WARNING. Article Contains Walking Dead Season 4 SPOILERS.
The Walking Dead returns in a little over a month to continue its domination of the TV airwaves. When last we saw our band of survivors in the zombie apocalypse, they had been rooted from their prison stronghold by the invading forces of the The Governor, and spent the latter half of season 4 scattered in odd pair groups along the road to the last bastion town called "Terminus." When (most of) the group finally did arrive at the supposed safe-haven, they were quickly herded up and locked away, like cattle on their way to an abattoir.
The Walking Dead season 5 trailer released during Comic-Con 2014 showed a more complicated resolution to the season 4 finale. Rick's band of survivors apparently band together with the Terminus group, in the hope of getting Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) to Washington, D.C., where he can supposedly cure the zombie outbreak. Of course, Rick and Co. aren't the most trusting of individuals at this point; them traveling with a rival gang (who may or may not be cannibals) is going to bring some tensions to the surface, to say the least.
AMC has released a new Walking Dead season 5 poster, which illustrates what kind of tense new season we're in for:
While at Comic-Con 2014, we sat down with the cast and creators of The Walking Dead and talked about the season 5 arc (16 episodes in two halves) - including how the presence of a much bigger mission (saving the world) will affect the pace of a show that has - until now - been concerned with day-to-day survival.
Walking Dead comic book creator (and show executive producer) Robert Kirkman claims that the change in formula may be something of a shock to some fans; however, at this stage in the show's life (season 5), the cast and crew are wholly unafraid of going for something ambitiously different:
Robert Kirkman: This mission - you're talking about the mission to Washington? I mean you're doing season 5 - do you really want to see another season of people, you know, just surviving and fighting zombies? No! That's not we want to do. I'm really proud of the show for the fact that it is so successful, but never at any point has anyone at any level of this operation said, "No that's working, don't change it."
And I think that's what most people would do; but we're always taking risks, we're always taking chances, and we're always moving forward and doing cool stuff. And yeah, there are going to be episodes that are vastly different, you know? There are going to be times you're watching season 5 and go, "What is this show? Like this is crazy! I can't believe they're doing this!" But that's what we're after - that's what keeps people engaged and excited and keeps people watching. And if not, we'll just have them kill zombies again and that's all they'll do. Because if it's working we're not going to break it.
Walking Dead producer Gale Anne Hurd also addressed the mission to Washington - and how the introduction of hope for a cure will balance out the doom and gloom of the series - which was especially dark and depressing throughout most of season 4:
Gale Anne Hurd: Yes, absolutely. There is that oscillation. We don't want a show that's so doom and gloom that it feels as if there is no hope. If there is no hope, then why are we watching? Why are the characters still hoping against hope?
...You know, I think hope is essential. As a species we need hope. Because we're beyond animals - we're not just, "How do we eat today? Where do we sleep today?" They [the survivors] have gotten to that level as well ("How do we eat, how do we sleep safely?"), but that's not enough for humanity. What they need is hope. They need hope.
I don't know of another animal that will probably knowingly and knowledgeably commit suicide - and you can give up as a hero. But our characters have each other to live for. And sometimes we need to rescue - like one of our characters is missing (Beth), and that can be enough drive. Or it can be "I have a family" (whether it's baby Judith and Carl) - or it's a community of people who didn't know each other before. That's all family. And they're living to find a safe haven for their family - as well as the potential hope that there's a cure out there.
This all supposes that the hope driving the expedition from Terminus to Washington, D.C. is a lasting and fruitful one. (I.e., that Eugene can survive long enough to make it there - and then, deliver the hope he is dangling overhead.) But as so often is the case with The Walking Dead, just as the characters (and subsequently we, the viewers) begin to believe in a brighter day, something horrific (like a major character death - or some act of violence so gruesome it gives us nightmares) pops up and reminds us that nothing is sweet and lovely in the world after the dead have risen.
...However, as a positive BONUS to keep everyone's spirits up, here are Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan talking to EW about what's next for their lovebird characters, Glenn and Maggie:
As you can see, The Walking Deadreturns on Sunday, October 12 @9/8c on AMC.
Source: AMC & EW