[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the upcoming season of The Walking Dead as well as the comics that inspired the AMC series. Read at your own risk.]
The prison setting for the third season of The Walking Dead may offer Rick (Andrew Lincoln) & Co. some semblance of safety, but if the group ever expects to survive, the group's new dictator — or Ricktator — must first get his own house in order.
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At the end of Season 2, Rick's wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) pulled a Lady MacBeth and essentially told him to kill Shane (Jon Bernthal), lest the group fall victim to his increasingly manic, dangerous behavior. However, once Rick murdered Shane — whose zombie reincarnation was then killed by Rick's son Carl (Chandler Riggs) — Lori turned her back on him. What does this mean for the "first family" of the survivors?
"Part of that horror you saw in that last episode was revulsion in her part in that," executive producer Glen Mazzara explains. "I think she blames herself. I don't know if she did intend to put Rick in motion, but she did. They have to deal with that."
Repairing a marriage during a zombie apocalypse won't be easy, especially considering Shane could be the father of Lori's child. "They don't know whose child that is," Mazzara continues. "They have to figure out what they can do. They can't get divorced. How do you repair that marriage in front of everybody? It's such a tight group. It affects everybody in the group, that strife within that marriage."
Their first step to recovery will be finding common ground, Callies says. "Lori's fear is that, in killing Shane, Rick became Shane and that he's turned into a man who's not a humane, compassionate person, but somebody who is now somewhat cold and bloodthirsty," she says. "But Rick's fear is that Lori will reject him and will refuse to see that everything he's doing for her he's doing out of love for her and his family. The two of them are so mired in self-hatred and shame right now that they can't reach out to one another. That's a big rift to find a way to cross."
That certainly won't be an easy road for Rick to walk down, considering he told the group in that finale that he'll be solely responsible for making all the major decisions from now on. "I think he's become more uncompromising certainly in the third season," Lincoln says. "He's sick and tired of people dragging their heels and talking. He's had to kill his best friend for this group of people. He's furious and he's conflicted. That's human. Certainly in the first six episodes of Season 3, the pressure that they're under is enormous."
Still, Lincoln says Rick won't completely go down the same path as Shane. "[Rick] is a man that begins in one place as a sheriff — he couldn't be more of an embodiment of law and order — and he just gets thrown into this leadership role," Lincoln says of Rick's journey throughout the series. "You're sort of still rooting for this guy, though actually he hasn't made some of the greatest decisions, because he's driven by a moral center still."
While Rick is leading the group to what will hopefully be a safe place, Callies says Lori's role in the third season will be more subdued considering her pregnancy. "A big role for her is seeking redemption and she's very anxious to make sure that her pregnancy doesn't end up putting anyone in jeopardy," Callie says. "She wants to make sure that good people don't put themselves in danger to protect her because she feels deeply unworthy of that right now. At the same time, she's got a real desire to create a home. Whereas Rick can see a fortress, Lori is the one who turns that fortress into a home. That's her goal."
Lori won't be the only one of Shane's former lovers that Rick will have to make amends with in the third season. Presumed dead after the group escaped from the farm, Andrea (Laurie Holden) will hopefully intersect with the group again — the new trailer shows her and new ally Michonne (Danai Gurira) in the clutches of The Governor (David Morrissey) in the town of Woodbury. "I can't wait to find out what happens between those two characters because of the betrayal," Lincoln says.
While Rick and Lori attempt to repair their marriage, an even more pressing matter lies on the horizon. (SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't read the comics, just head to the comments section now to discuss the upcoming third season. If you have read the comics, continue reading!) The group's arrival at the prison marks a huge turning point in the comic series. It's the setting where Lori, along with her newborn child, meets her maker in one of the more gruesome sections of the comics. Though the AMC series has continued to stray from the source material, Callies says she's been preparing herself for the inevitable.
"On a show like The Walking Dead, you know that your very first scene brings you one scene closer to the scene where you're going to get iced," Callies says. "That's just the nature of the beast. [Former showrunner] Frank Darabont and I actually — before he was tragically and unfairly removed from the show — we used to argue about it. I argued that it was necessary to kill Lori. I feel very strongly that for all of the other deviations that we have from the script that we may have from the comic book, killing Lori does something to Rick that is vital for the story and that can't be done any other way. I've said from the beginning, not only am I OK with Lori dying, but I think she has to. I've played this character with an eye toward an end."
Would you be sad if that happened? Hit the comments with your thoughts on the third season of The Walking Dead, which premieres Sunday, Oct. 14 at 9/8c on AMC.