The Walking Dead finally returns this week (Oct13) to AMC. With the network’s keynote show, Breaking Bad, having culminated in its fantastic finale not so long ago, TV lovers will welcome the return of Robert Kirkman’s high-octane zombie drama to fill their winter Sunday nights.

The Walking Dead

Of course, binging on seasons one, two and three to catch up on all the action is one option. But that would mean some serious time off between now and Sunday night. No, to get up to speed on the action gone by, and hints of action to come, this comprehensive preview should satisfy all your needs.

Behind the scenes, Scott Gimple has joined the show as show runner, and faces the wrath of Walking Dead fans should things take a turn for critical mediocrity. The horror series has enjoyed record viewing figures – it has more viewers than any other scripted program in cable television – so Gimple’s task is clear.

Andrew LincolnDavid Morrissey
Rick Grimes and Phillip Blake will reignite their rivalry in season four

But the role of a Show Runner is often a transient affair, and it’s as though Gimple hasn’t proved his worth to the show. Having written season two’s ‘Pretty Much Dead Already’ and last season’s ‘Clear’, his credentials and affinity with the show are there for all to see. What’s more, they’re both incredibly dark episodes that question the resilience of the human spirit as well as any physical durability. And as we’ve seen, a twisted soul can be just as damaging as any of the infected.

“I would say season 4 isn’t a total reinvention of the wheel or anything, but I would hate to also phrase it as more of the same either. It’s the same world. It’s absolutely the same show, so nobody is safe,” he explained. (EW)

Norman Reedus and Danai GuriraNorman Reedus and Danai Gurira in The Walking Dead

As we’ve been promised, The Walking Dead season four features a whole new threat to worry about. Rick and his motley crew are still holed up at the prison, and, as the trailer suggests, have managed to carve out quite the community. Pigs, crops; everything seems to be moving along swimmingly. And considering the first episode is called ‘30 Days Without an Accident’ – written by Gimple - it’s fair to say whatever’s coming will be as much a surprise for our ‘inmates’ as it is for us.

“There’s a new threat in that the zombies aren’t really as manageable as they became for a second there in Season 3,” says Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl. “There’s more people now, so there’s more personalities, alliances in some weird ways. We’re all living under the same roof.”

Rick Grimes Waslking DeadSomeone's sabotaging the prison

To get to this point, Andrea wound up at Woodbury, where she met The Governor. Following what seemed to be an infinite amount of desperately bad flirting and tail-shaking, the pair became close, until the true depths of his dark intricacies came to light. The brooding rivalry between The Governor and Rick Grimes simmered but never really came to the boil, and season three seemed to fizzle rather than bang towards the end.

So to recap: Andrea is dead. Milton is dead, Merle is dead – Daryl killed his brother after he became a zombie. Lori died – Carl kills her zombie self. T-Dog is dead. Hershel only has one leg; the other was cut off by Rick below the knee. Glen and Maggie are still going strong. Rick agreed to take in the Woodbury refugees, meaning the prison camp is as busy as ever. Promises of war weren’t really realised in season three, apart from the odd shoot out. But The Governor, having gone berserk and murdering his entire crew – apart from one lucky survivor – is on the loose, and threatens to jeopardise the safety of the camp.

MichonneMichonne + that sword + a horse = a deadly combination

Step up Rick Grimes, who, once again, will surely be enforcing his ‘Rictatorship’ in the fourth season. “In spite of the trauma and action and characters you grow to love and then have to leave, it’s the single most exciting journey I’ve ever been on,” Lincoln says. “The toll is [in] the responsibility. That’s where I feel it, keeping the standard and quality consistent with all the past seasons. And improving it, in fact. I just want it to be the best show we can possibly make, and I suffer a little bit sometimes just with sleep. I don’t want to miss a scene.” (Channel Guide Mag)

Hopefully, Gimple can learn from some of the plot mistakes made by his predecessors in season three and tighten up the fourth season. What’s in line: an even darker horror show, with more plot twists, intrigue and unrelenting action. The Walking Dead returns Oct 13, Sundays 9/8c.

Andrew Lincoln the Walking DeadCan Rick keep the group safe? He better take care of that walker behind him first