Andrew Lincoln, The Walking Dead

Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

All. The. Tears. The Walking Dead gutted fans with an emotional death in Sunday night's midseason finale, and now we know it's going to be a looooong wait to find out what happens next!

AMC has just released an exact return date for the megahit action-horror series: Feb 9.

So...what else is in store? Here are five things to know about what lies ahead for the final eight episodes, which have already wrapped production in Georgia:

1. CUDLITZ! In October, it was announced that Michael Cudlitz (Southland) had signed on to a role from The Walking Dead comics, Abraham. Sources tell E! News exclusively that Cudlitz's role is a "massively important one," and one that will deal directly with the leading characters. According to our sources, AMC fought hard to secure Cudlitz for the role, and it was not an easy get, due to budget and timing. We are told that many other actors were up for the role, including a well-known actor from Once Upon a Time who very much wanted the part, but Cudlitz was "perfect" and "will not disappoint." Praise. Be.

2. Abraham: In the books, Abraham (Cudlitz's character) is traveling with his girlfriend Rosita (who will be played by Twilight alum Christian Serratos) and a man named Eugene (who will be played by Josh McDermitt). Abraham and Rosita are with Eugene because he says he is a scientist who has important information about how the zombie outbreak all started. (Can it be stopped?) We are told the role of Abraham will "closely resemble but not mirror the books."

3. The Pace Finally Picks Up: On Sunday's The Talking Dead, star Andrew ("to me you are perfect") Lincoln teased the remaining episodes as "the boldest, bravest and most exciting this show has ever attempted." That is of course good news for fans who have been less than thrilled with the show's slower pace thus far. (Raise your hand!) Executive producer Robert Kirkman called the coming episodes "very intense."

PHOTOS: The Walking Dead's OMG moments!

4. Everything Changes: And you know on this show, that kind of brash statement actually holds true. "Not only have these people lost Hershel, they lost the prison, but they also lost each other," Kirkman explains. "They're out on their own, they're in different groups. There's going to be a lot going on with these different people as they try to survive in the next half of the season."

5. Hershel's Farm? In the books, the group heads to his farm to regroup after a devastating attack. Seems a logical next step for the TV show as well, though producers aren't commenting on where the prison gang heads next. We do know Andrew Lincoln plays a sexy farmer well! Maybe we suggest overalls and a "forgotten" tee? Of course we may not. That's wholly inappropriate. Carry on.

Oh, and you saw the new promo...Right?!

What did you think of Sunday's winter finale, and the pace of season four so far? You excited as we are for Cudlitz's Abraham to come on the scene? Hit the comments!

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