The Walking Dead returns this Sunday, and Entertainment Weekly dedicated this week’s cover feature to the show. Usually when they do this, they have a group cover shot, or multiple cover variants for different characters on the show, but this time they’ve given the lone cover to Norman Reedus by himself. I don’t think there’s any question that Reedus is the show’s big breakout star, and that Daryl is the fan-favorite character who’s not allowed to die. That shouldn’t be a problem because I don’t think this show has the stones to kill off a favorite like Daryl anyway.

In conjunction with the cover profile, Reedus took over EW’s Instagram. The photos are not terribly intriguing, which is a bit disappointing given that Reedus is actually a photographer and even on Instagram ought to be able to toss out one or two interesting shots. He also gave a Cribs-style tour of his trailer on set at The Walking Dead which reveals that he keeps a lot of fan art and survives on noodles. He also has a flogger and seems to know how to use it, which I’m sure is sending his fangirls into conniptions. In this era of celebrity, who becomes the marquee star of a project is usually determined by who can play the fans the best, and Reedus is exceptionally good at engaging the fans without grinding up his private life in the process. This is a textbook example of how to be a celebrity in the 21st century.

The profile inside EW teases big changes for the second half of the season, but then, they always talk about change and really, very little changes. Four and a half years into this show and Rick & Co. are still wandering around the Georgia forest in circles. If they ever get out of the greater Atlanta area, I might go into shock. But showrunner Scott Gimple is warning that “the story will shift quite a bit”. Based on the setup at the end of first half of the season, I take that to mean that Rick is giving up on sanctuary and shifting into pure survival mode. That’s really not that huge of a change, though. He’s gone full-Ricktator before, and the end, we still end up wandering around the Georgia forests, debating the value of a home in a zombie wasteland, and shouting for Carl.