Feb. 10, 2012 at 8:48 AM ET
You knew a bucolic life on the farm just wasn’t going to happen for our zombie-fleeing band of survivors on "The Walking Dead," right?
In the aftermath of the gruesome gunning down of the zombies previously kept safe in Hershel’s barn during the midseason finale, life gets more complicated when the popular AMC series returns at 9 p.m. Sunday.
The impact of that massacre -- and of course the discovery and (second) death of zombie Sophia -- resonates through the second part of the season.
Rick will be questioning his leadership and ability to make tough decisions, while Shane sinks even further into his dark side.
And if they haven't already, viewers and characters alike will have to align with either Team Rick or Team Shane.
“That rivalry is certainly at the heart of the show,” producer Glen Mazzara confirmed. “Certain people feel Shane was right to break open the barn, but Rick’s the one who stepped forward and put down Sophia. You have these two alpha males sparring for position and we get a lot of great story out of that.”
We won’t spoil the ending of Sunday’s second-half premiere, but suffice to say Rick shows viewers he’s got some surprising moves in store this season.
And of course, the turmoil continues -- albeit on a different level -- for Sophia's mom, Carol.
“In Carol’s heart, she knew she would probably never see (daughter) Sophia again, or if she did, (Sophia) wouldn’t be alive,” said Melissa McBride, who plays the little girl's mother. “The minute (Sophia) comes out the barn, the unknown she put her faith into is gone.”
But don’t expect Carol to just become the grieving mom, though tears will be shed and anger expressed. She'll be in limbo as she tries to find strength in herself instead of looking to others to provide that for her, McBride told us.
And as the show moves forward from the child-in-jeopardy story line, Mazzara said more focus will be put on the evolution of Carol’s character. “This forces Carol to learn to stand on her own,” he said. “I think people will hopefully respond.”
One of the folks the distressed mom has turned to in the past was Daryl, who producers say became her “knight in shining armor” when he took up the quest to find Sophia. When his crusade failed with the opening of the barn's doors, that changed the dynamic of their relationship.
After this setback, Daryl will wonder why the heck he put himself out there in the first place, and withdraws when he realizes Carol has begun to change.
Despite all the trauma the characters have experienced, Steven Yeun, who plays goodhearted Glenn, believes this season will come down to the group coming out as stronger individuals.
“It’s come to blows and you have to make that choice,” he said. “(Our characters) have to finally decide (which way is right for them) and not just lean on whatever someone else tells them to do.”
If you haven’t been keeping up, you can get up to speed with this weekend’s “Dead” marathon. All six episodes from season one will air back to back Saturday night beginning at 8, with the first episodes of season two airing at 1:30 p.m. Sunday and continuing until the 9 p.m. mid-season premiere.
Whose character do you think will go through the most changes post-massacre? Tell us on our Facebook page!