At this point last year, we were already getting regular updates from the Georgia-based set of AMC’s hit zombie drama The Walking Dead. So far this off-season we’ve seen a picture of protagonist Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and got news about a new cast member in the form of The Wire alum Seth Gilliam, but that’s about it (for some reason I don’t think that rap battle with Walter White is official). Executive producer, and comic book creator Robert Kirkman says this is an intentional move on the part of the production, but that didn’t stop him from talking about season five.
Filming recently started on the next season of The Walking Dead and, according to Kirkman, talking to Entertainment Weekly, “There’s been a lot more secrecy on set.” The reason for this is the way season four wrapped up. Over the course of the TV show’s relatively brief lifespan, there has always been a passage of time that elapses from the time one ends until the next installment begins. If you watched season four, you know that it ended with many of the primary characters in peril, trapped in a boxcar in the settlement known as Terminus.
Given the nature of the ending, if the wrong photo or bit of information were to leak out, it could ruin what the series has worked so hard to set up. Kirkman continues:
Just because any images that get out of any kind of things that are seen do in a sense spoil that cliffhanger, so we’re trying to keep things a little more tight this time around. There’s always people crowding around where we’re filming and trying to get spy spots of what we’re doing and stuff, but for the most part we’ve been able to avoid that. This is the first time we’ve really finished a season and gone back to the same place for the next season, so that’s kind of cool.
Understandably, Kirkman didn’t get into the specifics of season five, but, following on what was far and away the best run in the show’s history, his enthusiasm definitely shines through. He says:
We’re doing new and different and crazy and exciting things and now I think the atmosphere is that we can’t wait until we can start sharing things with people and start showing things to people because we’re really excited about what we’re doing here. We think we’re making another magical season.
In the second half of season four, with the group of survivors splintered after the showdown at the prison, the writers had the chance to tell smaller stories about one or two characters per episode. This led to the most intense and earnest character work The Walking Dead has ever displayed. The final episode of the season, “A,” eschewed this quieter stance for a more action oriented approach, and from what Kirkman says, season five will, at least at the beginning, continue this. He says:
I think this show works best with a cycle or ramping up and ramping down…and lulling people into a sense of security and speeding things up and keeping them on guard. I will say that we definitely start this season in an up cycle, whereas last season we definitely started the season in a down cycle. So we’re certainly changing things up in that respect and we’re gonna kind of hit the ground running this season.
Season five of The Walking Dead doesn’t premiere until October of this year, but you can revisit season four on Blu-ray and DVD starting August 26. The first half of the season can be a slog, but the last eight episodes are totally worth the trip.