After a dramatic close to season 3, in which the show once again strayed from the comic book continuity, The Walking Dead is returning to AMC this fall with the promise of a rising body count and the dangling carrot of civilization – hopefully a civilization that isn’t run by a psychopath or megalomaniac. While we’re on the subject, the Governor of Woodbury is still around and will apparently be getting his own standalone episodes.

The Walking Dead has always featured an ensemble cast with multiple branching character plotlines, which means that no character is ever quite safe from a nasty death. The Comic-Con trailer portended yet more strife and hardship for the characters, even behind the high fences of the prison, and the latest teaser clip is a chilling reminder that the walkers do not respect boundaries.

It’s a little confusing to see Michonne trying to battle the walkers bare-handed when she has her trusty katana slung across her back, and it’s even more disconcerting to see young Carl coming to her rescue. The younger Grimes has attracted a substantial amount of negative backlash for needing rescuing and being responsible for the deaths of other characters in the show, but The Walking Dead‘s writers have already begun to develop Carl into a stronger, more ruthless character, and this seems likely to continue.

Not only is Carl growing up in a literal sense, going through the growth spurts and personality changes of puberty, he has also grown more adept at committing violence – against both the living and the dead. Prior to season 3, Glen Mazarra (who later became the second showrunner to be fired from The Walking Dead) outlined plans to “explor[e] Carl as a child soldier in this war against the walkers,” though at this point it seems he’s equally likely to become either a hero or a serial killer.

Based on this short teaser clip, the former seems a little more likely; the way in which Carl is not only manning the gate but also grabs a gun and hurries to Michonne’s aid without hesitation indicates how far the character has come since the beginning of the show. Since Carl has already seen first-hand evidence of the fact that adults can’t necessarily always protect kids from being chomped on by walkers or killed off in other ways, it makes sense that he would continue to learn how to defend himself, as well as others.

For those who have been feeling cold towards Carl in the show so far, do you think that your estimation of him is likely to change in season 4? If the zombie apocalypse continues to wage for another twenty years, is Carl more likely to turn into his father, or into a character like the Governor? Share your thoughts on Carl, and on this short clip, in the comments.

The Walking Dead returns to AMC on Sunday October 13th.