The Walking Dead‘s much-anticipated fourth season bows this Sunday (9/8c, AMC), but you should go ahead and start worrying about the episode slated to air on Dec. 1.
According to leading man Andrew Lincoln, that particular installment — the midseason finale, as it were — will be a grueling experience on par with some of the show’s most taxing hours.
Below, Lincoln teases that fateful outing, while also shedding new light on the seven episodes leading up to the big 2013 cliffhanger.
TVLINE | Rick seems to be in a much better place in premiere? I can’t imagine that lasts…
Rest assured, it really doesn’t last much longer than the first episode. It’s not The Waltons. [Laughs] We’re very good at smashing things and breaking things and everything falling apart very, very quickly. That is, in fact, what happens. My wife came home from watching the first episode and said, ‘Rick smiled! And laughed!’ She was so pleased, she went, ‘Thank f—k!’ [Laughs] It’s been so long coming. The writers do a beautiful job at creating the beginnings of civilization and the potential for these people. You do feel they’re beginning this civilization – and it’s working. Rick has put all of his energy into growing things.
TVLINE | Seriously, who knew that the ex-cop was such a good farmer?
[Laughs] We even have some little piggies… You wait until Episode 2. It’s crazy.
TVLINE | Have you had to shoot any scenes that rival Rick’s breakdown over Lori’s death?
There’s been one scene that was pretty painful to do — it’s always the midseason finale! [Laughs] It was all going so well for me this year, I was farming and just kicking back – I thought it was going to be a really relaxed season for me – and then they just go, ‘Bam!’ [Makes crashing noise].
TVLINE | Let’s talk about Carl and Rick’s relationship this season…
Most of the story arc for Rick is driven by children, by Carl and Judith. [The] central theme throughout this whole season is his responsibilities as a father pulled against his responsibilities as a good leader of the group – in spite of the new setup and regimen. It’s the central thrust of this season: the boy becoming a man and the father accepting it. You meet them in a much happier place, and Rick’s become present in Carl’s life. He’s a hard father, but he’s a fair and loving father. What happens this season – as all parents undergo – is you have to start to listen to your children because they can educate you at times.
TVLINE | Lauren Cohan tells us that the scariest stuff this year comes at the hands of group members doing things for the greater good. Agree?
We’ve become this incredibly tight-knit band of misfits, this family, which I love… We look out for each other. But the problem is, when a threat appears, what are you willing to do in order to prevent it? One of the characters certainly does something that I think is playing God. He or she plays God, for all intents and purposes.
TVLINE | Where do you think fans’ desire for Michonne and Rick to become an item comes from?
I don’t know! Where do you think it’s coming from? [Laughs] I suppose maybe it was the scene in [last season’s] Episode 12, “Clear,” where you saw that there was chemistry and camaraderie between those two people. He makes a couple of jokes in there with her and there’s a lightness that possibly the fans haven’t seen before, and they want to see that again… So, maybe that’s where it stems from? I do think it’d be nice for Rick to find someone, don’t get me wrong! [Laughs] Maybe not just yet…? I think Sarah Wayne Callies will kick my ass! There will be a phone call [from her]: ‘What’s going on?!’ A voice from the grave… [Laughs]