INTERVIEW: THE WALKING DEAD Showrunner Glen Mazzara Reveals Season Three & Four Details

Spoiler Warning: Glen Mazzara, showrunner for AMC's The Walking Dead revealed some vital information in regards to the upcoming season of the show and mentioned that he sees the upcoming Prison arc lasting for both seasons three and four. Plus, he offers comments on pacing complaints, character evolutions/intros, the TV series catching up to the source material and more.

The Walking Dead tells the story of the months and years after a zombie apocalypse, following a group of survivors who travel in search of a safe and secure home. The series goes on to explore the challenges of life in a world overrun by walkers, where the interpersonal conflicts often present a greater danger than anything else and over time, the characters grow willing to do almost anything to survive.

As next season of The Walking Dead gears up for shooting its 16 episode order this May, fans should prepare themselves to visit the next safe haven that comic readers know all too well. During a recent round table interview, Glen Mazzara mentioned that the aforementioned Prison arc will last all of the third season until the end of season four.

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"I think that a lot of people felt the farm was claustrophobic and we don't want the prison to be that way," said Mazzara. "The prison arc is really the heart of Robert Kirkman's work with The Walking Dead."

He went on to say that he plans to move closer to the source material in some aspects, but that there will of course be deviations along the way. Perhaps the largest deviation in season two was the surprise exit of Dale and therefore the lost opportunity to explore his storylines moving forward. In regards to Dale and Andrea's love relationship, Mazzara said the writers didn't feel the need to pursue it at all. "I don't feel the Dale/Andrea storyline is a loss. It was never really on the table."

One of the more intriguing comic book storylines involves Dale and group of cannibal hunters, and that will apparently live on through a different character in the TV series. "Anybody can be cannibalized, so we still have that story in the pocket." As new characters like Michonne and the villainous Governor are introduced, I asked Mazzara if the zombies will ever take a backseat for an eventual human threat and conflict.

"Zombies will never take a backseat. We will introduce a significant human threat but the zombies are fully integrated into this world and are part of the landscape. There could be times with no zombie action but we feel we don't need to have a 1000 zombies on the show either."

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Mazzara also confirmed that viewers can expect more 'hero zombies' in season three, much like the one that finished Dale off and proving Mazzara's "quality over quantity" theory in regards to the undead. I also asked if he feels the show will catch up to the source material now that the ratings have shown continued and growing success. "Maybe we will catch up eventually; I know that Robert has no plans to end the comic."

One of the common complaints Mazzara and the Walking Dead team have faced is purported pacing issues, which many felt caused the show to run slower in the first half before picking up later on in the season. When asked if any viewer input had an impact on this pacing change Mazzara replied, "No. My inclination was always to ramp it up after the Sophia arc and we were already so well into production that would have been impossible anyway." Another question was asked if Mazzara's comment of the final three episodes being a benchmark for the pacing of season three was a stab at Frank Darabont's earlier work in which he vacated the series as showrunner after the Sophia arc. "Not at all. Frank actually wondered earlier on if we had pacing issues at the beginning himself."

In regards to the characters, Mazzara revealed that Lori's reaction of anger upon hearing news of Rick murdering Shane was one of shock and disgust in herself. This scene puzzled some fans when Lori implied for Rick to "deal with" Shane earlier in the season. "Lori did not ask Rick to kill Shane. She's a confused control freak. She's horrified at Rick and herself for her own role in this and is dealing with self hatred. She is appropriately f***ed up."

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Another character that viewers wanted to see more from was T-Dog, who many felt was underutilized. Mazzara said he was surprised by this reaction and compared T-Dog to another character by the name of Ronnie from Mazzara's writing days on The Shield. He did however admit that they might have went a bit far in ignoring him to some degree saying, "He has been off to the side and forgotten so we're going to correct this now that he's survived the finale and develop him from being a background character in significant ways."

As for new characters, he went on to confirm the sword-wielding Michonne (Danai Gurira) will have a vital role and said that, although her surprise entrance in season two was very "theatrical", he does want to ground that character and make her real and gritty. The Governor, played by David Morrissey, is a good friend of Andrew Lincoln (who plays Rick) in real life. Mazzara mentioned that although he was not familiar with Morrissey's work, Lincoln's praise along with Morrissey's audition were perfect. The actor understood that the Governor's essence is that of a true villain.

Other interesting notes include

  • Mazzara confirmed fan favorite Merle (Michael Rooker) is "on the horizon" for season three.
  • Greg Nicotero will shoot webisodes based on different characters sometime next month.
  • Horror novelist Stephen King will not direct an episode of the series as he was Darabont's connection.
  • The bar shoot-out in the episode 'Triggerfinger' was inspired by a similar scene from HBO's The Wire.
  • A writer from HBO's The Sopranos has been added to the TWD team.
  • Security has been ramped up significantly to prevent leaks, which were a huge plague for season two.
  • Scripts for season three are being written simultaneously in a style that Frank Darabont introduced that he learned while working with George Lucas. Mazzara will write the third season premiere.
  • Despite the prison arc showcasing some of the darkest aspects of the series, Mazzara confirmed that there's "no place they won't go" in those terms although they may utilize off-screen effects in some situations.
  • Mazzara's friend Kurt Sutter (creator of Sons of Anarchy) will likely have a zombie cameo next season while Mazzara plays a dead biker on SOA to seal the deal. "I love Kurt, so I might take him up on that offer."