[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead. Read at your own risk!]
Just because Rick has staged two somewhat successful attacks against Woodbury on The Walking Dead, that doesn't mean he is regaining his sanity. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
On Sunday's midseason return, Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) walls came crashing down on him. As fatigue set in, he had visions of what appeared to be a zombified version of his dead wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), which led him to inadvertently banish Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and his group from the prison. The move was perhaps ill-advised: With The Governor (David Morrissey) on the war path, Rick & Co. are going to need the numbers to safeguard the prison. So, who will step up as leader?
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TVGuide.com caught up with executive producer and comic book creator Robert Kirkman to get the scoop on the impending war, whether Daryl (Norman Reedus) will regret his decision to leave the group, and a possible major change from the comic books that the writers may be implementing before the season is over.
How much further will Rick descend into madness?
Robert Kirkman: He hasn't quite reached the bottom yet. It's been a lot of fun showing his spiral into madness, with the phone and the vision of Shane and all the other things he's encountered. Now he's starting to see Lori. He's in a really bad place and it's coming at the exact wrong time. People are going to be looking to him as a leader and trying to find answers in this coming conflict, and Rick may not be available to them. They may have to rely on themselves. That's going to make this confrontation that much more explosive and that much more deadly. It's really a question of whether or not Rick is going to be get it together at all, and if he is, is he going to be able to get it together soon enough?
Will anyone in particular step up to lead the group?
Kirkman: We've definitely seen other characters taking on leadership roles at different times. Daryl has really stepped up and contributed quite a bit, but we've seen that he's out on his own with Merle (Michael Rooker), so he's not going to be there. But I think we will see some leadership coming from Glenn (Steven Yeun), Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Hershel (Scott Wilson) and definitely Carol (Melissa McBride). They've been shown to be very capable characters this season, and I think we'll be continuing to show they've got some hidden talents.
The Governor wants to take the prison and wants vengeance. Will the ultimate showdown take place in the finale?
Kirkman: There's definitely an escalation at play here, and the season finale is coming up in a few episodes, so that might be a safe bet.
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Is The Governor's judgment clouded because he's so desperate for vengeance?
Kirkman: It's possible. This episode, in particular, shows that The Governor is not really dealing with the death of Penny really well. Andrea (Laurie Holden) has had to step up and be more of a voice to the people of Woodbury to try to calm things down. That may spiral into something else, something more dangerous, as these episodes progress.
In that same vein, Glenn is so blinded by his hate for The Governor. Will he do something stupid and dangerous because of it?
Kirkman: I think this show has always been about watching these characters progress and change over time. Glenn's evolution as a character has been jump-started by his encounter with The Governor. We've seen a very different Glenn already in this episode, with his confrontation with Rick in the woods about taking Merle back to the prison. That's going to continue. He's dealing with a lot. His relationship with Maggie is under a lot of stress right now. There's a lot of conflict coming to the forefront. This is a guy who is going to step up. You're going to see a lot of really interesting stuff coming from Glenn. Steven Yeun does some pretty impressive work in these next few episodes.
When Andrea does reunite with the group, can they even trust her?
Kirkman: That's really an unknown. She spent more time out in the woods with Michonne than she did with the group. That group is a distant memory for her. A lot of time has passed since the farm. While she has changed and we don't really know what her opinion is of them, we also need to recognize what her perception is. She's going to come back to the prison and see very different people. She may think of them very differently and not really recognize them as the people she knew, or it could be a fantastic reunion.
Speaking of her time with Michonne (Danai Gurira), are we ever going to see flashbacks to that?
Kirkman: It's possible that we'll see a glimpse here and there. That's a seven month gap. I'm sure there's some interesting stuff that took place. The show is very much about moving forward and we've got a lot of story to tell and a lot of ground to cover, so we're never going to be spending too much time on flashbacks.
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Daryl chose Merle over the group. Will he come to regret that decision?
Kirkman: You'll find out in the next episode. Seeing Daryl and Merle together is a really exciting thing for the audience. Everyone is really pumped to see those two actors, Norman Reedus and Mike Rooker, doing scenes together. They're interacting now and doing things we've never really seen in the show before, so there are some really cool things moving forward.
The rest of Tyreese's group actually wanted to overtake the prison. Will that topic come up again?
Kirkman: Fans of the comic book know that Rick and Tyreese have a special and enduring relationship, a good friendship, and they're both able to lean on each other at times. It's interesting to note that because Tyreese is entering into this story in such a different way and [at] such a later period, they have a very different relationship. We could possibly see these two as enemies in this show. Who knows what the future holds?
Will we see any more casualties in the second half of the season?
Kirkman: It wouldn't surprise me. I'm not going to confirm or deny that, but it's a harsh, dangerous world. I don't think we'll ever go eight episodes without some kind of death. That's just the kind of show that we are. It would be extremely unlikely for us to make it to the end of the season without losing a couple more favorites.
Is that because you're trying to diverge more from the comics?
Kirkman: We always come back to the comics. They'll always be the road map from the show. We'll always be pulling big, major story lines from them, but I like to say the actors whose characters are still alive in the comic book or whose characters are dead in the comic book have no guarantees. We definitely like to keep people guessing.
Will The Walking Dead ever flash back to the zombie outbreak?
Is the only ultimate fate for The Governor to die? It's not like he can beat Rick, the show's hero.
Kirkman: Hey, we want to be known as the most unexpected show on television and the final frame of Season 3 could be Rick and The Governor holding hands and skipping off into the sunset. You never know.
Do you think The Governor and Rick can both survive the season? Hit the comments!
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.