As the summer season winds to a close, autumn will be soon be upon us. And along with vibrantly colored leaves, football games, and crisp, cool air, comes the return of The Walking Dead! From all reports, Season 6 will be a tension-filled, wild ride with many surprises (which, knowing this show, will probably involve favorite character deaths). Without any major, specific spoilers – but with many minor ones – the following list (in no particular order) outlines some things to watch for in the coming season.
Again, minor spoilers ahead:
1. Rick’s Changing Role in the Alexandria Safe Zone
When we last saw Rick, Deanna had just given him the go ahead to execute Pete (who killed Deanna’s husband when he literally got in the way of Pete’s murderous rage). This event will certainly be a turning point for Rick, who even as constable (along with Michonne) was previously letting Deanna call the shots. But after the community didn’t take his warnings about Pete or needing extra reinforcements along the Alexandrian wall seriously – which resulted in dire consequences – Rick may decide now is the time to “just take this place” (from 5.12 “Remember”). And though we know Rick’s own group will always be loyal and stand beside their rightful leader, it’s uncertain if all the Alexandrians will follow suit. And if they don’t, it could cause all kinds of problems. Whatever happens, it’s likely Rick, as is usually the case, will have to make some difficult decisions.
2. The Return of Morgan
In the Season 5 finale viewers got to see Morgan re-emerge from the shadows as the warrior/Jedi/Zen master he has now become. He finally reunited with Rick in the last few moments of “Conquer,” but was stunned to witness his old friend’s brutal action against Pete. Morgan and Rick’s brief encounters have always been very intense, so it will be interesting to see the relationship between these two men – who seem to have very different ideas on what it takes to survive – unfold as they spend more time face to face this season. But regardless of their potential conflict, let’s hope we see a lot of Lennie James, who’s mesmerizing when he’s on screen.
3. Carol Continuing to be a Badass
For anyone who’s watched this series from the beginning, it’s apparent how much Carol has morphed since season one – from the timid, passive woman unable to escape her abusive husband, to the rifle-wielding renegade who singlehandedly saved our group from Terminus. And let’s not forget she can also manipulate like nobody’s business, whether she’s posing as a sweater clad member of the Alexandrian coffee klatch or threatening to feed a child to the walkers and buying his silence with cookies. Yet, what makes Carol so fascinating is that she hasn’t become one dimensional in her transformation: Yes, she’s a badass, but she also has plenty of vulnerability – including the major guilt she carries over all she’s had to do to ensure her and her group’s survival. Here’s to hoping she continues to survive – through Season 6 and beyond.
4. Daryl and Carol’s Unique Relationship
And speaking of Carol, her relationship with Daryl has always been a fascinating one to watch – full of complexities and nuances. From the beginning, these two have had a deep connection, and one that doesn’t need romance to solidify it. They seem to understand each other in a special way (and Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus have a rather unique chemistry onscreen). Though they’re both fiercely independent, Carol and Daryl need each other. And though Carol has a very interesting relationship with Rick as well, theirs seems to be more of a working partnership – Carol is on the frontlines with Rick, but it’s in the quiet moments where doubt and fear reside that she takes emotional refuge in Daryl. I’m anxious to see where the writers take them next as lines will inevitably be drawn between the residents of Alexandria.
5. Learning More about the Wolves
In the second half of Season 5, we some saw of the horrific actions of these violent, rabid survivors, from murdering the inhabitants of Shirewilt estates (Noah’s home base) to trapping unsuspecting humans and using them as bait for walkers. At the end of the season, The Wolves found Aaron’s bag, which included pictures and other details of the safe zone, so it’s likely we’ll see a confrontation between The Wolves and the Alexandrians. That’s sure to mean some cool fight sequences, but hopefully we’ll also get a more interesting storyline than we did with the one dimensional terminus gang.
6. New Walker Action
It seems every year Greg Nicotero and company amp up the walker gore, finding new methods to slaughter the zombies – often in ever increasingly gross, yet extremely creative ways. And let’s face it, isn’t that part of the reason we watch? It’s always entertaining to see the walkers showcased in new ways, whether they’re getting hosed down, catching fire, or raining from the sky – it’s all fun, and I’m sure this season we’ll see some more unusual walker action. And the zombies themselves could be more disgusting too. Walker canon states that as time goes on, they decompose further (and recently released pictures seem to corroborate this). So, it looks like we’ll be marveling yet again at the amazing effects Nicotero and his team produce this season.
Showrunner Scott Gimple has revealed Season 6 will feature a generous amount of flashbacks. The series has used this technique in the past with many of its characters, from Michonne to The Governor, to Abraham – and though it sometimes stalled the action, it gave us new insight into these individuals. It would be great to learn more about any of our survivors, perhaps seeing portions of their life before the apocalypse (especially Daryl or Carol’s) or maybe delving into how particular places came into existence (like the Alexandria safe zone). The device is full of possibilities, and I’m hoping the writers will take full advantage and give the audience some rich and meaningful backstory to the current landscape and those who inhabit it.
8. New Characters
Without revealing too much, Scott Gimple has also made reference to several new characters that will populate Season 6. A whole host were introduced in season 5, from Father Gabriel to Noah, to Deanna, Aaron, and other residents of the Alexandria Safe Zone. Comic book fans are often privy to the introduction of many “new” characters (because readers have already encountered them in the pages of the graphic novels), but for those who only know the TV series, these characters bring surprising elements to existing storylines (or can introduce new ones altogether) and often tell us more about our already established characters as everyone begins to interact with one another. It will be fun to meet these new additions and see what role they play in Season 6.
9. Expanding The Walking Dead Universe
One of the things that always bothers me in survival stories is when a group is in one place, they never seem to tell you what is happening anywhere else. Our survivors spent so much time trapped in Georgia, I was thrilled with Eugene’s Washington D.C. plan (even though it was based on a huge lie), and I was relieved when the group met Aaron and made their way to Alexandria. Because even though this story focuses on this particular group of people, shouldn’t we know a bit about what is going on in the rest of the world? Shouldn’t the group themselves at least question what is happening elsewhere? This season, it’s highly likely that The Walking Dead universe will expand as the group spends more time in Alexandria, curious to discover what lies beyond the walls of the safe zone. There’s still many unknowns about the zombie apocalypse, so it would be exciting to get even just a few more answers.
10. The Season 5 DVD Release, Upcoming Special, and the Companion Series
Well, this one isn’t about Season 6 exactly, but it is something to watch for – and look forward to! First, the DVDs are always a treat, and season 5, set for release August 25th, will be filled with deleted scenes, audio commentaries, character and actor journeys, and “Making of…” featurettes. In addition, the always awesome Talking Dead will feature a Season 6 preview special August 23rd at 8 pm EST. Talking Dead is great fun, with writer and actor guests providing insight into storylines and character motivations. Following the preview special comes the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead at 9:00, which will focus on the early days of the zombie apocalypse in Los Angeles. So between the DVD release, Talking Dead special and new series Fear the Walking Dead, fans have tons of walker-related fun to immerse themselves in, all leading up to the Season 6 premiere of The Walking Dead at 9:00 pm EST on October 11th. Let the Zombie games begin.