'Walk­ing Dead' sets stage for war, and an el­derly Rick

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Hit zom­bie se­ries "The Walk­ing Dead" thrilled fans Fri­day with a preview of the all-out war to come be­tween Rick's peo­ple and the malev­o­lent Sav­iors in the hotly-an­tic­i­pated eighth sea­son. US net­work AMC de­buted a five-minute trailer at San Diego Comic-Con show­ing Sav­iors leader Ne­gan (Jef­frey Dean Mor­gan) in full swag­ger be­fore cut­ting to all the ma­jor char­ac­ters ready­ing their weapons and troops to take him down once and for all. There was the usual feast of ex­plo­sions, guns, hand-to­hand com­bat and zom­bies with axes in their heads-and a thrilling cameo by King Ezekiel's CGI tiger. In­trigu­ingly, the teaser ended with an older, grayer ver­sion of Rick wak­ing up in a hos­pi­tal bed with a walk­ing stick by his side, im­ply­ing a huge leap for­ward in the nar­ra­tive-or per­haps just a dramatic dream se­quence. There were rous­ing speeches from Rick (An­drew Lin­coln), Mag­gie (Lau­ren Co­han), and Ezekiel (Khary Pay­ton), per­haps pre­sag­ing a brighter fu­ture for the em­bat­tled apoca­lypse sur­vivors.

"With ev­ery­thing we've beat, ev­ery­thing we've en­dured, ev­ery­thing we've risen above, ev­ery­thing we've be­come-no mat­ter what comes next-we've won. We've al­ready won," says Rick. Se­ries co-cre­ator Robert Kirk­man, the man be­hind the comics on which the show is based, said he'd counted six ex­plo­sions in the trailer alone.

Swag­ger­ing psy­chopath

"We have all kinds of great stuff planned. Our next sea­son will be very ac­tion-packed and very fast-paced," he told a packed 6,500-ca­pac­ity Hall H at the San Diego Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. Kirk­man and his fel­low ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers were joined on stage by nu­mer­ous cast mem­bers, in­clud­ing Melissa McBride, Len­nie James, Chan­dler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Lin­coln, Mor­gan, Co­han and Pay­ton. The hall was treated to a com­pi­la­tion of mo­ments from across the 99 episodes that have aired since 2010, pro­vok­ing an emo­tional re­sponse from the pan­elists. "This has been the most in­cred­i­ble thing in my life. It's been the most in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence," said Lin­coln, eyes welling up. Mor­gan was asked what he likes most and least about swag­ger­ing, psy­cho­pathic Ne­gan, who dis­patches his en­e­mies with a base­ball bat called "Lu­cille" cov­ered in barbed wire. "What do I like most about him? I find him very amus­ing. I think he's got a great sense of hu­mor. In these dark days a sense of hu­mor will get you through," the 51-year-old ac­tor re­sponded.

"What do I like least about him? That he wears a leather jacket out in 120 de­grees." Be­fore the panel got go­ing, showrun­ner Scott M. Gim­ple paid trib­ute to stunt­man John Ber­necker, who died af­ter fall­ing more than 20 feet (seven meters) on the set in Ge­or­gia ear­lier this month. Ear­lier, Hall H had ob­served a mo­ment's si­lence for Ber­necker dur­ing a Q&A for AMC's spin-off se­ries, "Fear the Walk­ing Dead."

Bolder, blood­ier

"Fear" is due to re­turn from its mid-sea­son break on Septem­ber 10, fin­ish­ing its third sea­son on Oc­to­ber 15, a week be­fore the re­turn of the main show. Co-cre­ated by Kirk­man, the spin-off show takes place in Cal­i­for­nia and Mex­ico from the very start of the zom­bie apoca­lypse whereas the main show started out at an un­spec­i­fied later date, in Ge­or­gia. Kirk­man hinted at a pos­si­ble cross­over be­tween the two shows while ad­mit­ting the time gap be­tween them would be a prob­lem. "It's re­ally a ques­tion of time­line be­cause 'Walk­ing Dead' sea­son eight is so far ahead in the time­line com­pared to 'Fear the Walk­ing Dead' sea­son three," he said. Fans have been spec­u­lat­ing on­line since the spinoff show started that Daryl Dixon, a lead char­ac­ter in the main show played by Nor­man Ree­dus, is re­lated to Madison Clark (Kim Dick­ens) from "Fear." Kirk­man joked that the pair might be able to com­mu­ni­cate via a "mag­i­cal tele­phone."

(L-R) Ac­tors Len­nie James, Chan­dler Riggs, Danai Gurira, and Jef­frey Dean Mor­gan speak on­stage at the “TheWalk­ing Dead” panel.

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