'The Walking Dead' Season 4: 'The honeymoon period is about to end'

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When "The Walking Dead" Season 4 premiered, there were some clear character evolutions that had taken place during the break since Season 3. Rick is now into farming, Sasha is one of the group's main leaders and Daryl is viewed as a rock star. Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd says that those developments give the show a renewed forward momentum.

"Because months had elapsed between the last episode of the season and where we pick things up this season, it was important to see the changes in the characters," she tells Zap2it. "Since that time had elapsed, how were they dealing with this larger community that they're now a part of? We see that Daryl's kind of the rock star that he should be."

During the months between Seasons 3 and 4, the Prison group has had time to rebuild their defenses after their fight against the Governor. The premiere makes it clear that, as Hurd says, Rick made the choice "to focus on being a good father and relinquish the role of leadership." He might not be able to say no to the gun for much longer, though, because Hurd teases "the honeymoon period is about to end."

In some ways, it already has. There were many deaths in the Season 4 premiere -- albeit of newly introduced characters -- but the central cast of "The Walking Dead" didn't respond to them in the same way they used to. While Tyreese was incredibly shaken by the idea of facing off against walkers, Beth barely blinked when she found out her new boyfriend had been killed in a supermarket raid.

"That's a danger this world poses, is how are you going to face it, what are the moral decisions you're going to make, and how closed off are you going to become to other people. In some cases, people just give up entirely," Hurd says. "But when people then chose to survive, they become much stronger survivors."

These aren't the only character evolutions audiences should take note of. Those paying close attention to the walkers in this episode probably noticed that some of them aren't looking so great, which is another sign of how much time has passed since "The Walking Dead" originally premiered.

"The older walkers, they get more and more haggard and decayed. They decompose. But there's still new walkers, and you'll see fresher ones," Hurd says of the zombie evolutions. "The ones that are more sort of patient zero won't look so hot."

"The Walking Dead" airs on Sundays on AMC at 9 p.m. ET.

Photo/Video credit: AMC