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02.07.2014by: Jake Dee

Top 10 Storylines to Follow When The Walking Dead Returns This Sunday!

Well well, after a two month respite, look who slowly ambles its way back onto AMC this Sunday night. That's right y'all, "The Walking Dead" finally returns this week to give us the first of eight final frames of season 4. F*cking stoked, right? Hell yeah we are! And not just to get our dose of flesh-starved zombies running roughshod, but for all the intriguing storylines and character trajectories that need to be addressed, sewn-up, resolved and foreshadowed. I mean, we last left off in a state of utter upheaval, and tuning in to found out how it all unfolds should be just as compelling as the unbridled carnage the show continues to deliver in spades. So it's pretty simple folks, we've got the Top 10 questions/storylines to follow when "The Walking Dead" returns this Sunday. Beware of spoilers!

#10. HOW WILL THE DYNAMIC BETWEEN RICK AND CARL PROGRESS IN THE FINAL 8 EPISODES?

According to current showrunner Scott Gimple, a lot of changes are going to be felt between lead characters Rick and Carl. In fact, the second half of season 4 promises to differ vastly from the first, primarily due to the situation the two find themselves in. Here's Gimple's quote: "It's going to hit [Rick] in a way that we haven't seen before… If it's just the two of them, [Carl is] going to have to step up quite a bit because circumstances are wildly different and a lot will depend on him in terms of them just surviving. They don't have an awesome, dual-layer fence and brick buildings to hide behind. They're out in the world." So Carl is poised to grow up even more. Think he'll be an asset or liability?

#9. WHAT'S UP WITH THE GNAWED UP VERMIN?

So, what the hell is up with all the masticated rats this season? You know, that weird hint we got of things to come in the season 4 premiere, only to be completely abandoned for the subsequent six episodes or so. But then, remember in the midseason finale...that gnarly dissected rat sequence? Yeah, WTF?!? Who's behind such animal cruelty, and to what end? Will a new villain emerge from the revelation of such? Will zombie vermin become a new obstacle the crew has to deal with? That'd be pretty f*ckin' rad if so! Either way, we want answers damn it!

#8. DID BABY JUDITH SURVIVE?

Most likely, no, Judith did not make it out alive. Of course, all we really have to go on at this point is the disturbed reactions of Rick and Carl when they happened upon Judith's vacated, gore-soaked car-seat. However, former showrunner and director Greg Nicotero has publicly stated there is likely good reason for such reactive dismay between papa and son. Question then becomes, how bad did baby Judith get it? And what the hell happened to her body? Will Rick and Carl stumble upon that as well, or will we be left in the dark completely? How will her disappearance (death) affect the rest of the group moving forward? Tune the f*ck in to find out!

#7. WHAT'S WITH THE MYSTERIOUS RADIO VOICE?

One of the unsolved mysteries so far in season 4 is who the hell's voice is on the other end of the radio dispatch. You know, the eerie tonality that got inside the heads of Daryl, Michonne, Tyrese and Bob while they were stuck in isolation. Yeah, who the hell was that? And even if the person is revealed, how much of an impact will they have moving forward. Will that person play a larger role, even if only a vengeful target for the others? Let's hope this isn't a throwaway red-herring and instead pays off in satisfying fashion. Let's go writers, tie this shite together tightly!

#6. HOW AND WHEN WILL THE GROUP REUNITE?

As is usually the case when the larger groups splinters off into factions, we must anticipate, at some point, that the group will come back together and fortify itself in numbers. But just how will that go down? Who exactly will be involved? Will Rick's crew from the prison reunite and press on, or will some stragglers from Woodbury try to defect and follow suit? If the latter, how will that dynamic play out? Smoothly or tumultuously? My guess is, if that happens, things are going to get awfully prickly. And by the way, where the f*ck is Carol? Will she come crawling back to the group or continue on in solitude? For that matter, where the hell is Lily?!?

#5. WHAT IS THE BRIGHT END THAT ROBERT KIRMAN ALLUDED TO FOR SEASON FINALE?

About a month ago, "TWD" author and producer Robert Kirkman took to the press to offer a ray of glimmering light regarding the season 4 finale. He didn't specify, natch, but he did say that "we started the season pretty hopeful and pretty optimistic...we'll open our last half of the season pretty bleak and we'll move them to something a little more hopeful by the end." Wow, hopeful? "The Walking Dead"? Seriously? Somehow I believe that statement was a little tongue-in-cheek, but we shall find out 8 weeks from now. You have any guesses regarding a happy-ish ending?

#4. IS THE GOVERNOR REALLY RETURNING?

You guys recall the rumor that dropped on New Year's eve? You may have missed it, but apparently word was swirling around the internet at that time that The Governor - who we last saw take a bullet to the dome - will be returning in some form or fashion in season 4.5. Totally plausible right, especially considering the way writers were able to bring back Merle after suffering a similar fate. Here's what David Morrissey himself said about the sitch: "Something happened to him. I feel like a shady politician where I can't confirm and I can't deny anything...Certainly, bad things befell him at the end of the last episode but we just have to wait and see." Indeed, wait and see we will!

#3. WHERE'S THE NEXT PLACE OF REFUGE: THE SANCUARY OR ALEXANDRIA SAFE ZONE?

Now that the prison has been abandoned and factions have gone off in different directions, where will the next place of refuge be? And since such safe havens are always a contentious plot point in the show, an impetus for inter-human civil war, will a new heavy arise from such a new locale? In the comics, Negan and his cronies (known as The Saviors) are the next to face Rick and crew following the The Gov's demise. So does that mean his "Sanctuary" will be the next destination for the crew? Or will the new location be, as comes next in the comics, "The Alexandria Safe Zone." Either way, my guess is the mysterious radio voice will tie in somehow.

#2. WHO WILL BECOME THE NEXT HUMAN ENEMY OF RICK AND THE GANG?

So, if The Governor doesn't not make a healthy return to wreak some havoc on Rick and the gang, who do you think will ascend to become the group's next human foe? Mention has already been made of Negan, the formidable foe that chronologically succeeds the Governor in the comic books. That said, we know how much the show has deviated from the text at times, so there's really no telling for sure who will be tormenting Rick and the crew as season 4.5 commences this Sunday. You have any guesses? Any clues or tips you wanna share? I'm trying to think of old casting news for people who've yet to pop up. Well, no matter who it is, they have their heavy lifting cut out for them. The Governor was no goddamn slouch!

#1. WILL ANY MENTION BE MADE OF THE SERIES SPINOFF SHOW?

As you may know by now, AMC is all about spinning-off from a couple of their flagship programs: "Breaking Bad" is one, and "The Walking Dead" being the other. Well, about three weeks ago, an AMC exec said the latter spinoff is still "in development...really in the incubation stages." The same exec also hinted that, in the very first comic Robert Kirkman wrote for "TWD" has a strong delineating note that could serve as the basis for the spinoff. Which kind of makes you wonder, since Kirkman is also heavily involved the scripts for the show, will he be foreshadowing any kind of tangential material in season 4.5 that could be parlayed into the next series? If so, what will it be? Who will be the main focus? Will any of the characters cross over, a la "Better Call Saul"? Or do you think it's still too early to even worry about such a thing?

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