July 10, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT

Those at Friday’s The Walking Dead panel at San Diego Comic-Con were treated to an exclusive first look at the AMC series’ anticipated sixth season, which kicks off with an extended 90-minute premiere on Oct. 11, and intelligence from the cast about what’s in store now that Rick Grimes and company have reached Alexandria. 

The trailer mixes new and old footage and teases a season that emphasizes an ongoing power struggle, both between both Rick’s band of outsiders and Alexandria residents and between Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Morgan (Lennie James), who returned at the end of season 5. 

But before you analyze every second, showrunner Scott Gimple warned that you shouldn’t trust everything you see. “We sometimes play with the truth in trailers,” Gimple said. “Rick is absolutely faced with challenges with way he does things. … Things may not be what they seem.”

The 13-person panel, hosted by Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick, went on to detail what’s in store on Oct. 11. Noticeably absent was co-creator Robert Kirkman, who was sick, but there in spirit as producers brought paddles with cut-outs of his bearded face, holding them up whenever he was mentioned. 

Makeup designer Greg Nicotero says this season, they’re taking the zombie effects even further and pushing decomposition. Take, for example, the half-zombie, half-swamp man creature seen in the new trailer, who emerges from the woods to Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) dismay. That zombie is called “The Bernie Wrightson,” as it’s inspired by Bernie Wrightson’s comic book art.

In addition to new zombies, season 6 will see the return of Morgan, who actor Lennie James says had one important motivation for finding Rick: “Rick is the only man left on Earth who knows him.” But where was he all this time?

“He was painting. Getting to know himself,” James joked. “We may find [the answer to that question] out this season. One of the things he was doing was trying to find Rick. And now it appears he wishes he hadn’t.” 

Other big news: the wolves from the end of season 5 will appear in “surprising” ways this season.

Joining the cast for season 6 are Corey Hawkins, Grace and Frankie actor Ethan Embry, and Nurse Jackie actress Merritt Wever. Wever will play a character from the comic, but no further details are known.

But don’t worry, the cast also answered the important questions. Like, what’s Reedus’ favorite emoji? “I like the red balloon,” he offered. Also, to get in character, Reedus prefers “a lot of Motörhead. A lot of coffee. I play Candy Crush a lot.”

Furthermore, Andrew Lincoln answered the question on everyone’s mind: Does he miss the beard? Even though his wife may not, he admits he does. “The most painful part was looking at my face as I shave,” he said. 

Co-star Steven Yeun seemed to agree: “You look like you have a shrunken head.”

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