One of the most anticipated season premieres of the Fall TV season, AMC’s adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s beloved comic book series The Walking Dead was showcased in a panel on Saturday at New York Comic-Con at the Jacob Javits Center. The third season debuts tonight at 9pm, and for fans of the apocalyptic zombies at large program, it is sure to be worth the wait and then some. Attendees of the panel at the packed IGN Theater got a sneak peak of the first few minutes of Season 3 Episode 1, which you can read about at the end of this article.
Moderated by the always witty Chris Hardwick, who hosts the Talking Dead show on AMC, the cast and crew came out to earth-shattering applause and a standing ovation after the wild and intense clip from the season premiere was shown. The panel consisted of producer Gale Anne Hurd and Robert Kirkman (producer and creator of the comic book series), along with actors Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, David Morrissey, Michael Rooker, and Norman Reedus.
Michael Rooker, who plays the badass redneck Merle, got the loudest applause. Hardwick said it best, when he told Rooker “the crowd is bathing you in their love.” “I’m a tough asshole,” Rooker said of Merle. The crowd seemed eager to see Merle back on the series and their passion for this show is unprecedented. His on-screen brother Norman Reedus received an overabundance of love from the audience (and no wonder – he along with Lincoln stayed at the end to sign autographs for the frenzied crowd).
Kirkman spoke about picking up where they left off in the second season, keeping the non-stop momentum fully intact. A tidbit revealed about this first episode of season 3 was that there are more zombie kills in this one episode than there were in all of season 1. The footage debuted, which finds the group many months after the end of Season 2, showed that Carl has grown up a lot since we last saw him. One of the running jokes among fans of the series is to ask “Where’s Carl?,” alluding to the fact that the boy’s parents never seem to know where he is and are always asking this question. (During the audience Q&A, a fan was wearing a shirt that read “Where’s Carl?” and Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl, laughed that he hated that shirt, even though he’s actually worn one himself!) Hurd says now when people ask “Where’s Carl?”, you can say “He’s in the house, shooting zombies.”
The child actor Chandler Riggs, who’s been making appearances at conventions for the series since it began in 2010, has truly come into his own and dominated the panel, not only with this commentary, but also with his maturity. Riggs had said last year that his character Carl would eventually have to grow up fast and become a man well before he was meant to thanks to the harsh zombie-infested world he now lives in. But this time around, Riggs had a confidence and swagger not often seen in child actors, and even teased that he might get a love interest after an audience member asked him if Sophia on the show had been his girlfriend. The audience let out a loud collective “woo” when Riggs said, “Beth is 17, so you might see a little bit of that… maybe.”
Speaking of children, snother noteworthy aspect of this panel was the large amount of children – little children actually – who came up to the mic to ask a question during the audience Q&A session. As moderator Hardwick pointed out, each child that came up was younger than the last (he then jokingly asked if there were any fetuses or embryos in the audience who wanted to ask a question). After answering one of the children’s questions about whether there would be a raid at the prison like in the comic and “will all the crazy stuff happen?” (Kirkman says a lot of crazy stuff will happen), Kirkman added, “Also, you shouldn’t be watching this show.”
An even younger child asked the cast what would be there second weapon of choice: Lincoln said a flamethrower; Riggs said a lancer, a machine gun with chainsaw from the Gears of War video games; Reedus said a bazooka, something loud, or Lucy Liu; Guirira said she can’t think of a better one than what she already has (a katana sword); Rooker said an apparatus that goes on the arm like a World War II bazooka or a rocket launcher.
The cast talked about where the new season would be going and the evolution of the young Chandler Riggs, who spoke about how much fun and what amazing actors he works with, and promised that this season would be the best yet. The crowd then serenaded Norman Reedus’ son Mingus, who turned 13 years old that day and was seated in the front of the room, with a rousing Happy Birthday. Of his character Darryl and why he hasn’t really hooked up with any of the ladies on the show, Reedus – who was constantly being complimented by female audience members – said, “Darryl has no game, at all.” He also said that while Darryl and Merle “love each other in a messed up way,” to Darryl Rick is becoming the brother he lost. Also, Darryl, who comes from a background of abuse and neglect, finally feels like he has a purpose, that he is of value to the group, as he’s a protector to them.
Danai Gurira, who plays new cast member, the alpha female Michonne, talked about joining the cast and what a “thrill ride” it was and brutal joy to be part of the show. Of her character, the actress said, “She’s an intense chick” and how smart and badass Michonne since she found a way to use the zombies to her advantage by essentially turning them into pack mules.
Every shot of an actor from the show, every word uttered by them, was met with applause and cheers typically seen done by overzealous fans at soccer matches. Flashbulbs from digital cameras went off like shooting stars throughout the tenure of the panel. The cast really pumped everyone up for tonight’s season premiere, which is sure to be a good one.
Season 3 Episode 1 Footage Description
The footage opens on a close up of a zombie’s infected eye. As the camera pulls away, we see two zombies in a house when the familiar faces of Rick Grimes and his group barge into through the door and kill the walkers. Each member of the group walks in – Rick, Darryl, T-Dog, Glen, Maggie, Carol, Beth, a very pregnant Laurie, a gun-toting Carl wearing his father Rick’s sheriff hat, and a bearded Hershel. Several members of the group, including Carl, go through through the house, weapons in hand, searching for more walkers. Carl finds one and shoots it in the head. Darryl happens upon an owl upstairs and shoots it, while Carl discovers two cans of dog food in the kitchen. When all seems clear, the obviously exhausted group settles in to rest. Carl brandishes a can opener, seemingly ready to divy up his find for the obviously starving group, but a frustrated Rick grabs the can and tosses it, as if he’s not yet ready to let his people consume dog food. Near by, Darryl quickly defeathers his kill for what he surely thinks will be a meal. Looking quite defeated, the group sits in silence until they see out of the window walkers approaching the house, so they run out to their vehicles, escaping their undead attackers.
Additional contribution by Stoogeypedia; Photos by Dave3.