[SPOILERS for The Walking Dead Season 4 ahead.]
San Diego Comic-Con is now only one week away - and guaranteed to have a large presence this year is AMC's The Walking Dead. The show's panel will be in the always overcrowded Hall H on Friday, July 25th at 12:20pm PST, but throughout the convention the series' stars and creator Robert Kirkman are expected to make the rounds, drumming up excitement for The Walking Dead season 5.
Last season's finale left our intrepid group of zombie apocalypse survivors in a precarious and likely dangerous situation. After half a season of being separated from one another, Rick and company were reunited in the supposed safe-haven: Terminus. Of course - being that nothing is ever as safe or wholesome as it first appears - they were immediately captured.
Not until The Walking Dead returns in October will we learn how Rick plans on getting everyone free of this latest mess, but considering each season tries to outdo the previous, it's going to be brutal. Offering fans a tiny bit more insight in to what's happening in season 5, Kirkman spoke with Entertainment Weekly and again promised this will be their "best season yet."
In our first episode, it’s very much going to focus on the story of Terminus. There’s a lot of big revelations that haven’t really come out that I think people are gonna be pretty startled by. There’s a couple other revelations that I think people might’ve gotten a little bit of a lead on. We’ll definitely be defining those in some cool ways and confirming some theories and shooting down others, which is very exciting. But I think the coolest thing about coming back to season 5 is that we really hit the ground running. What I mean by that is that we very quickly deal with the situation that we left them in — this trapped, victim situation where they’re kind of at the mercy of the people of Terminus. We really kind of expand the story from there very rapidly, so I think this is going to be a pretty fast-paced season with quite a bit going on.
Season 5 will begin a little differently than previous seasons. Where before the show would pick up events after an eight month gap, here we come back right where we left off: with Rick and co. presumably up next on the menu for the residents of Terminus.
The speculation that Terminus will turn out to be town of cannibals was all but confirmed when the camera panned by a pile of human bones in the finale, but Kirkman's comments that fans have "a little bit of lead on" some of season 5's revelations implies this is one we've gotten right. And there's a precedence for coming across cannibals in the comics, though they never appeared as organized or unified as Terminus seems.
Kirman also comments - however vaguely - about Seth Gilliam's role in the upcoming season, choosing to neither confirm nor deny if The Wire alum (the series' third! Idris Elba, you're next) is playing a character from the comics, Father Gabriel Stokes:
He’s playing a character that’s very integral to the future of The Walking Dead. Who he is is possibly a very large hint to where the story is gonna go, if you’ve read the comic book series. So, we are playing that as close to the vest as the spy photos will allow, but all will be revealed very soon.
It sure sounds like Gilliam is playing Gabriel, even if Kirkman is keeping mum about those leaked set photos depicting Gilliam wearing a priest's collar. Whomever Gilliam is playing, he won't be the only new character appearing this season, as Kirkman teases:
There’s a lot of new stuff coming. Look, the thing that makes me the most proud of The Walking Dead is the fact that it is such a continually evolving show. We never rest on our laurels, we never go “that status quo works, let’s figure out a way to stay in that mode.” We’re always pushing boundaries and doing new things and changing the ways we tell stories. We tried some new things in season 4 and they worked pretty well and they helped tell some really great stories, and we’ve done that and now we’re moving on. We’re gonna do some new stuff, and a lot of that involves bringing in a lot of new characters. There’s going to be some big changes ahead, and it’s gonna all be cool stuff.
Obviously the townspeople of Terminus are included in that "new stuff", but who else could we expect to see? And what of Tyreese, Carol, and little baby, Judith? They are among the few who haven't yet arrived in Terminus - and while that seems to be the safer route for now, there's no telling what other threats are lurking out there for the human survivors in this world.
Lastly, no character has changed as much over the course of The Walking Dead as Rick Grimes, and we wonder which Rick we'll see in season 5? Kirkman promises a Rick that's ready for whatever unspeakable horror awaits him next:
All I’ll say about that is that the Rick that’s faced the Governor is very different from the Rick that is now gonna be facing the people of Terminus. As we saw in the final moments of season 4. I think that he’s definitely a more capable Rick and a more prepared Rick, and while the situation might actually be far more dire and deadly and dangerous, he’s possibly going to handle it much better. I think we’ll see a very different way of handling conflict this season.
That’s a place he gets to in the comic book series, and I know everyone’s been asking “When’s that guy coming? When are we gonna see that guy?” I can say with confidence that he’s here, and Andrew Lincoln is having, I think, a great time with it.
There were definitely hints of this new, confident, and exceedingly capable Rick during the back half last season, and that's good news for those survivors who don't want to be eaten or killed in some other gruesome fashion.
Do you buy that season 5 of The Walking Dead will really be the best one yet? And, seeing that Robert Kirkman suggests such a fast pace for this season, how quickly do you believe the show will wrap up with Terminus? Leave us a comment with your thoughts below!
The Walking Dead returns to AMC in October.