For the first time in the gory history of the hit zombie apocalypse story, series four ended with a cliff-hanger. It left its entire cast in jeopardy, with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group trapped in a train car in the Terminus.
While their escape promises to be "one badass scene", producers are also focused on keeping the show fresh and coming episodes will see both the landscape as well as the zombies' condition and "rot" worsening dramatically, in turn affecting their behaviour.
"If you have this great group of assassins who survived for a year-and-a-half you have to put them in situations they can't be prepared for," says executive producer Greg Nicotero.
"Last season we had that big scene where all the zombies rained through the ceiling. The writers have done a good job this season of taking that idea and putting our characters in environments with walkers that we haven't seen before ... in season five we're pushing stuff further than we've ever done."
Though the shock value of the show's violence and gore continues to entice viewers, personal storylines will remain at the forefront. As the clan of survivors come to accept they are too far gone to ever return to life as normal humans, season five will "define these characters".
Naturally, who's hooking up with whom will also continue to stir conversations among its fan base.
Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne, says fans have been pushing for a Rick-Michonne rendezvous since season three, but she isn't convinced it will happen. "There is definitely a trust, respect and friendship there," she says. "They understand each other's minds and motives and I think that's why Michonne said, 'I can work with this guy, but I can't work with the governor.'
"Those decisions came fast - she figured out the governor and she figured out Rick was right very quickly. So I can see how people meld things together because that's sometimes just the place to go like - 'Oh they should be together!'
"I just want what Michonne wants, which is a family. Now she has one, I don't know if [romance is] crucial to her."
As for brooding Daryl's love life, all eyes are on what will come of his sizzling chemistry with Beth (played by Emily Kinney).
Reedus has been overwhelmed by viewers pushing for romance, but Kinney isn't sure where the relationship is heading. "The tragedy of last season was that we left them when they were finally [getting close]," she says. "They formed a friendship and bond and got to know each other on a very deep level and when you see them in the funeral home before Beth gets kidnapped something special is happening. But they don't know what it is yet. There are relationships we all have in our lives where you can't put your finger on it - it's just something special."
When: Monday 9.30pm
What: The fifth season premiere