The Walking Dead, recently rated cable television’s top show by Nielson, is making moves to alleviate concerns of a sluggish first half to season 6. Already hungry for the second half, fans are awaiting the fate of Rick and several Alexandrians after the cliffhanger that ended the season’s midway point. Now, the latter eight episodes of the season will tease new characters, including the highly anticipated debut of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and a new potential ally in former Hilltop Colony resident, Paul “Jesus” Monroe (Tom Payne).

While Negan and Jesus will likely be welcomed by fans of the comics with open arms — for different reasons, of course — the series has invited a third new character into the mix, to help bolster its revolving door cast.

TV Line has confirmed that Xander Berkeley is on board as Gregory, the leader of the Hilltop Colony. Berkeley, known primarily for his roles on Nikita, 24, The A-Team, and Being Human has reportedly signed on through at least season 7. With the possibility for Berkeley to appear in that many episodes, it looks like Negan won’t be the only problem Rick, Maggie, Glenn, Michonne, Daryl, and crew will be facing in the near future.

In the comics, Gregory runs the Hilltop Colony with a crocodile smile and a genuine interest in self-preservation above all else, leading to the possibility that the character will have some rather troublesome dealings with the series’ core survivors and, perhaps, even the upcoming big bad.

Gregory’s introduction to the show is definitely a hint that things are about to get rougher for our heroes. Beyond Negan’s penchant for violence and his goon squad known as The Saviors — which very well may bring a new dimension of sadism to the show — the introduction of the duplicitous Gregory will make taking down hordes of walkers seem like a vacation. And with characters like Gregory posing as a “friend,” the show’s protagonists are in no position to take on any more enemies.

The first half of season 6 may have had its slow points and its more contentious points, but fans can hopefully look toward the menace that Negan brings and Gregory’s double-dealing nature as points that stand a real chance of breathing some excitement and intrigue back into the show.

The Walking Dead returns with ‘No Way Out’ on Sunday, February 14 @9pm on AMC.

Source: TV Line