You probably thought you were going to get a break from me yapping about The Walking Dead since the show is officially on hiatus, but sorry, no such luck. This great behind-the-scenes chat with showrunner Glenn Mazarra is just too juicy not to share! If you're interested in hearing about some of the details about the episodes so far, and get some teasers about what we can expect when the show starts back up on February 10, I've got some of the most interesting highlights for you -- straight from the man himself.
As always, the jump signifies your entry into spoiler territory. Don't keep reading if you aren't caught up with this season!
Why season 3 is so much more awesome than season 2:
We're swinging for the fences every week. We have a very accelerated pace of storytelling, where we're trying to pack as much story into every episode, and yet, spending a lot of time developing our characters. We're not afraid to have quiet scenes that have a lot of heart in them. We've really found a nice balance having those quiet, heartfelt scenes, mixed with moments of pure terror and action.
It's important for us to realize that these are desperate characters, living in a frantic world. No place is safe; that's something that's really important. For example, in the episode in which Lori died, we wanted to make sure that prison never feels safe. If you look at it in the first four episodes, they have three major battles with zombies at the prison. That's something that our audience responds to: that our characters are always on the knife's edge.
Yes! That was a major missing element in a lot of last season's story, at least in the first half. Our survivors were too complacent on Hershel's farm, sitting around drinking iced tea and bitching about who should be doing more dishes and grumbling over Shane. And, of course, tromping around in the woods shouting, "SOPHIA!"
How Danai Gurira does such a good job of making Michonne a believable badass:
Danai was raised at some point in Africa. She comes from a cultural experience where there was a lot of war and very, very strong female survivors. That's something she's used as a model for Michonne -- the strength of the women who suffered great abuses yet carried on. She has a strength and an aggressiveness but also a grace.
Why they chose Chad Coleman to play Tyreese, the character we briefly met in the midseason finale:
He was someone we had in mind. He was very interested in coming in and auditioning. One of our main directors is Ernest Dickerson, and he directed a number of ("The Wire" episodes). He said, "If you could get Chad, that would be great." So Chad felt like a friend of the family, and he came in and we chatted. He's just having a great time and is excited about being a part of the show. Tyreese is a good man who is faced with the same horrible situations that Rick has faced, but he may not have that darkness within him to make the same choices.
The actors actually help drive the story:
(When Rick met Michonne), it was very interesting because Andrew had notes on that script that were like, "Why would I trust that woman? Why would I let her into the prison?" He was really living his character. He said, "Rick would never trust this woman." You could see that there's a lot of work that the actors do on their own characters, and we as writers listen and incorporate those dynamics into the scripts.
How Rick's group and Woodbury are at odds with each other, even though they aren't necessarily the bad guys:
The way that the show's been written in the third season is that the characters become more comfortable with killing because they are so used to killing the dehumanized walkers. So it's easy for them to extrapolate that another threat can be dehumanized. (...) The audience knows that the people of Woodbury are decent people being misled by The Governor. The audience knows that Rick and his group are a bunch of good-hearted survivors, but yet it's very possible for The Governor to portray them as blood-thirsty murderers to the people of Woodbury because that's what they were. This question of humanity and dehumanization is right at the heart of the third season.
What we can expect in the rest of season 3:
All of the pieces are up and running: Woodbury, the prison, The Governor, Michonne, the reintroduction of Merle. Everyone is now onstage. Now it will be interesting to see all of the shifting alliances and all the dynamics. We don't slow down the pace, and we continue to have very high stakes. But we'll see a lot more nuanced character drama and some real interesting personal dilemmas for these characters.
You know what I really love about this show, other than the fact that it's about zombies and it has introduced me to the tingly magic of Daryl Dixon? I love that Glenn Mazarra and Robert Kirkman are continually willing to talk about their creative process and provide insight about upcoming episodes, even if they are highly skilled at weaseling around the direct questions. These guys definitely know how to keep our interest up, wouldn't you say?
What do you think we'll see during the last eight episodes of season 3? My call: the Governor and Merle will be dead by the finale.
Image via AMC