#SDCC14: The Walking Dead Season 5 – Expect More Ferocity, Bigger Setpieces, and a New State of Decay; Update on the Spin-off

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#SDCC14: The Walking Dead Season 5 - Expect More Ferocity, Bigger Setpieces, and a New State of Decay; Update on the Spin-offYesterday Andrew reported in from the SDCC panel for “The Walking Dead,” the Season 5 trailer arrived, and we took part in roundtables with the cast and crew, the highlights of which you’ll find right here.

The press room for the series was, as usual, quite hectic, resulting in our not being able to chat with a few of the principals, but those we did have a chance to grill about the upcoming season revealed just enough to leave us anxiously awaiting October 12th, when Season 5 will debut.

We asked Danai Gurira about Michonne’s state of mind as things resume, and she said the character is “dealing with circumstances” in an “intensely macro and micro” way. She has “some great interpersonal relationships” going on, like with Carl and Rick, but it’s “intense getting to know the new people.”

As for working without her trusty sword, Gurira said it’s not an issue because “she doesn’t need it.” She had this idea that the sword was part of the character, but no, it was really the other way around. She’s now using other weapons. “More ferocity” is coming out of her; Michonne is “goal-oriented… the tool is inconsequential.”

With both being such strong personalities, how does Michonne get along with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz)? Gurira seemed almost surprised at the concept of them not getting along because Michonne “clicks with strong people.” The question for her with anyone, including in previous seasons The Governor, is, “What’s in your heart?” She’s just trying to align with “good, strong people.”

If you watched the Season 5 trailer, you know Beth is in a predicament. Someone at our table thought she recognized the woman holding her as Christine Woods (“Hello Ladies”), and exec producer Gale Anne Hurd confirmed it. As for other guest stars/new cast members, Hurd said Denise Crosby (Pet Sematary), whom we saw in Terminus at the tail end of Season 4, will be back; and she confirmed earlier reports that “The Wire’s” Seth Gilliam will appear as Father Gabriel from the comics.

And speaking of those Terminus folks, Hurd said, “They have created their own community and survived [so] they’re good at what they do,” whatever that is… still no confirmation if it includes cannibalism. But they are adept at “working together.”

Someone who isn’t together with her group when the series resumes is the aforementioned Beth (Emily Kinney), and we wondered what it was like for Kinney working without the others. She said with Beth separated and on her own journey, it was “challenging and [she] felt like the character.” We’ll see a different kind of strength from her this year.

We couldn’t let Hurd slip away without getting a feel for the tone of Season 5, and she said it’s “more action-packed… they are on the road” to get Eugene to DC for a cure. There’s “a lot of debate” over whether they should go or not. Expect “bigger setpieces” despite their tight 8-day shooting schedule per episode. They’re filming in “urban, suburban, and rural environments” this go-round, and about to begin Episode 8, the mid-season finale.

When asked about the gore level, showrunner Scott Gimple noted how often parents and their children come up to him to talk about the show, saying how watching is a family affair. He called the opening minutes of the premiere episode (directed by Greg Nicotero) “seriously intense” and said he’s “weirded out” to think that families will be watching it together.

As for the real draw of the show for us, the walkers, Gimple said we’ll see a “new state of decay” in them.

Chad Coleman and Melissa McBride promised we’ll see Tyreese and Carol “very soon.” Before looking ahead, we asked them for their thoughts on last season’s gripping scene when Tyreese forgave Carol, and Coleman said he “expected” that his character would act that way while the soft-spoken McBride said she was “as surprised as Carol was” at the turn of events.

Will Carol reveal what happened with Lizzie when reunited with the others? McBride said Carol usually keeps things to herself, but that it could be for any number of reasons… because she doesn’t feel like she has to answer to anyone else or because she’s ashamed of what she’s done.

We wrapped up with comic creator/exec producer Robert Kirkman, who’s writing two of the season’s 16 episodes, and queried him about Terminus. Sure, “they seem like bad people,” but whatever you think you see in the trailer is “not clear-cut… there’s a lot of nuance and what you wouldn’t expect.” The trailer seems to open it up and show more than usual, but “there’s much more coming up not revealed.”

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard anything about the proposed spin-off so we asked Kirkman for a quick update. It’s “taking its time but on track… a plan is in place, [and] news will be coming soon.” He added that he’s still “very excited about it” so expect to be hearing more shortly.

Season 5 kicks off Sunday, October 12th, at 9PM, on AMC, followed once again by “Talking Dead.” To stay up-to-the-minute on all things walker related, follow @WalkingDead_AMC on Twitter and visit “The Walking Dead” on Facebook. For more be sure to hit up the official “The Walking Dead” page on AMC.com.

The Walking Dead Season 5

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