Things are about to get bigger, badder, scarier and more gooey! Why, you ask? Because it's time for season three of AMC's The Walking Dead, and everything you know from watching the first two seasons is going to change, said executive producer Robert Kirkman, who created the comic book series the TV show is inspired by.
"Like season two was bigger and better than the first season, I think season three continues that progression," said Kirkman. And he's not just talking about the fact that AMC has ordered more episodes, 16 this season, half to be aired this fall and half early next year.
The Walking Dead ended last season with Walkers overrunning Hershel Greene's farm, leaving the survivors on the run. Season three, which premieres on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 9 p.m., will feature major new characters, some plucked right out of the comic book series, and we'll be introduced to the pseudo-safe environments of a prison and Woodbury, a town that may be just a little too good to be believed.
The prison and Woodbury offer "some really cool new environments," said Kirkman. "The characters aren't going to be living on a farm anymore. They've found this prison, and they're going to be trying to live in this really inhospitable, very depressing environment, just living there for the safety of the walls around it, which is going to be pretty cool. We're going to tell a lot of good stories about that. But we've also got this really cool dual story going on where you've got Rick and the group that he leads surviving in this prison and having a real hard time with it, and then you have the Governor and his town in Woodbury and all of the people there, and you have their story and how they're surviving. And really the entire season ends up being this story about these two different groups who are on this collision course, and we get to watch the different events unfold as they grow closer and closer, leading to an eventual pretty awesome conflict."
While Rick and the gang try to take a Walker-infested prison, Andrea, who got separated from the group in the season-two cliffhanger, ends up joining forces with the katana-wielding Michonne. The Governor and Michonne are characters from the comic books and are played by British actor David Morrissey and Danai Gurira.
Besides the sword, Michonne was flanked by two zombies. "We call them her pets. Her armless, jawless zombie pets," said Kirkman. "And that's very much a survival mechanism that Michonne has developed over her time alone, which we'll learn a lot more about in season three. But when we pick up again in season three, these two women are on the road surviving together, and they've grown a bit of a bond, and they're going to have a little bit of a side adventure on their own that will eventually crash into the other storyline of the season and go into some interesting and dark places. So I would say stay tuned for that."
As for the other characters, "Maggie, Beth and Hershel are now very much a part of Rick's group and are very much tuned in to what this world is," he said. "So we're going to see a tremendous evolution of these characters over the course of season three where they are going to grow into their survival roles a little more."
For example, there's "been a lot of press, a lot of photos and stuff of Maggie wielding a machete and hacking up zombies in the prison yard. She's a lot stronger of a character and a lot more in the mix with other characters like Rick and Glenn as they do their hard physical work of clearing out zombies and stuff like that. So we're going to see these characters in a much different light in the third season," he said.
Now that Shane is gone, "Daryl is very much stepping up into more of a leadership role. He's got a very strong relationship between him and Carol. He's got a very good friendship with Rick that's developed over the course of season two. He's very much more integrated. He's a somewhat kinder, gentler Daryl Dixon than we've seen, but ... what's interesting about season three for Daryl is that his brother is back," said Kirkman. What Merle's return means to the group remains to be seen.
We'll also get to know T-Dog better this season. Carl will become a warrior child as he comes into his own thanks to growing up during the Walker Apocalypse.
And expect plenty of gooey Walkers to pop up. "They really look cool, and they're scary, and that's awesome. It's a big part of the show. A lot of hard work goes into making them look as great as they look," he said.
But if you think you have an idea how it's all going to play out because of spoilers from the comic book series, think again, said Kirkman. They've proven in the past that you never know if, how or when a character might die, and season three will be have plenty of shocking surprises.
He believes "a real key aspect of what's made The Walking Dead comic book series so successful is the fact that when you sit down to read an issue, you have no idea what's going to happen. Anyone could die at any moment. The entire storyline could change and go in a different direction. And that's really exciting for the readers. It's that uncertainty that I think drives people to continue reading the series. To lose that uncertainty even just for the portion of the audience [of the TV series] that's extremely familiar with the comic book series, I think, would be doing it a disservice. We want to maintain that sense of suspense and the unknown for the television viewers as well."
Here's a preview of season three:
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Are you ready for the Walker Apocalypse to begin again?