AMC’s The Walking Dead returns in less than a week with a midseason premiere that sees special effects guru Greg Nicotero returning to the director’s chair. If you thought the Season 6 premiere included a huge amount of Walker extras on set (and it did), just wait until you get a glimpse of what Nicotero, his cast and crew were able to do for Episode 9, “No Way Out.” It’s arguably the show’s best episode to date and one that’s certainly not to be missed.
In an interview with EW, Nicotero talked about the scope of The Walking Dead’s midseason premiere and how its thematic elements will resolve conflicts that have been brewing all season. Additionally, this episode features a ridiculous number of Walkers that is hard to imagine, even when you’re actually seeing them all on screen. Nicotero talked about managing a crew that size, deciding to go for a night shoot, and more.
Here’s what Nicotero had to say about where the midseason finale left off and where the midseason premiere will pick back up:
The first half of the season we introduced the quarry and the fact that the walkers had escaped from the quarry, and then we followed our group through all the trials and tribulations of trying to get back to Alexandria, protect Alexandria, and protect each other. And episode 9, basically, takes all of these various storylines and slams everything together in an epic man against the undead battle that is unprecedented in the history of The Walking Dead.
It’s unprecedented because we’ve never seen our group in a situation like this. It’s one thing when the walkers were gathering outside the prison fence, and they had to fight their way into the prison and clear the prison yard, but this is a whole different world because we’re dealing with Rick’s concern about whether the Alexandrians can actually hack it or not. No pun intended.
And dealing with the fact that his group has been separated. Glenn is separated, and Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham are separated, so he doesn’t have his core fighting team with him. Plus, he’s got more to protect. You know, he has Jessie, he has the kids, everybody in Alexandria. So it’s a very fascinating moment for Rick, and to put him in a situation where they have to maneuver through the herd The record that we had established in Episode 1 of Season 6 will already be broken in this episode in regards to the number of walkers and the number of kills. It’s the action movie version of The Walking Dead.
With reshoots and with additional photography and things, I think we were over 1,300 walkers for episode. I had the biggest crew that I ever had on the shoot on set. So again, it’s one of those episodes where we tie up a lot of loose ends, and what’s exciting about the second half of the season is it really launches the show into a different direction, which I know a lot of the producers and a lot of the cast are very excited about. In Walking Dead tradition, we wrap up certain storylines and then we venture forward in the world in a very different way than we have in the past.
Be sure to head over to EW for more from Nicotero, including the decision to turn the major event of the midseason premiere into a night shoot. And as a bonus, The Walking Dead cast lightens things up a bit as they reveal which of them would be the first to die in a real zombie apocalypse:
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