The 2013 Paley Fest kicked off its programming on Friday night with a Walking Dead panel moderated by Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick. Starting with a line that stretched around the block to get into the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills almost two hours before the event was scheduled to begin, the audience remained enthusiastic throughout.
During a brief sneak peek of Sunday’s episode, the crowd cheered with delight, laughed, and gasped as if on cue. Even Hardwick was somewhat astonished at the collective viewing consensus. EW was on the scene to find out what we could from the tight-lipped cast and producers. Click past the jump for the 10 things that we learned from the panel and the red carpet.
1. Character development will play a big role in Season Four.
“I think there may be a wee bit less of the run and gun. And [we’ll] get a little more into some of our characters,” Executive Producer Greg Nicotero told EW. “The challenge with a show like this, when you have a big ensemble, is you don’t want any of the characters to get lost; it’s important that we know what Carol’s story is and that we know what Beth’s story is. And when you’re trying to service a lot of characters, it becomes challenging. Watching the first season of Walking Dead and seeing how grounded it was, that’s really important to all of us. Andy Lincoln and I spent a lot of time going through the scripts and making sure we feel that they’re grounded. Because that’s what keeps our audience coming back. The walkers and the gore and the action and stuff, that’s fun, that’s the popcorn part of it. But if you don’t have characters that people are invested in, you lose your audience.”
2. Rick’s descent into madness won’t last for long
Even though Carl doesn’t seem to think that he’s fit to lead anymore, Andrew Lincoln assured EW that Rick isn’t going to be this way forever. “I think you’ll see in the next episode a turning point happens and he realizes his responsibilities. And hopefully he’ll come back from the brink. But certainly since the death of Lori and the pressure imposed by The Governor, he is in a state of shock, grief, and stress, and he has had a breakdown. It’s tough times for Rick, but it’s always tough times for him, isn’t it? He never gets a day off, this guy.” Later in the panel, Lincoln came back to Carl’s criticism: “He has a point. I have been making some terrible calls. So, you know, bless him. Parenting in the apocalypse.”
3. Daryl could lead, but he’d probably rather not
Norman Reedus immediately deflected the idea that he’s become the fan favorite. “We all have our people,” he said. But when asked whether or not he thinks Daryl has the capacity to step up and lead the group, Reedus was much more assured. “I don’t think he wants to be the leader in any way. Like with Randall, remember Randall? There’s a whole episode about ‘what do we do with Randall’ and Daryl just kind of quietly went in there and beat the s— out of him and came back with bloody knuckles and was like ‘yeah, what’s up?’ He wasn’t like ‘look at me, look what I did!” I think if he had to lead, it would be reluctantly,” said Reedus. “He doesn’t want to talk about feelings or make you feel better about the future. He just does stuff. He gets it done.”
4. What Glenn really wants
Steven Yeun said in Glenn’s perfect world, “The Governor would be dead and he would be happy with Maggie in a field full of…food.” He said his world would be like a savory Willy Wonka factory. With steak trees.
5. Everyone is scared of Carl the child soldier
Lincoln said of Carl’s recent changes: “I see a boy turning into a soldier, which is a terrifying thing. And I think that that story between the group, the family, and this seemingly wayward boy turning into a child soldier is a terrifying and very interesting arc that we follow in the last five episodes.”
6. Andrea does not have feelings for The Governor anymore
Laurie Holden told EW: “I think she thinks The Governor is disgusting at this point. She didn’t sleep with him because she was having a weak moment. She slept with him because she had every intention of doing what Carol suggested. But it’s not easy to just slit someone’s throat when they’re sleeping. She doesn’t have all the information. She doesn’t know about Maggie, but at this point it doesn’t matter. He’s gross to her.” In the panel discussion, Hardwick referred to the almost murder as “Carol’s creepy vagina warfare,” causing Reedus and Lincoln to fall apart laughing.
7. Shipping Daryl and Carol
An audience member asked if we’re ever going to see them make out. Reedus said, “I like these two damaged people gravitating towards each other. It might happen…I don’t want to make the first move.” Reedus added, “I don’t think he has much game.” Given the shrieks that comment solicited, either he actually does have game, or he doesn’t and his female fans just don’t care.
8. Andrea and Michonne: not a cat fight
Holden told the audience that “Andrea and Michonne are two adult women who wanted different things. Andrea did not choose a guy over her. After eight months she wanted a life and she wanted a community. I think this one [Michonne] could have ended up anywhere and she would have been unhappy.” She added, “I think that she didn’t want to share Andrea with anybody. She was happy when it was just the two of them. And I wish that they really had been able to have a deeper conversation before Michonne left those gates.”
8. If Season Two ended with a hopeful cliffhanger…
“I would say [the Season Three finale] is the opposite of last year. In every way,” Holden said.
9. Season Four is underway
Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd told EW that “the writer’s room has cooked up the first eight episodes, and they’ll probably start writing next week. And we start shooting May 6. We’re still finishing the season finale – editing and music.”
10. If you’re a fan, they’re listening to what you have to say
Comic creator and Executive Producer Robert Kirkman told EW, “we have the best fans in the world. If you go to the site, you see the message boards and can find out what they like and what they don’t like. We look at that, so we know sort of what fans want and what we don’t. They’ve given us a lot of interesting ideas. We’re ultimately going to do something that’s entirely unique and ours, but the fans are going to be very happy.” Sometimes the suggestions aren’t entirely helpful, but amusing nonetheless. Kirkman said, “we get a lot of requests for zombie animals.” EP David Alpert added, jokingly, “I’m not going to rule out seeing a zombie polar bear in Season Four. Because you never know.”