At the start of "The Walking Dead" season four, Rick Grimes and his companions lived in a prison of their own design. By the end, they were locked in a prison of a very different color — that color being blood, with some barbecued brains mixed in for good measure.
But based on the first look at season five of "The Walking Dead" that premiered at the show's San Diego Comic-Con panel, Rick's gang won't stay locked in the A train for long. The new trailer began inside of that cramped, deadly train car, beginning with Rick's savage season four closer: "They're screwing with the wrong people."
We quickly see that Rick isn't wrong: Some how, some way, the cast of "Walking Dead" will bust out of that train and hit the road, continuing the mission to get mulleted scientist Eugene to Washington, D.C., to solve the zombie virus. Except there's a twist: Rick's team will have some new members, in the form of the Termites of Terminus.
Gareth, the icey-eyed leader of Terminus, will apparently agree with Rick and Abraham that the best possible decision at his disposal is to see Eugene's plan through. But that won't happen until he puts the survivors through their paces. In one scene, Rick, Glenn, Daryl and others are tied up and gagged, dropped to their knees, with Gareth and the other Termites positioned to beat them to death. It even looks like one villain is raising a sword behind Glenn's head — not a good sign based on rumors about who's going to die this season.
The truce between Rick and Gareth is tenuous at best, with Rick growling at his reluctant ally at one point: "These people are my family. If you hurt them in any way, I will kill you."
And it certainly looks like the sparks will fly between both parties. Near the end of the trailer, we see an explosion that sends dozens of zombie bodies flying. We even see a flooded basement with the heroes battling water-logged walkers. Clearly, the bloody stakes are raised — something that show runner Scott Gimple proudly declared during the panel.
"When they lost the prison, once they lost Hershel, all bets were off," he said. "I think they found out that you can't come back from the things you've done. You have to live with them. But the things you've done make you incredibly formidable. Everyone who is alive has done unspeakable things. Who do they become? What are they going to be? This season will define who they become."
The season will even define one character thought missing: Beth Greene, last seen being taken away from Daryl Dixon. The trailer shows Emily Kinney's character off on her own, seemingly in a prison of some sorts — a place that doesn't seem to be Terminus.
"I can't tell you really anything about where she is next season," said Kinney. "But I can tell you she's gotten a lot stronger. We've seen her lose her father and leave the farm and she teamed up with Daryl and she learned some survival skills. She's lived a little now. She's not just an innocent teenager anymore. She's taking all those things she's learned and she's taking a different kind of strength into season five. She's going to have to use everything she's got."
Whether it's someone as seemingly innocent as Beth or someone as hardened as Rick Grimes, the upcoming season will put everyone through their paces.
"It's not just Rick who is uniquely prepared to deal with the threat of Terminus," Robert Kirkman, creator of the "Walking Dead" comics and executive producer of the show said. "They're all very capable of doing what they have to do to survive."
"The Walking Dead" returns on October 12.