Life behind bars isn't an appealing outcome for most people. But in the zombie apocalypse, there are few places more desirable than an abandoned, high-security prison facility.
That's the lesson viewers will learn on the season three premiere of "The Walking Dead," debuting this Sunday (October 14) on AMC at 9 p.m. ET. At long last, the small-screen adaptation of Robert Kirkman's horror comic arrives at what's arguably the richest material his books have to offer: the prison that acts as a shelter for Rick Grimes and his companions for more than thirty issues.
Read on to learn more about the prison seen in the "Walking Dead" comic books, and how you can expect it to translate to television throughout the show's upcoming third season.
The Heart of the Matter
Ask most fans of the "Walking Dead" comics, and they'll widely agree that the series' best moments took place during the time spent at the prison. It's here that readers first met Michonne. It's here that the Woodbury story began. It's here where so many precious characters meet their grisly end. Even executive producer and showrunner Glen Mazarra agrees that the prison is the source of "the best material" in "Walking Dead" history, previously telling MTV News: "When I think of 'The Walking Dead' book, I think about the prison. I think about the Governor. I think about Rick. I think about Michonne. That, to me, is the heart of that story."
From Barns to Bars
Season two suffered its fair share of criticism for many reasons, not the least of which was its overstayed welcome at Hershel Greene's farm. It was a common complaint among the comic book reading crowd, too; in the "Walking Dead" comics, Rick and friends spend only a couple of issues on the farm before discovering the spacious prison in issue #12. The time between leaving the farm and discovering the prison is a lot shorter in the comics than on the show, too. Whereas several months pass between the season two finale and the upcoming season three premiere, only a few days on the road — and not even one full issue — elapse between Rick's survivors fleeing Hershel's (under considerably less deadly circumstances) and stumbling upon their new maximum security basecamp.
Meet the New Neighbors
At first, it's a relatively small group of survivors who come upon the prison, consisting of many characters who are either already dead on the show or never appeared at all. When security is more assured, Rick and his companions return to Hershel's farm to invite some of those survivors — including Glenn and Maggie — to join their new community. But the prison isn't without its own inhabitants already, too, and we're not speaking solely of the undead. There are others lurking about Rick's new home, some of these folks friendly, and some decidedly not. How much those stories actually come into play on the show remains to be seen; after all, the AMC drama has proven its willingness to deviate from its comic book origins on more occasions than one.
Life And Death In Prison
There's a reason why Mazarra and others consider the prison storyline to be such an integral part of the "Walking Dead" mythos. While the Hershel's farm story lasts little more than two issues in the comics, the time spent at the prison goes on for dozens of issues. In other words, if two issues translated into an entire season worth of farming, then dozens of issues should — emphasis on should — result in more than one season of self-imposed incarceration. The possibility of multiple years of "Walking Dead" imprisonment shouldn't leave you with a case of the yawns, however; this is a storyline that saw the arrival of a serial killer, suicides-by-zombies, and even a full-fledged war against other survivors, after all. It's early days yet, but all signs suggest we're not in for another case of the Sophias.
Fear The Living
Speaking of wars, you've heard of a little place called Woodbury, right? Indeed, the prison isn't the only safe haven for survivors of the zombie apocalypse — though, on second thought, we might want to reconsider the word "safe." The worlds of the prison and Woodbury collided for the first time in "Walking Dead" #27, a confrontation so memorable that it spawned two prose novels with a third along the way. The Governor, the ruthless leader of Woodbury, is set to make his TV debut on the new season of "Walking Dead." But exactly how will the fates of Rick and his prisoners, and the Governor and his citizens, line up with the way the conflict plays out in the comic books? That's a question for another day — in fact, it's a question we'll cover when we examine the road to Woodbury later this week.
Are you excited to see "The Walking Dead" go to prison? Let us know in the comments section below!