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'Walking Dead' producer: New season is 'no holds barred'

Rick (Andrew Lincoln) better watch his back, because The Governor is still angry about Woodbury.

“The Walking Dead” landscape is brutal on a good day, and there really weren't any good days in season three. The new season, which premieres Sunday, will feature much of the same, teased executive producer Gale Anne Hurd.

“We’ve got our group of survivors in a seriously compromised position,” she told TODAY.

For one thing, The Governor (David Morrissey) is on the loose after going bonkers and killing his crew, and he’s mad as heck at Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) for helping bring about the destruction of Woodbury at the end of season three. 

“He’s out there, we think, surviving in the best way that he can,” said Hurd. “He hasn't quite gotten over his grudge against Rick.”

But The Governor has Michonne (Danai Gurira) hot on his heels. She’s not happy that his actions led to her BFF Andrea’s death in that fraught final scene where the blonde took her own life rather than succumb to a zombie bite. “Michonne certainly feels the Governor has to pay for what he did; she had a grudge match against him already, and that’s been amplified,” said Hurd.

It’s not all about him, though. Rick “needs to be a better parent and role model for Carl and (baby) Judith,” explained Hurd, and may not want to lead the survivors any more. “His default position is still that of a leader,” she said. “But there’s the possibility that he is going to step down from his position.”

Daryl (Norman Reedus) also has to face that he killed his brother. Not that Merle hadn't been asking for it since season one, but still. “He’s haunted by what transpired between him and his brother,” said Hurd. “But he’s come to realize that he’s valuable in this community — and the survivors need him more than he needs them.”

Glenn and Maggie are the “romance among the rubble,” she said. “But that also brings not only responsibility, but the fear that Glenn has experienced. If you really care whether or not you live or die and think it’s important to protect someone else, it gives you hope for the future — but it makes you more vulnerable.”

That's the key word: vulnerable. In this world, nobody is safe, warned Hurd. “No holds barred,” she said. “That includes Rick. The truth is, we never want to lose anybody ... but it’s the nature of this universe.”

"The Walking Dead" returns Sunday Oct. 13 on AMC at 9 p.m.