Though summer seems like a long period to endure without gross zombie killings, The Walking Dead thankfully continues to build hype for its third season during its hiatus. Season 3 production has officially begun, providing fans with a behind-the-scenes video with some enticing actor insights. Plus, we finally get a glimpse of Michonne that does not disappoint.

First things first: the Kitana sword-wielding bad-ass, Michonne. First revealed by Entertainment Weekly, the photo above gives us the first look at the fan favorite mysterious ally. Played by Danai Gurira, Michonne made her first pseudo-appearance as a dark hooded figure in the season 2 finale when she saved Andrea (played by Laurie Holden). According to EW’s article, the onscreen character will be very similar to the beloved comic book version. Comic creator and Executive Producer Robert Kirkman assures fans that her essence “remains intact,” but that there will still be “little tweaks.” For instance, “her interaction with Andrea is going to be a really cool addition to the character that I think will get viewers up to speed,” said Kirkman. “They’ll get to know her a lot faster than comic book readers did.” Gurira was chosen for the coveted part because of her “incredible presence” and her physical ability, which is “just perfect for the role,” shared Kirkman.

The next juicy tidbit comes in the form of a recent on-set video – watch the clip below:

In addition to catching glimpses of the Georgia set and some terrifically dirty actors, the cast and crew offer some tantalizing details for season 3. According to Norman Reedus (who plays Daryl), the new season is “very ominous, dark and gloomy.” More importantly, “people start losing their minds” and “love blossoms” (hmm). Newly promoted regular cast member Lauren Cohan (Maggie) describes the quick change of pace, saying, “From the beginning, you see completely changed characters.” But perhaps the most intriguing quote comes from Holden, who slyly reveals, “We have the introduction of new characters – some that have been announced, some that have not.”

Things are already shaping up for the best season of The Walking Dead and the October premiere is still months away. In the meantime, all we can do is await the next teaser for the “darker, harder, faster, deeper” season.

(Image courtesy of AMC)