'Walking Dead' Predictions: The Long Road Ahead

Rick and Carl will take center stage when the 'Walking Dead' returns from hiatus tonight (February 9).

Do you feel that thumping in your chest? The sweat trickling down your brow? Can you smell the stench of rotten flesh in the air?

Yeah, maybe you should get that checked out.

But maybe it's just a reminder that "The Walking Dead" is back tonight, resuming its action-packed fourth season after two months off the air. The midseason premiere, titled "After," picks up where the zombie drama left off: Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors have been cast out of their prison, scattered to the nine winds and back on the road. Poor Hershel lost his head. The Governor, too, is dead. And no one knows for sure what happened to baby Judith.

We're bound to get some answers tonight. But before then, here are some of our predictions for what will go down during the midseason premiere.

1. We're going to see a whole lot of Rick and Carl. The prison assault ended with a badly injured Rick and a grieving Carl walking off into the forest, on their own, away from all of their friends. The Grimes family is right at the heart of the show; there's no way the series returns without these two front and center.

2. We're not going to see a whole lot of anyone else. Michonne is on her own. Daryl and Beth are together. Tyreese is off with the children. Glenn is on the bus with the old folks. Maggie and Sasha are taking care of a wounded Bob. There are just too many stories to follow right now in one episode, so expect many or all of the non-Grimes characters to sit out of the premiere.

3. We might see the Governor one last time. That's the rumor making the rounds this week, at least. Even though the one-eyed king of Woodbury is dead (and good riddance to bad rubbish while we're on the subject), there's talk that he isn't gone — at least not entirely. Ideally, we'll see Michonne running around with the Governor's head on as a hat, Garland Greene-style, but we're not counting on it.

4. We're going to get really stressed out. It's "The Walking Dead," after all. Stress is par for the course. It's been more stressful than usual in recent episodes, what with the viral outbreak and the Governor's impending arrival. One can only imagine how much more stressful it's about to get, with our heroes on the road, without the prison to call their home.

5. We're going to feel a little bit of hope. "After" should be a bleak and bloody affair, but not without some semblance of optimism. After watching Hershel go down in the last episode, after seeing our heroes lose each other and their home, it's going to be a tough road — but there has to be some light at the end of the tunnel, right?


6. We're not going to know what happened to Judith. In horror stories, no one's dead until you see the body. We didn't see baby Judith's body — then again, we saw a whole lot of blood in that baby carrier. Judith's fate remains an open-ended question, and we suspect it'll remain that way for at least a few episodes. (See again about "Walking Dead" and stress.)

7. We're going to want a whole lot more. Especially if we only have Rick and Carl, and not the whole gang, at our disposal. What's happened to Daryl and Beth? Is Carol still out there? Can Michonne survive on her own, with nothing but a sword to her name? We likely won't get all of those answers tonight, but you can be sure that we'll be dying for those answers by the end of the hour.

What do you expect will happen on tonight's new "Walking Dead" episode?