'The Walking Dead' Season 5 brings 'new blood' and stronger bonds, tease cast and EPs

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the-walking-dead-cast-comic-con-gi.jpgThe cast of "The Walking Dead" was in a bit of a bind at the end of Season 4 when they found themselves locked inside a train car by a hostile group of survivors who, to top things off, are most likely cannibals.

Fans know from the show's Season 5 trailer, revealed during San Diego Comic-Con 2014, that the gang eventually escape their confines and begin their journey toward Washington, D.C., but the "how," "when" and even "who" remain mysterious. Thankfully Zap2It sat down with the show's cast and producers during group interviews at the convention in the hopes that they'd shed a little light on "The Walking Dead" Season 5.

"I don't think it's going to get any lighter for our characters," Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl Grimes, says. 

Carl had a few fun moments during Season 4, like when he found a massive tin of chocolate pudding and kept the entire can to himself. Riggs says those moments are important, but won't be as prevalent in Season 5, which is "really intense."

At least the conflicts between Carl and his father, Rick, may be over. "He's learned to respect Rick fully and really be able to see what he's going for, and that Carl actually really does need Rick to survive," Riggs says.

The same can't be said for Rick and the rest of the show's cast, especially the new characters being introduced in Season 5. 

"If you stand alongside Rick, if you stand beside him, you're family. If you stand in front of him, you're a problem," Andrew Lincoln says, teasing that Season 5's Rick is more effective than ever. "I think he's someone who has no doubt that the brutality and the humanity within him are just as valid. There's no conflict anymore. He's incredibly pragmatic, he's very uncompromising, and, as a result, an incredibly formidable leader." 

Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne, adds that the characters on "The Walking Dead" become more dangerous as they come to care more for the people around them. "If you have people to protect, you can actually be more ferocious," she says, comparing Michonne in Season 5 to a lioness defending her cubs. "She will go, I think, further to protect them than she would have done before."

Norman Reedus says a lot has been building up in his character Daryl Dixon since "The Walking Dead" began. "It's not like you go into Season 5 and you say 'I'm going to do it this way this time,'" he says. "It's a gradual change from Season 1."

And that's far from an accident, "The Walking Dead" executive producer Greg Nicotero explains. "There's little seeds that are planted all the way down our path, and you never know what's going to blossom or how it's going to grow," he says. "Right now, where we are in [shooting] Season 5, we're almost at the midpoint of the season, so all those little plants -- everything's sort of blooming, and everything's blossoming."

Scott Gimple, who enters his second year as "The Walking Dead" showrunner with Season 5, says that every single line of dialogue in the upcoming season will be important. 

"With all these people together, wherever they may be, there is an escalation and de-escalation of these characters onscreen," Gimple said. "There's a little bit of 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.' Sometimes these guys are Hamlet, and sometimes they're Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. And yet we take -- and I've been working with all the writers on this -- if there's one line, or two lines, we use that toward the overall story."

Based on the Season 5 trailer, it's clear that the cast of "The Walking Dead" will soon welcome several new arrivals, particularly in Beth's storyline. The character, played by Emily Kinney, was separated from Daryl toward the end of Season 4, and in the trailer it's clear she's in a new environment with unknown characters. 

"For me it's been a little sad. Obviously I've been separated from them, so I haven't gotten to see my friends and coworkers -- you know, the cast -- as much," Kinney. "But it's been really fun. I've got some new skills. I'm ready."

"The Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman says Beth's situation may play out similarly to the plights of the other characters who were separated from the main group last season -- i.e. with her own episodes that focus solely on her.

"As you saw in Season 4, we can say 'OK, now there's just going to be an episode of Tyreese and Carol and a bunch of kids that's really sad, and we're going to focus on these characters for this, these characters on that,'" Kirkman says. "It's something that we've had the freedom to be able to do, so I would expect a little bit more of that here and there as we progress."

Kirkman adds that the show's cast will continue to rotate -- which means fans' beloved characters will likely continue to die. 

"There's always going to be new blood coming to the show and new characters being brought in," he says. "That's part of the evolution of this show, that our cast is continually changing. As unfortunate as that can be at times, it's just the nature of what we do, and I wouldn't expect Season 5 to be any different."

"The Walking Dead" Season 5 premieres Sunday, Oct. 12 on AMC.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images