Fans of The Walking Dead know about incremental gains and big losses. This is a series that has spent a large part of its time burying people, planting makeshift crosses on the lawn of the prison, and dealing with the spectre of death; so when one of the cast members uses the word "painful" to describe a scene in the mid-season finale, it's not terribly surprising.
In a new interview, Andrew Lincoln (aka Rick Grimes) opens up about that scene, the start of something new for the prison group of survivors, and Rick's shifting relationship with Carl.
Here's Lincoln talking to TV Line about finding Rick in a more settled place at the start of season four.
"Rest assured, it really doesn’t last much longer than the first episode. It’s not The Waltons. [Laughs] We’re very good at smashing things and breaking things and everything falling apart very, very quickly. That is, in fact, what happens. [...] The writers do a beautiful job at creating the beginnings of civilization and the potential for these people. You do feel they’re beginning this civilization – and it’s working. Rick has put all of his energy into growing things."
One would think that one of the things that Rick tries to grow is his relationship with Carl. At the end of last season, it seemed as though Rick was pulled back from the brink due to his son's quick slide into cold-blooded killer territory. This season, though, it seems like Rick and Carl's relationship is going to center on Carl's continued growth and Rick's need to accept that.
"Most of the story arc for Rick is driven by children, by Carl and Judith. [The] central theme throughout this whole season is his responsibilities as a father pulled against his responsibilities as a good leader of the group – in spite of the new setup and regimen. It’s the central thrust of this season: the boy becoming a man and the father accepting it. You meet them in a much happier place, and Rick’s become present in Carl’s life. He’s a hard father, but he’s a fair and loving father. What happens this season – as all parents undergo – is you have to start to listen to your children because they can educate you at times."
Here's Lincoln on shooting a scene that rivaled his breakdown over Lori's death.
There’s been one scene that was pretty painful to do — it’s always the mid-season finale! [Laughs] It was all going so well for me this year, I was farming and just kicking back – I thought it was going to be a really relaxed season for me – and then they just go, ‘Bam!’ [Makes crashing noise].
Naturally, when Lincoln talks about Rick's children and then talks about shooting a scene that was "pretty painful", the mind wanders. We have to assume that multiple characters will die on the show, but will it be someone close to Rick?
That question won't be answered until we're into the season, but with Lincoln talking fondly about the writers' ability to smash things, and new showrunner Scott Gimple discussing killing off characters during New York Comic Con, the challenge this season may be in grounding the series and creating a bond between the audience and some of these new (or newish) characters.
Season four of The Walking Dead returns tonight (October 13th) on AMC @9PM ET