Got your zombie survival kit handy? Good. Now toss it in the trash, because nothing can save you from the return of The Walking Dead.
Premiering Sunday, the zombie apocalypse show's second season is twice as long (13 episodes versus its original six)—and twice as terrifying.
Here's what star Jon Bernthal told us about TWD's "very high-octane action-packed premiere"...and what happens next:
"It gets very, very dangerous, very, very fast" for Bernthal's Shane and his dwindling group of survivors, on the run again after their temporary sanctuary at the CDC blows up in their faces.
But as Shane's desperate assault on Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies)—his lover before her husband and his best friend Rick (Andrew Lincoln) rejoined them—shows, zombies aren't the greatest threat.
"They'll always be a threat, but it's a [manageable ] threat," says Bernthal. "What will prove to be the real danger for this group of survivors is the evilness that exists in the human condition—things like jealousy and rage and shame and guilt...Human beings will make decisions that will prove far more dangerous than any zombies."
That includes Shane, "fueled by loneliness" and viewing himself as "a sort of a cancer to the group" since his relationships with the three people he loves the most—Rick, Lori and Carl (Chandler Riggs)—are "forever tainted," says Bernthal.
The group does "reinvest in each other" and "new hope is restored" when they find a refuge at Hershel's farm, but Bernthal warns, "There's nothing idyllic or safe about anything in this world that we've created."
Robert Kirkman created this world in his comic books, but it was Frank Darabont who brought it to TV. His abrupt departure, says Bernthal, "was a huge blow to us...we all love him and miss him terribly." But the cast writers and "badass" crew, all of whom Frank hired (including his replacement, showrunner Glen Mazzara), "are doing their best to carry on his vision," Bernthal told us.
Another Darabont hire, special effects guru Greg Nicotero, is directing his first episode this season, which Bernthal confirmed they are shooting now. "He's a wonderful director," Bernthal raves. "What sets him apart is that there's an authenticity and a unique nature to every zombie he creates—everything he does is steeped in and centered in realism. And he does [the same thing] with the storytelling and working with us in the show...he's a genius."
The Walking Dead's 90-minute season premiere showcases some of Nicotero's finest undead effects, so make sure you tune in to AMC Sunday at 9 p.m.—but save your snacking for after the show. You have been warned.
Come back here Sunday night after the show and share your reactions to the shocking ending. We're dying to hear from you!