Image Credit: AMC The sophomore season of AMC’s zombie horror-fest The Walking Dead aims to be even darker and, um, dead-er, when it returns to the cable network sometime in October. It’s hard to imagine that a series full of zombified loved ones receiving bullets or pick axes to the head could get any more intense, but that’s what the producers and cast promised Friday at the Paley Center’s tribute to the show in Los Angeles.

Executive Producer Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) described season two as “challenging, dark s—.” The deepening love triangle between Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Shane (Jon Bernthal) will be a focus, as will the characters adapting to a harsh new world. Forget the threat of zombies: They now have to contend with contaminated water, a lack of medicine, and more than a few standard explosions.

Darabont also promised that season two will start off where season one left off, noting that he wants his characters in a “reactive phase.” He said they’ll be “testing the possibilities” of the violent Merle (Michael Rooker), whom some fans suspect may be the Governor, a twisted and iconic character from the comic.

Rounding out the panel Friday was Executive Producers Robert Kirkman (who wrote the graphic novel) and executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, along with cast members Lincoln, Bernthal, Callies, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun and Emma Bell. Kirkman and Darabont agreed that fans of the graphic novel should expect the show to deviate from the comic, as Kirkman insisted his canon “is not law.”

Filming is expected to begin in May.

Just over 6 million people tuned in for the Dec. 5 season finale of Dead, making it the most-watched episode of the season. (An additional 2.1 million viewers took in the show during its 11 p.m and 1 a.m. encore airings.) With an average of 3.5 million viewers over its six-episode season aged 18 to 49, the zombie series is now the most watched drama series in basic cable history in the ad-favored demo.

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