the prison. They’ve opened up a school taught Carol, and in addition to traditional subjects, they’re also teaching zombie survival skills.
2. Michonne will be spending a lot of time this season on a horse.
3. Sasha, Tyreese, and Beth have all been elevated from recurring characters to series regulars. Tyreese, in fact, will take a central role in season four.
4. Hershel will be fitted with an artificial leg, which will be useful as he sets up a garden to feed the survivors fresh food.
5. We can expect that there will be some friction between the Woodbury citizens and the prison gang, although the title of the season four premiere, “30 Days Without an Accident,” at least suggests that there hasn’t been any recent bloodshed.
6. The Wire’s Larry Gilliard Jr. has been added to the cast. He’ll play Bob Stookey, a former Army medic traumatized by his past. He will be close friends with Tyreese.
7. Alanna Masterson (the sister of Danny and Christopher Masterson) has also been added to the cast. She may be playing Tara Chalmers, a character book readers will recognize as a member of a traveling family band.
8. Carl’s disturbing (homicidal) behavior at the end of season three will prompt Rick to give up some of his leadership duties and spend more time with both Carl and Lil Ass Kicker.
9. Morgan (Lennie James) — Rick’s friend from the series premiere, and an episode from last season, Clear, will return in season four.
10. Kyle Gallner will have a short run this season, and though details are scarce, it is expected that he will be the love interest to one of the series regulars (Beth?). It probably will not end well.
11. The Governor will have an active role in this season. As David Morrisey says of his character (via IGN):
He’s in a deeply traumatic place. He’s got issues. He’s psychopathic. I don’t think he does those things without consequence to his soul. He does them and they take a toll on him. He has to carry that burden. The great thing for me and this season coming up is that the writers have written some great complex things for me to do, and I’m relishing it.”
12. The biggest thing to expect from season four is a new, as-yet-undisclosed threat. What we do know, according to Gimple, as that “It’s a force that you can’t just stab in the face, you can’t talk reason to.” Creator Robert Kirkman had this to add about the new threat:
“Possibly the most deadly threat that they’ve faced thus far. They’re still going to be dealing with the zombies, they’re still very much a threat. They’re still going to be dealing with humans, that’s still very much a threat. But there’s a new element thrown in, this new unseen force that is going to be extremely dangerous and possibly more dangerous than anything.”
Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes, adds:
“There are ways that I find more horrifying when I read certain scripts this season that have nothing to do with conflict or zombies and they’re incredibly frightening and horrifying, and as much as the pressure builds, there’s a new pressure. They’ve been very smart in adding that texture, that flavor, the horror back in the show,” he said.
The new threat will avail itself by the end of season four’s first episode.