Kirkman joked to The Hollywood Reporter that they might just use the same trick from the season-three premiere and jump ahead a few months and let fans figure it out along the way:
"You mean jump ahead like two months to after Daryl is already dead and have him dealing with the fact that he was killed by Merle in front of all those people, and just kind of see what the aftermath of all that is? Well I don't know, it's possible (laughs)"
...It certainly seems like an inescapable situation, right? There are people all around them; they're facing each other; the Governor is calling for their death. I'm really happy that we're ending the midseason finale with that. It's going to be very difficult for viewers to stop biting their nails over the course of Christmas and New Year's leading to what's coming back in February but we wanted Daryl and Merle to interact and to see what their relationship is. This is the most intense, interesting way to go about that."
Mazzara said they'll address the aftermath of the cliffhanger quickly once the show resumes Feb. 10, 2013, and seemed to be hinting that they may survive (but, this being The Walking Dead, who knows?):
"People will come back and be very satisfied. They're going to get answers to their questions. We've done the time jump and it's a lot to leave people with such a big cliffhanger for the season, so I'll say it'll certainly be worth the wait and people will be right back into things when we come back in February...
The question is not only can they make it out alive but then where do they go? What happens when Merle and Daryl are reunited and where do they go? How can Merle ever try to fit in at the prison? What is the pressure he would put on Daryl? So there's a lot of interesting story to be told."