The destruction of the prison during The Walking Dead's midseason finale served as a reset of sorts. Once again, the group of survivors we've known and loved over the past four seasons are on their own. But it's that exact reason why this world is the most dangerous it's ever been for those who had come to expect a level of security while living in the prison. Will Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) survive? More importantly, how will the rest of the group fare without the man who once led them to safety? TVGuide.com caught up with executive producer Robert Kirkman to get the scoop on what's next:
Talk about where the show is picking up following the fall of the prison.
Robert Kirkman: We open the second half of Season 4 mere seconds after the fall of the prison. We really pick up in the aftermath of all that and hit the ground running. Our characters are in the most dangerous position since the beginning of the series. Everybody is separated and out on their own. We're really going to put these characters through their paces. This is going to be the biggest trouble that they've faced thus far. We're going to see them come out of it on the other end very changed and very affected by the events that have transpired. But despite the fall of the prison and everybody being scattered to the wind, all of those dangling plot threads will be resolved.
What can you say about the format of the second half?
Kirkman: We're really shaking up the format for these last eight episodes of Season 4. We're going to be making things structurally as unexpected as the stories have been so far. Some episodes will be like the first one back when we focus on just a few characters, some will focus on many. You're never really going to know what kind of episode you're going to get. It's going to be a pretty cool mix of different types of storytelling techniques.
We already discussed the state of Rick and Carl when the show picks up. Talk about some of the other group members who have been separated from them.
Kirkman: Daryl (Norman Reedus) is a character who has really allowed himself to be defined by this new environment that he had found himself in. This is a guy who has had a pretty bad life and became kind of a bad guy because of it up until the part where he met this group and transformed himself around this group. He rose to the challenge of helping these people survive. In a sense, it's made his life better for it. Now he's had all of that stripped away. Daryl Dixon, more than any other character, is really going to be struggling with the idea of, "How do you carry on and where do you go from here?"
Any chance he'll be reunited with Carol (Melissa McBride)?
Kirkman: They've certainly both been exiled from the prison, in a sense, so they're both out in the open. It's entirely possible that they could cross paths if Carol has survived.
What's in store for Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan)?
Kirkman: It's interesting to note that Glenn was not in very good shape. He was still fighting that illness that a lot of them had been suffering from. For that attack to happen at that time and for him to be on that bus and out of the prison the way that he was, he's very much still in danger. Whether or not he's going to be able to survive out there is a huge question. He and Maggie are separated. Logically, I would assume that the two of them are going to be very focused on trying to find each other. It's entirely possible that they don't know whether or not the other one is alive. Nobody knows who else survived.
[Warning: Fans who have not read the comics may want to skip this question.] With Glenn struggling with all of that, he doesn't need to be worried about a certain baseball bat, right?
Kirkman: [Laughs] I don't think we're going to see that bat any time soon, but eventually.
We saw a little bit of the Rick and Tyreese (Chad Coleman) relationship we know from the comics in the first half. Will we see more in the back half?
Kirkman: There's certainly a possibility. But it's all a huge question mark about whether any of these characters will be able to reunite. It's possible some groups might find each other, but it's very iffy. There has to be some catalyst that would provide the possibility of all of these different groups finding themselves. If that doesn't present itself, it's entirely possible that Rick and Tyreese may never encounter each other again.
When will we get a sense of what happened to baby Judith?
Kirkman: It's definitely a big unknown for Rick and Carl. Carl especially is fairly certain that his sister is dead, but there is an answer to that question. We won't end the fourth season without you getting an answer to whether or not that baby is alive.
If the first half of the season was heading towards the loss of the prison, what is the second half about?
Kirkman: It's a more personal, more emotional journey for all of these characters. It's finding the will to survive and finding out if they're capable of surviving on their own and whether or not they are able to complete that emotional journey is really the focus of this back half.
Can you say anything as to how more characters from the comics — specifically Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) — come in?
Kirkman: Their arrival is very much closely based on what their arrival is in the comic book series. Comic book fans may have a leg up on television viewers as to what may be coming up. You won't be waiting for them too terribly long.
And is there a possibility we'll see Alexandria soon?
Kirkman: Everything is a possibility. One of the fun things about this series is the fact that it is based on a comic book series that people can read, but the adaptation is always done in a way, by design, that you can't really predict when we're going to be adapting certain things. Logically, the arrival of Alexandria is set up by the arrival of Abraham, Eugene and Rosita, but it's not set in stone that that's actually going to happen in the TV show.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.