Shooting up a barn full of zombies is the least of the survivors' worries when The Walking Dead returns Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.
Now that Shane has taken a stand against Rick (Andrew Lincoln), the group will begin to crack under the pressure of choosing sides. Plus: New threats arise once the group realizes they're not the only people who have survived the zombiepocalypse. TVGuide.com sat down with executive producers Robert Kirkman and Glen Mazzara to get the scoop on the second half of Season 2:
How will the group be divided following the barn massacre?
Glen Mazzara: The group's divided between Rick, who has been holding out hope that they're going to find Sophia, and Shane (Jon Bernthal), who felt that it was a mistake and feels that he is a better leader than Rick. That rivalry will divide the group. It causes a lot of tension right in the first scene. Part of the thing to consider is that Shane did not realize that Sophia was in there, so he is also dealing with that loss, which is interesting because we were able to pull another side out of Shane and see that he's really confused about what happened, about what it means; the fact that he realizes that he's done something that has damaged the group, but in an odd way was right for the group.
Will the group start taking sides between Rick and Shane?
Robert Kirkman: Well that's already occurred to a certain extent. I mean, we saw the people get the guns and run to the barn with Shane. It wasn't just Shane that was doing this thing. And also, Shane and Rick have been at odds to a certain extent up to this point already. But now Shane feels oddly vindicated by finding Sophia and proving that Rick was wrong and she wasn't out there, and he shouldn't have been doing that. So that's just going to fuel that fire moving into these next few episodes.
Will the fact that Lori's baby could possibly be Shane's start to eat away at Rick?
Kirkman: It's a testament to his strength as a character that he is able to bottle that up and handle it the way he's handled it for the sake of the group. He is taking that information and just dealing with it and dealing with the problems that affect the other people as opposed to the problems that affect him.
Mazzara: Rick is convinced that baby is his. Shane is convinced that baby is his. Both men are prepared to go to extraordinary means to win that argument.
Hershel (Scott Wilson) already told them to get off his farm. Now that he's lost most of his family all over again, what are we going to see for him?
Mazzara: Everything Hershel believes has been stripped away and he is dealing with a massive loss: not only the loss of his family, but also the loss of hope. He realizes, in one sense, he's been a fool, that he's been holding on to false hope. He hits a low point and then has to make choices about how does he go back. How does he survive for the sake of his daughters, for the sake of the people on his farm? As he struggles to make his way back, that'll also put him in opposition with Shane.
Kirkman: While he's suffering this loss of hope and trying to deal with his problems, it actually leads us into a new threat and it causes the group to encounter something that is going to be very dangerous. There's going to be an exciting element in this new half of the season.
If Hershel does force the group to leave, will Glen (Steven Yeun) decide to stay and be with Maggie (Lauren Cohan)?
Mazzara: That's the choice to be made. What happens to Glen and Maggie? What's interesting is that the events on the farm affect that relationship. That story line is very, very important to us. It was just a fun, desperate romp between two lonely people, and after Sophia's death, they're thrown together in a more significant way, but also being torn apart by events.
If Glen and Maggie are the couple who jumped straight into the sack, would you say Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) are the slow burn?
Mazzara: Darryl and Carol have a very, very interesting relationship which the audience will be very surprised to see how it develops in the back half of this season. Nobody can anticipate what's going to happen. I know there's a lot of expectation on certain fronts, but what happens in a particular scene will be very, very surprising that will completely make sense in relation to the two characters. It's a good scene. You know the scene I'm talking about?
Kirkman: Oh yeah. I know exactly what you're talking about...Where Glen and Maggie are a beacon of hope in this dark world — coming together, finding love, seemingly being happy despite all odds — Carol and Darryl are some of our most damaged characters in the show. They have definitely lived through some of the worst stuff, and for them to find each other is going to be a somewhat interesting and nuanced relationship, but whether it's going to be romantic remains to be seen.
Will the news that Shane killed Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince) ever get out?
Kirkman: Well it's already come out to a certain extent. Dale knows, so it's definitely hanging out there. Whether or not everyone else will find out is going to have to remain a mystery for a while. The world of The Walking Dead isn't our world, and it's something that you're going to have to recognize. At the end of the day when we're watching this show and go, "Oh my God, everybody's going to find out that Shane killed this guy." I mean that's horrible, but that's this world. The world in this show is a very different place where people are dealing with very different problems. At the end of the day, it could be a huge deal and it may not.
Mazzara: Right and what's important in the next part of the season is the events that are taking place during those episodes. We're not so much interested in looking back at old business. There's a lot of new action, activity and drama that is happening in these six episodes. We hit the ground hard. We have a surprising twist at the end of the first episode back, and by the end of those six episodes it feels like a huge apocalypse.
What can you tell us about the new threats the group will face?
Mazzara: Let's say this: In these new episodes, the farm is no longer safe. The outside world is crashing in. Our characters have been fooled like Hershel was fooled into thinking they're safe, into thinking that the tragedy around them is not going to affect them. That's not true, and when Shane breaks open the barn, that bubble is broken.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.