Tonight, the third season of The Walking Dead premieres. The show seems poised to make it to the next level with fan-favorite storylines from the books finally being used for the TV series. More importantly, the show now seems ready for these storylines by becoming a popular television series in its own right rather than coasting on name recognition and being the only zombie-horror show on television. At yesterday’s New York Comic-Con panel for the show, it was all about the fans and letting them pick the brains of the cast and creators before the walkers come shambling back into our homes.
Hit the jump for my panel recap of The Walking Dead, and click here for all of our New York Comic-Con coverage.
The panel opens with a wordless extended clip from tonight’s season premiere. I won’t recap it here since A) You’ll be seeing it tonight; and B) I missed all of season two, so I don’t know all of the characters any more, and my recap wouldn’t do it justice. I will say that the fans in the crowd went absolutely nuts for it, so if you’re a Walking Dead fan, you probably won’t be disappointed by the season three premiere.
Then stars Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, David Morrissey, Michael Rooker, Norman Reedus, producer Gale Anne Hurd, and creator/writer Robert Kirkman come on stage. Moderator Chris Hardwicke, who also hosts AMC’s series Talking Dead, says that he’s excited for the audience to see the season premiere.
Kirkman says they really hit the ground running in the new season and the show is back in a big way.
Lincoln says the season has been pretty intense, and on the first day of filming he was told that there were more zombie kills in the season 3 premiere than in all of season one combined. He then says at one point he made the mistake of asking the writers, “What is Rick’s breaking point?” He goes on to say that this season jumps forward in time, and the group has evolved beyond all recognition, in particular Carl. “Chandler Riggs is killing it in every sense of the word this season.” Riggs adds that it’s almost like playing a completely different character.
Going to Norman Reedus, Reedus gets the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to his son Mingus. Such is the power of celebrity at the Walking Dead panel. Back to the show, Reedus says Daryl will do anything to protect the group, and he feels value on people relying on him. He’s more sensitive and more aggressive at this point.
Hardwicke then moves to talking to Gurira, and how her character Michonne kicks so much ass in the season premiere. Talking about joining the show, Gurira says it’s been an amazing show to be a part of, and says it’s been an intense, brutal joy. When we get to see her in the show, we see her not just as a survivor, “but a thriver…She’s now been able to recreate herself as a formidable force in this world.” As for the pets, Michonne sees how to use them for her advantage, which further shows off the character’s intelligence.
Moving on to David Morrissey, we get to talk about The Governor. He says he doesn’t necessarily see the character as “evil” in that the character wouldn’t call himself evil. He used Kirkman’s “The Rise of the Governor” as a starting point. “He’s evil,” interjects Lincoln.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen all of season one and two]
- Kirkman is horrified by little kids being the first one to ask questions. One kid asks Riggs if he would like Carl wants a girlfriend now that Sophia is a dead. “How do I say this without spoiling anything…” says Riggs, and then he talks about how Carl is 13 and Beth is 17 so…maybe. “Do you know how creepy that question would have been if you had been thirty?” Hardwicke asks the audience member.
- The webisodes will remain their own thing and augment the world rather than “steal any story from it” says Kirkman.
- When asked about their favorite weapon that their character doesn’t use in the show, here’s the rundown: Lincoln: flamethrower, Riggs: Lancer (from Gears of War), Reedus: bazooka, Gurira: backup samurai sword, Morrissey: Chuck Norris (just for the fun value), Rooker: rocket launcher.
- Talking about Daryl, “I don’t pay attention to him or care about him because he’s not in the comic,” jokes Kirkman. But in seriousness, he likes having TV-only characters because they allow him to do something new and fun.
- Riggs can’t say if he wanted to kill Shane, but by then he realized that he couldn’t live in this world without “becoming a man, I guess.” Hardwicke cuts in, “If Rick got bitten, would you kill him?” “Yes,” says Riggs without missing a beat. “That’s my boy,” says Lincoln.
- Reedus says Daryl looked so hard for Sophia because he has a history of being an abused child, and there was a friendship with Carol that he tried to keep going because they’re both damaged people. “But I think Daryl has no game. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to be a move on him…I just can’t see him cuddling. At least not yet.”
- Reedus says Merle coming back will cause Daryl to regress a little bit. But he says Daryl is still like the drunk uncle you bring to a Christmas party and say, “Shut up, man! Shut up!”
- Lincoln says this season opens up into two camps, two men, and two ideologies. “The zombies becomes less of a threat than the human threat. I’m going to the dark side this season.”
- For Kirkman, finding a cure to the zombie apocalypse and solving the problem would be boring. It’s the survival that’s much more engaging.
- Morrissey says the Governor in the TV series is going to be slightly different, but “still out there…Without giving anything away, it’s in the spirit of him.”
- There will big events in the comics that might not necessarily happen in the TV series.
The Walking Dead premieres tonight at 9/8c on AMC.