[SPOILERS ahead for The Walking Dead up to season 4, episode 10.]
With so many corpses wandering around, AMC's The Walking Dead can benefit from a brisk spring-cleaning every now and then to freshen things up. As the second half of season 4 gets under way, much of the prison population has been turned into zombie food and the end of last week's episode, 'Inmates,' saw the arrival of three new characters who have been plucked from the pages of Robert Kirkman's comics.
Michael Cudlitz (Southland) plays Abraham Ford, a former army sergeant and sports coach who has formed a small survivor group alongside his lover, Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos), and science expert Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt). The three of them ran into Tara and Glenn in the aftermath of a walker attack, but their degree of friendliness was left pretty ambiguous.
In an interview with THR, Cudlitz has offered some insights into the three new characters and how close their portrayal is to the comic books. Cudlitz says that he was originally sent the script for The Walking Dead's pilot episode before the show was even cast and that he thought it was "awesome," but only got caught up with the comics once he was offered the role. Apparently there's a lot in the upcoming episodes that will be familiar to fans of the source material:
"A lot of things happen in the comic that affect how he operates and how he moves through this world and the decisions he makes. A lot of that is ripped directly from the comics, as well as the whole chunk of time where the comic left off and where we meet them now. There are some elements that they've introduced that will make Abraham's back story that much more tragic.
"All three of those characters are going to seem extremely familiar to those who know the comics. They're almost exact up to the point where we meet them. Where they go from here, we'll all learn that together."
Rosita and Abraham have romantic reasons to want to stick together, but their relationship to Eugene is somewhat more complicated. Unlike most of the characters in The Walking Dead, these three have a clear destination in mind: Washington, D.C. There, they believe, lies the key to ending the zombie apocalypse and returning things to normal:
"You know they're headed for Washington but the audience will learn all that in the next episode as to where they're going, why they think they're going there, what information Eugene has and that Abraham and Rosita believe him. There is no subtlety in it. It's this wonderful expositional moment that's literally ripped out of the comics where you meet these people, learn who they are as individuals and what they need from anyone else -- and you better f---ing be on board, because you don't have a choice!"
With all the death and despair going on, The Walking Dead can be quite a bleak and depressing show, so it's something of a relief that Cudlitz promises a few laughs at Abraham, Eugene and Rosita's interactions. He describes them as having a "bickering, strange hierarchy and weird group dynamic that we have not seen before," and if the three actors have good chemistry then this could be exactly the kind of spark that The Walking Dead needs to stay lively.
Abraham in particular is described as having the kind of brusque manner that one might expect from a former army sergeant, and he's rarely in the mood for naval-gazing:
"They're not locked in this day-to-day rhetorical self-examination of life and what does it all mean... Abraham is more like, 'By the time you all have your f---ing meeting, I'll have handled it already.' They are not a Boy Scout Troop...
"He's not necessarily someone who is going to be the king -- or someone you'd even want to be the king -- he's the guy you'd want as your first, the guy leading a section of a larger plan. Ultimately, he's good for [Rick's] group because there are a lot of reluctant leaders and people doing what they have to do. Abraham is a leader by nature; he's not reluctant about it."
Although The Walking Dead has definitely had its share of major deaths, there seems to be a very small group of characters - Rick, Carl and Daryl in particular - who feel like they're going to be around for the long haul. With his training and skills Abraham definitely sounds like a survivor, but we'll have to wait and see what kind of path the rest of the season takes him down.
The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with ‘Claimed’ @9pm on AMC.