Fortunately the show is in capable albeit different hands, and Mazzara has a solid plan of how he wants to go forward with the series, which returns on October 16 with a 90-minute season premiere.
AMC released an interview with Mazzara as part of their Dispatches From the Set series. In it, he discusses how his family reacted to hearing he was named "The Walking Dead's" showrunner -- his son has been pitching him a lot of creative ways to kill zombies at the dinner table -- and how season two's arc compares to season one's.
(Hint: the zombies are still scary.)
"I have to make sure that our band is always threatened, that they're panicked. For this show to be scary, we need to be convinced that the zombies are winning," Mazzara said. "So we really push ourselves as writers to make sure that we are not playing the same gags over and over. That every zombie feels unique, they feel different."
The majority of season two will take place at Hershel's farm, a location fans will recognize from the graphic novel. Though that part of Robert Kirkman's story only took place over a few issues of the comic, Mazzara and his team have stretched it out to fill up much of the season. Mazzara said that has allowed "The Walking Dead" to explore the story and push the characters in ways the novel wasn't able to.
When "The Walking Dead" season one ended, Rick and the rest of their group were still on the run and looking for a place to hide out from the zombie takeover. In the graphic novel, the band of survivors stumble across a farm owned by a man named Hershel Greene, who is living there with his five children and their two neighbors. Rick stays with them for a while, but then discovers that Hershel is keeping zombies locked in his barn, one of which is his son. The zombies eventually break loose and kill two of Hershel's children, pushing him to kill the zombies and accept the fact the zombies will never be normal again. It is unclear how close "The Walking Dead" show will stick to that storyline.
"Our approach to our group of survivors when they reach Hershel's farm is that they are a plague unto themselves. Nothing goes right for Hershel once Rick and his band show up. They make the zombie apocalypse look like kids in a candy story," Mazzara said.
As for which character Mazzara is most excited to bring into the fold, he told AMC that he is "dying to meet the Governor." The fan-favorite character isn't exactly a part of the Hershel Greene storyline, so it is unclear whether he will be introduced this season or not.
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