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Scott M. Gimple made his Comic-Con debut as The Walking Dead‘s newest showrunner on Friday to a packed Hall H, offering the first footage of season four, a premiere date and his vision for the series.
“Things are going to be way crazier; it’s an escalation,” comics creator Robert Kirkman said of what to expect in the fourth season, which will premiere Sunday, Oct. 13 at 9 p.m., followed by the season premiere of The Talking Dead. The second half of the season will return in February.
“It’s been crazy. We did the first episode, I wrote it and it blew my mind,” Gimple said of how his new gig has been so far.
With so many characters being killed off on the series, EP Gale Anne Hurd revealed that the producers made a trip to surprise actress Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori) to see her new play, with EP Greg Nicotero noting that he has remained in contact with Jon Bernthal and Jeff DeMunn, whose characters both died during season two.
This season, Gimple said fans shouldn’t get too comfortable with the nature of the threat of the Governor — or even walkers. “They might get a little comfortable, but then things might get a little dangerous,” he said of threats on the series that have included the evolution of walkers.
The first footage of season four revealed that the walkers are quickly closing in on the prison, which is now employing tricks Rick picked up on from Morgan (Lennie James). Additionally, someone attacks inside the prison — with Rick and Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) looking to find out just who’s behind it. Also, comic character Bob Stokey seeks to lend a hand and earn his keep among the group.
Star Andrew Lincoln previewed that Rick will be in a completely different place when the zombie drama returns and that the decision to return to the dilapidated prison will be explained.
“We answer it this season,” Lincoln teased, noting that his relationship with son Carl (Chandler Riggs) would hugely influence Rick’s decision making. “The relationship with Carl is integral to the beginning of the season from Rick. [Carl] turning into a sociopath at the end of the season woke him up to his parenting duties. You find Rick in a completely different place this season.”
“The death of Andrea (Laurie Holden), combined with what happened with Carl was the catalyst to bring him to that point,” Lincoln said. “The brutality of pushing people away in season three wasn’t working for him and was cataclysmic for his family. When we meet them all in season four, there is a whole new community in the prison and friction between certain characters. It makes for incredible character-driven scenes.”
David Morrissey defended The Governor and used the character’s trademark tagline from Kirkman’s comics for his character’s killing spree in the season-three finale. “He feels as if they betrayed them,” he said with a smirk. “He went off with two of them — he didn’t kill them all.”
For his part, Norman Reedus (Daryl) reiterated that his beloved character will continue to take on responsibilities within the group following the death of his racist older brother, Merle (Michael Rooker). “Without Merle around, he can find his sense of self-worth he never would have found if this apocalypse would never have happened.”
The typically press-shy Gimple let the cast take center stage during the panel but did say that the decisions the characters make will directly impact how others evolve on the series, reiterating his desire to keep season four more character-driven.
Watch the trailer, below, and stay tuned to THR for more Walking Dead coverage as the season approaches.
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