Two legs are better than one, but one leg is better than becoming a zombie. At least, that's the logic Rick Grimes is hoping Hershel Greene will accept if — not when — he wakes up on next week's episode of "Walking Dead" and realizes that he's missing a limb.
During the "Walking Dead" season premiere, Rick and his group of survivors battled their way into an all-but-abandoned maximum security prison, securing one section of the facility after another in order to carve out a new home for themselves. But during their episode-closing mission, poor Hershel was the unwitting recipient of a zombie-bite to the leg, necessitating an on-the-spot amputation from a hatchet-wielding Rick.
Hershel's impromptu leg loss marks yet another change between the "Walking Dead" comics and the television series; in the books, the old farmer's feet stay firmly planted on the ground. But savvy comic book readers will recall that a similar leg-chopping does take place in Robert Kirkman's source material — just to a different character.
"It happened in the same way that it happened to Allen in the comics, with him being bitten unexpectedly, and Rick frantically chopping his leg off to the shock of everyone else. But Allen doesn't exist on the television show," Kirkman told MTV News about the premiere's biggest shock. "It's a call back to the comics, another one of those things that fans of the comic book series will recognize, but it comes in an unexpected, cool, and shocking way. It is, to me, yet another sign that the adaptation is going to continue in a way that calls back to the comic respectfully, but still has its own shocks and surprises along the way. I think that's important."
Also familiar to longtime "Walking Dead" readers: the fact that Rick and his friends are not alone in this prison, and we don't just mean the zombies. As in the comics, the premiere sees the Grimes gang encountering a group of prisoners who survived the undead uprising, albeit differently from the way these parties meet in the books. It's not all different, however, as Kirkman revealed that one prisoner in particular comes directly from comic book land.
"Axel's there. He's the guy who says 'Holy s---!' He's a character from the comics and we'll be seeing a lot more of him," promised Kirkman. He also promised that Axel's signature line -- "You follow me?" -- will be uttered at least "a few times" in the coming episodes.
Axel aside, Kirkman cautioned that there would be more significant differences between the comics' prisoners and the show's prisoners to come, yet another move to keep reader-viewers on their toes.
"There are analogues from the comics who do many of the things you saw from the comics, but there are also big changes to the storyline," he teased. "There are moments from the comics that won't make it onto the TV show. Those prisoners borrow a lot from the comic books, but there's new elements added as well."
What did you think of the "Walking Dead" season premiere? Sound off in the comments below or let me know on Twitter @roundhoward!