Walking Dead Showrunner Glen Mazzara Talks Season Three And Beyond

By Brent McKnight | Published

Season three of AMC’s The Walking Dead is shaping up to be one hell of a barnburner. The story is heading down some of the darkest, most brutal avenues laid out in Robert Kirkman’s comics, some badass new characters—namely Michonne and the Governor—are set show up and change the game, and a not-so-welcome face from the past—Merle—is also crawling out from under whatever rock he’s been hiding under.

The Governor in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead

Talking to The Wrap, showrunner Glen Mazzara talked in depth about the upcoming season, and what lies beyond. It should go without saying that some spoilers may lurk in the shadows.

There is no safe haven in this world. I want to make that clear. At the end of our season 2 finale that farm is overtaken and that farm was that last safe haven, and there’s no safe haven in that world. I want to be very clear about that. No one is safe. There is no safe haven.

This answers the question of how contained or widespread the outbreak is. There is nowhere for Rick and company to run, nowhere they can escape the plague. He goes on to talk more about possible conclusions to the comic and show.

Robert is not interested in proposing a theory of what caused this apocalypse in his work, and that’s something that I think is important for us. It’s about surviving in this world. We’re lucky in the sense that we’re able to draw on a lot of great zombie films. And one of the things we really pride ourselves on is adding to that literature. Adding original bits with zombies that no one has ever seen.

When you look at possible endings, I really am interested in finding new territory and a new type of ending, a surprising ending for this series that no one’s ever done before, that no one’s ever thought of.

Mazzara touched on how closely this season will follow Kirkman’s story, which finds the crew of survivors holed up in an abandoned prison.

We’re taking the major tentpole characters and storylines from the comics and adapting them to our alternate universe of the TV shows. So it will be just as surprising to comic-book fans as to non-comic-book fans as to how all of it lays out…The prison itself will be a threatening, malevolent character. It is a challenge to live in the prison. And I think we’ve really been able to get a lot of story out of it. So it will not feel like a safe corner keeping our characters away from central action. It will really play that they are in a shark cage. Life in a prison is life in a shark cage.

British actor David Morrissey joins the cast as the season’s primary antogonist, The Governor

He makes a surprising appearance. I don’t want to give anything away as to the exact episode, but the audience will certainly be ready for his appearance — and they won’t have to wait too long.

For those of us who have read Kirkman’s novel Rise of the Governor, you know his background, and how he came to rule over the survivalist enclave of Woodbury. It is not exactly the story you expect when you meet the character after he has already become a despotic ruler.

I haven’t read the novel because I didn’t want it to influence my concept of the TV show’s version. But we’re interested in having a very complex, nuanced, multi-layered character. This will not be simply an arch villain who is committing an evil act in every scene. That’s too cartoonish for what we do here. We want that character to feel as real and human and fully developed as possible.

The encounter with the Governor and his crew leave indelible scars on Rick and the rest. Some wounds are physical, others deeply emotional and psychological. There are scenes of heinous violence and stunning brutality that will be incredibly difficult to translate to television.

Certainly there’s challenging material in the comic book, and I would say there’s equally challenging material on our TV show. I think at the end of season 2 we showed that we don’t pull punches … We’re not going to get soft now. However, we’ll do things on our own time, or when it makes sense for the show. And we’re definitely looking at this Governor-Michonne-Woodbury-prison storyline as a longterm arc.

Does that mean the Woodbury scenario could stretch out beyond a single season?

Season three is going into my favorite story arc in all of The Walking Dead, and I really hope the show lives up to the potential of the comics. If it does this could be some of the best horror you’ve ever seen on TV. The series picked up towards the end of season two, and if it continues in that vein, it has a bright—so to speak—future.