[SPOILERS ahead for The Walking Dead up to season 4, episode 8.]
In many ways, the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead closed with the bang that fans were expecting to see in the finale of season 3, and as such the upcoming second half of the season looks very much like the start of something new. After growing somewhat complacent behind the walls of the prison, the group had their haven brutally ripped away by the wrath of the Governor and were left scattered with their numbers diminished.
This leaves The Walking Dead at an important crossroads with more than a few pitfalls. One of the criticisms of the comics was that the cycle of wandering, settling, then wandering again became too repetitive, with each new safehouse (the camp, the farm and the prison etc.) ultimately failing the group and forcing them to move on. Having a central location is preferable for a show with budget limitations, but some forward momentum would be a blessing at this stage.
The characters of The Walking Dead might be feeling vulnerable without their dual fences and concrete walls to hide behind, but they haven't survived for this long by being afraid of rough living. Entertainment Weekly has a new batch of images from the second half of season 4 that show some of the most established characters making a stab at survival in the scary outside world.
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The cast of The Walking Dead is also going to be restocked with new characters that fans of the comics may recognize. As we've reported previously, Michael Cudlitz (Southland) will play former US army sergeant and sports coach Abraham Ford (pictured above). Ford travels around with his tough, hispanic love interest Rosita Espinosa and former high-school science teacher Dr. Eugene Porter, and according the the New York Post these roles will be played by Christian Serratos (Twilight) and Josh McDermitt (Last Comic Standing), respectively.
There are many different paths that the latter half of The Walking Dead season 4 could take - either sticking to the comic book canon or exploring its own avenues - but at least there's not much time left until we can find out what happens next.
The Walking Dead returns on February 9, 2014 at 9pm on AMC.