After a somewhat divisive season 3 finale (that nonetheless retained massive ratings), The Walking Dead has moved swiftly to begin production on season 4. We've already seen extras gearing up and training to become part of the show's zombified horde, but actual human characters have remained scarce.
Of course, it was inevitable that production photos of The Walking Dead's main cast would begin to be released in order to build the necessary hype for the show's premiere, even though it's almost a half year away. It's only natural that such promotional images would start with the series' increasingly unstable protagonist, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).
Check out the image of Lincoln in-costume as Rick Grimes below:
CLICK FOR FULL-SIZED IMAGE
Rick doesn't appear to have changed much between season 3 and 4, implying that (unlike the transition between seasons 2 and 3) there won't be much of a time skip, if any. Despite having taken on an even greater burden of leadership at the end of the last season, Rick still looks like a man just a hair's breadth away from cracking completely. He strode right along the edge of madness for a good deal of the previous season. Will the upcoming episodes see him regain his composure, or will his slide continue even further?
In any other context, the walker shambling in the photo's background might be sinister – and yet, season 3 of the series firmly established that Rick and his crew view single undead as more of a nuisance than a danger. This presents an interesting challenge for the writers of the show, especially since the other big danger of the series – the Governor and his army – have been effectively neutralized. If the living dead no longer present much of an obstacle and the Governor's power has been slashed, what kind of tension will the show turn to? Will we see a new sort of antagonist soon?
If anything, Rick's near-insanity last season proved that The Walking Dead has transitioned fully into being an ensemble drama, no longer anchored in a single character. One wonders whether the show will refocus on the cop-turned-community-leader or continue shifting between multiple points of view for a broader look at life after the fall of civilization.
The Walking Dead will creep back onto AMC in October of 2013.