The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead Season 4 has left us dying to know what will become of the former prison dwellers. As any Walking Dead Head will know, not many people survive on the open road, and the ones who didn’t make it on the bus are left with no supplies and no vehicle for protection.
It’s going to be a bit like watching Season One again, says make-up effects maestro Greg Nicotero: “I feel like Episode 9 and onward really harkens back to the first season of The Walking Dead, because if you think about Season 2, they were on Hershel’s farm and in Season 3 and half of Season 4, they had the prison and Woodbury,” he tells Channel Guide Magazine.
“So this is the first time that they’re out in the world again. It’s the first time that we really get that sense of how big the world is and how unprotected people are in the wilderness.” And as if we couldn’t be any more excited for the show’s return, Nicotero also teases that the Season 4 Part B premiere (airing in the US on 9 February) will be “the closest adaptation to two issues of the comic-book that we’ve ever done”.
In the comics *spoilers* Rick and Carl are safe for a little while in a nearby house, until Rick takes too many antibiotics and Carl finds him unconscious. This fits with the recent teaser that aired in the US, which saw Carl screaming “Wake up!” at his unresponsive father. At this point Rick will still be in a whole world of pain after the prison showdown with the Governor. In the comics, Rick survives the overdose but it gives Carl an opportunity to step up and be the protector.
Among the tantalising loose ends waiting to be resolved is the mystery of the dissected rats, the Sanctuary message on the radio, Tyreese inevitably discovering that Carol is Karen’s murderer, and what ever became of baby Judith? All signs pointed to her cruel demise, but there was no body…
“When you see them leave the prison, Rick is barely alive – another 10 seconds and Rick would’ve been done,” says Nicotero. “So him watching Hershel’s death and being emotionally and physically beaten down, and having bonded with Carl (Chandler Riggs) again, it’s clear that when they 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.”
Along with new characters being introduced, including Eugene, Abraham and Rosita from the comic stories, there will also be some familiar faces with the return of Morgan (Lennie James). Nicotero says that showrunner Scott Gimple makes these choices with a definite end goal in mind:
“The beauty of Season 4, in my opinion, is that every single moment is there for a reason,” he confirms. “Stuff that we shot in the first episode this year pays off later, and it’s like each character has a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s really satisfying. Scott Gimple has really steered our ship in the right direction. Scott knows what’s going to happen in Season 5 already. He probably already knows what’s going to happen in Season 6.”