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The Walking Dead has reached a fever pitch. Their Season 3 panel with Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, David Morrisey, Michael Rooker, and moderated by Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick has just finished and the buzz is maddening!

To kick things off they shared the first few minutes of the season premiere airing tomorrow night on AMC at 9pm, and it stands in stark contrast to last season. Since the clip was actually shared through the live-stream of the panel I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see it on the ‘net real soon. Basically, what we saw was Rick, Carl, Daryl, and T-Dog entering a home and checking to make sure it was clear of zombies. Carl even dispatches one with a headshot! That’s right, this Carl is carrying a gun and knows how to used it. Once the house is made safe Glenn and Maggie enter followed by Herschel, Beth, Carol, and a VERY preggers Lori.

There’s been a significant jump in time since we last saw these survivors and it’s made very evident in these opening moments. There’s no dialogue, the group is moving as one, as a cohesive unit who’s only mission is to survive. After resting in the home for a few moments walkers are spotted outside and they have to book it. Silently they exit out the back, head to the vehicles, and leave.

It’s a startling opening for the season, full of tension, and works well to whet your appetite for what will be a season, “full of zombie action,” as Hardwick promises. In fact, if there was to be a theme of this panel it’s this season’s got all the zombies we were looking for last year, and then some. Just to give some hint of what they mean, Lincoln says, “there are more zombie kills in this episode than in the whole of season one.” Whoa.

With their decision to jump ahead in time by several months we’re meeting a very different group than who we left last season. In particular, Carl has likely changed the most. Riggs calls his character a “darker” one but enjoys being able to play this different version of Carl. No more, “Where’s Carl?” or “Carl, stay in the fuckin’ house!”

Speaking of Carl, I think Chandler Riggs will have a future as a teen hearthrob because there was much love for him from the surprising amount of young girls asking questions at the panel. Actually, Kirkman was a little mortified at how many kids, say around 11-13 year olds, were fans who’d watched the show and read the comic. But after the young girls fawned over Riggs, their mothers were swooning for Norman Reedus.

His is a character we’ve seen grow a lot since Merle left, and as Reedus puts it, “he’s been away from the enforcement of his big brother,” and because of it is more loyal to the group, they’re his new family. Something we’ll see explored in this season is what kind of effect Merle’s return has on Daryl, and we’ll see their relationship being tested again and again. But in place of Merle it sounds like Daryl and Rick have been forming quite the bromance, Reedus calling Rick the brother Daryl wants to have.

And what of Merle? Rooker says, “I’m a tough asshole,” and leaves it at that. But really, what more do you need to know? We’ll see what Merle’s all about as the series progresses.


Enough on our returning characters, what about the new faces? Hardwick mentions, and rightly so, there were three things people have been demanding to see ever since the show began: Michonne, The Governor, and the prison. The trailers have already promised us we’ll be seeing the prison very soon, but Michonne was tantalizing teased at the end of last season and we’re desperately awaiting seeing her in action.

Gurira is pumped as well telling us Michonne kicks so much ass in this first episode, we won’t be disappointed with her. She continues, playing the katana-wielding badass is, “an intense, brutal joy.” As she puts it, Michonne isn’t just a surviver, she’s a “thriver,” and Gurira admires how smart she is to use what she’s got around her. Like the zombies she’s keeps as “pets”, Gurira calls it, “masterful.” Hearing her talk about Michonne only make me more excited to finally get to see her. Tomorrow, get here faster!

And, The Governor. I don’t know if there’s ever been such a vile character as The Governor and everyone is in anticipation for what David Morrisey will bring to the role. Interestingly, Morrisey mentions that his Governor isn’t the same man as in the comics when we first meet him. This Governor is actually somewhere in between The Governor of Kirkman’s recent novel, The Rise of The Governor, and the man we met in the comics. I think this is going to add an interesting spin to the character, having him interact with Rick earlier on in his evolution to psychotic villain. Morrisey continues calling The Governor different, but very, “in the spirit of him.” I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see him and the Woodbury he rules over with an iron fist.

Lastly, Kirkman promises us, “there’s a lot of dark stuff on the horizon,” and Rooker adds, “this show is just beautifully brutal.” Oh, I am pumped! Are you?

The Walking Dead returns tomorrow night on AMC at 9pm!

Make sure you stay glued to Nerd Bastards for all your NYCC coverage! More to come!

 

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