Think you know everything there is to know about The Walking Dead‘s third season (premiering Oct. 14)? Think again. Despite the fresh avalanche of clips and intel coming out of Comic-Con, executive producer Robert Kirkman tells TVLine that he still has a few major surprises up his sleeve.
In the following Q&A, Dead‘s boss man teases a few of those twists, and also previews Rick’s “drastic” new journey, Carl’s promotion to “child solider,” and a beefed up storyline for last season’s quietest character.
TVLINE | How are you feeling about Season 3 now that you’ve shot a large chunk of it?
I’m excited about everything. There are new characters and there’s a new tone. There are characters that people don’t know about that are coming [on], which is really exciting… We’ve done some really cool stuff and I’m really anxious to see what people think of it. I’m really proud of the third season.
TVLINE | How closely will the arcs of The Governor (David Morrissey) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) follow the comic book mythology?
I can say that the characters are the characters; Michonne is Michonne, and The Governor is The Governor. They are definitely doing some of the things that you want them to do from the comic, but there are definitely changes. I’m adamant that if the TV show is just a direct adaptation of the comic, it would be completely boring to a significant percentage of the audience because the comic books do sell really well. So, we want to keep those people guessing as well as the people who have no familiarity with the comics at all… If it were completely up to me, the show would almost be more different. But the things that are very important to the fans, the things that would fundamentally change the characters and fundamentally change the story to the point that it wouldn’t be The Walking Dead, that’s not happening.
TVLINE | The finale signaled a big change in Rick. Do you view him almost like a different character now?
That’s really the key there, him straddling that line and how he manages that over a long period of time. The Walking Dead really is, at its core, Rick’s story. Watching this guy, who is such a good man, have to deal with all these things and how it affects him is really the meat and potatoes of the story. So, leading him up to where he is at the end of Season 2 — where he’s just killed his best friend and his relationship with his wife is somewhat destroyed and his son is changing before his eyes in ways that he has no control over — we pick up with that in the very beginning of Season 3. His journey over the third season is going to be a lot more drastic than it’s been. You’re going to see him really be put through his paces, and he’s definitely going to come out of the third season a changed character.
TVLINE | Will we see more repercussions of Shane’s death?
Shane’s death will have ramifications through the entirety of the series. The way it affects Carl, the way it affects Lori, the way it affects Rick, as well as the other characters. It fundamentally changes them.
TVLINE | Carl underwent some major changes last season, too.
Carl is growing up. In the comic book, you can see his evolution almost more than any other character. You see him as this very young child, and you look at him now and he’s vastly different, so that’s something that we’re definitely following in the show. Season 3 in a big way is quite a jump for Carl. He’s very much part of the group now; he’s a child soldier. He’s doing all of these things that all of the people around him are doing. It’s not, “Carl, you go hide here and let’s do this.” He’s actually in the mix in really startling and surprising ways. I’m really excited to see what Chandler Riggs does.
TVLINE | We previously reported on Lauren Cohan’s promotion, but have any other recurring players been bumped up to regulars next season?
Lauren Cohan was promoted to series regular this season, so that’s great. Everyone who survived the second season is definitely back. The way our stories are structured, I feel like they are all getting more to do. A lot of people ask about T-Dog — he’s a fabulous character. IronE Singleton is a fantastic actor and we all recognize why fans love him. We’re definitely getting around to telling his story and doing more with him.