It’s been a month since the thrilling season two finale of The Walking Dead, but when the show’s producers and cast members convened for a panel at the TV Academy in Holllywood last Friday, we were more than ready to discuss the exciting second season and – most importantly – tease out any details about the “best season yet,” which is set to return this fall.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Executive Producers Glen Mazzara, Robert Kirkman (also the creator of the original comic books), Gale Anne Hurd and Greg Nicotero were all present, along with cast members Andrew Lincoln (Rick), Jon Bernthal (Shane), Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori), Laurie Holden (Andrea), Steven Yeun (Glenn), Lauren Cohan (Maggie) and Scott Wilson (Hershel). With so much of the show’s creative talent present, there was a lot of information shared – here’s what we could glean in terms of teasers for the upcoming season:

Hershel May Not Be Around Much Longer: Though the producers ultimately decided not to kill of Hershel in season 2, when asked about the trigger-happy character’s fate in season 3, Mazarra simply said “we’ll see what happens” – not a good sign.

Prepare For Some Even Gorier Zombie Deaths: Kirkman revealed he is testing AMC to see how disgusting they can make the zombie kills and that his goal is to “get to that point” of knowing the “limit” of gruesome violence.

Finally, T-Dogg (played by IronE Singleton) Will Get More Screen Time: Mazzara acknowledged that the fan-favorite character has been underutilized (one of the biggest complaints from fans), and will most likely continue trending on Twitter in season 3 “in a good way.”

Get Ready For the New “Ricktatorship”: Always the accommodating nice guy, Rick was pushed past his edge last season when he was forced to kill his best friend Shane. Now with “the other side of the coin” gone (according to Yeun at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo), Rick has become an unpredictable, “slightly bonkers” ruler who has complete control of the group. He will even have Daryl by his side, whose character will alter “in a position of power,” according to Nicotero.

A Tender Yet Zombie-Filled Premiere: Mazzara has just finished the script for the first episode of season 3, and he says it’s “dynamic and action-packed with tons of zombies, but also a lot of quieter moments and a lot heart.” Because the survivors have just been kicked out of their safe haven, they are “desperately clinging to each other,” and “it’s those moments of human interaction and heart that are important.” Sounds like a dramatic beginning to an explosive season!

Furthermore, an Unexpected Death?: Kirkman offered up the juiciest tidbit of the panel, saying in the first episode, “there’s something memorable that happened to a character in the comic that’s happening in the show and it’s not the same character” – perhaps he is referring to Dale’s death in the comics, which involved being bitten by a Walker, kidnapped by cannibals, having his infected leg cut off and eventually dying in Andrea’s arms? If so, that will set quite a high standard for the rest of the season to match.

Beyond these teasers, we know the big stuff to come: new characters like Michonne and the Governor, the establishment at the prison in Woodbury and the exploration of the news that they’re all infected with the Walker-making virus. Also, we know that no one is ever off limits when it comes to deaths on this show (with the possible exception of Rick), and Kirkman’s recent release of his 100th issue comic book cover creates even greater instability surrounding some of the show’s biggest characters (the image shows Rick standing alone next to a mass of dead bodies, including the Governor and Lori). According to USA Today, Kirkman also revealed, “You can’t see it, but Rick is actually holding a birthday cake in his hand. Or, I guess, his only hand.” Could these ominous details translate to the TV series incarnation? Only time will tell – and right now, October feels a long way off.

(Image courtesy of AMC)

Jenn Lee

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jenn grew up in Ohio before moving to Seoul, Korea, where she attended international school and failed to learn Korean. From there she went on to earn a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania before settling in Seattle, where she now spends too much time pondering the power of narrative in TV shows and novels. While she loves a good smart comedy (a la Community or Parks and Recreation), her favorite current show is Breaking Bad; all-time mentions include Arrested DevelopmentLost and Friends. When she’s not consuming television or literature, she’s savoring pastries and searching for the city’s ultimate sandwich.