AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead is the biggest show on TV, a massive popularity that has always been a bit of a surprise considering how bloody and violent it is. Over the previous seasons, it’s been uneven, to put it mildly, but over the last eight episodes—the second half of season 4—it’s been better and more consistent than ever before. And with season 5 dropping in just over a week, on Sunday, October 12, the upcoming episodes are looking more and more promising. A new featurette with lots of cast and crew interviews has now appeared online, and my anticipation has never been higher for The Walking Dead, except for maybe right before the series premiere in 2010.
If you’ve read much of what we’ve written here about The Walking Dead, you probably know that I have something of a rocky relationship with the series. This video, however, feels like they’re talking directly to me. No joke, the cast and producers hit on just about every major issue that I have with the show, and it feels like they’re patting me on the head, saying, “It’s okay, little buddy, we got you on this one.” It’s actually quite reassuring, and while I’m trying to temper my expectations, I find myself getting legitimately excited as season 5 of The Walking Dead approaches.
You begin with talk about the unknown nature of season 5, and given how season 4 concludes, uncertain is definitely one way to describe their situation. This is called a “season of extremes,” and it is noted that the survivors’ experiences at Terminus are going to shape them moving forward.
Zombies, themselves, are kind of boring, and work best as a looming threat, not necessarily in the foreground. It’s how people react to them and this new situation that are truly interesting, and showrunner Scott Gimple and producer Gale Anne Hurd say that season 5 is going to focus more on the human interactions. The walkers will still be there, but more as something that casts sinister, dangerous overtones over everything else, not as a focal point or the primary threat.
Rick in Robert Kirkman’s comics is a grim, badass leader who has to make horrific decisions on a regular basis, and on short notice. In the show, he’s been nothing short of wishy washy, but he’s building up to who he is in the source material, a trend that, according to this video, will also continue. He won’t shy away from making hard choices with dire consequences, which is what the character is all about, protecting his family, real and extended, at all costs.
One of the biggest criticisms of The Walking Dead has always been that it is crushingly bleak and pessimistic. There has to be something for these character to live for or else what’s the point? Gradually, over the course of last season, there were little rays of hope—not much, but it doesn’t take much—and that is going to be part of the landscape as the characters move forward.