For us – the viewers – time in the world of The Walking Dead is temporarily suspended with our heroes on their knees before the leader of the Saviors, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). While the months of waiting feel like an unbearable amount of time to find out who meets the business end of Lucille (a barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat), to Rick & Co., that moment has already played out. So it’s a logical step forward for the survivors to start wondering who’s next, what’s to become of them, and just what the hell is up with these Saviors.
That’s where Greg Nicotero comes in. Most know him as a special effects guru, but he also tackled directing duties for the Season 6 finale and the Season 7 premiere, so he knows a thing or two about what happened and what’s going on. In a chat with EW, he lays bare the mythology of the Saviors and explains how they’re not so different from the Alexandrians in the broad scheme of things. While we might beg to differ, we’ve also been with Rick and his crew for many years and we’ve only just met the Saviors; I think that bias is okay, but Nicotero is here to clarify things:
“The Saviors, as sadistic as they may appear, they have a system that works for them. Yeah, they’re fucked up and they’re a little weird, but they’ve been doing this for a long time and they have a very large group. It’s not like it’s a pocket of 10 or 12 people. They have a good thing going and the most interesting thing about them for me is there’s mythos involved with them. It’s like, you hear about this guy Negan, just like you hear about this guy Rick, and you hear about these people. There’s a lot of that involved in Season 7.”
Nicotero expands on that point, suggesting that the mere mention of Negan and his people is equally as threatening and myth-perpetuating as seeing the Saviors themselves in action:
“It’s the mystery and the word-of-mouth that has spread along the countryside about these people, because that’s just as much a character point as it is meeting these guys, is hearing about them,” says Nicotero. “Oh I heard there’s this guy Negan and you got to give him half your stuff or he kills somebody just to prove his point. You know, I think that is as interesting as actually seeing the inner workings of how these places exist.”
One of the best things about the introduction of the Saviors and Hilltop, for that matter, is that it greatly expands the world of The Walking Dead. Sure, that may not work out the best for everyone under the Saviors’ thrall, but it frees up writing room for alliances, betrayals, and a larger scale for politics and warfare alike:
“Negan even says to Rick in the finale, ‘Oh, so you’re the guy that went out there, and you’re the guy that took out my guys, and you’re the guy that did this.’ So, Negan has heard of Rick. Rick has recently heard of Negan. So there’s a little sort of caste system of this castle over here and this castle over here and these guys have heard about them.”
Nicotero also confirms that, now that audiences have been introduced to these three very different settings, we’ll get to see how they work independently and how they interact with each other:
“The nice thing about this season is you will get a chance to see some of these inner workings of these different worlds and these communities and really get a chance to see how much they know about the rest of the world,” says Nicotero. “I think that’s a really good theme for season 7 which is, nobody really knows what the world has in store for them out there. So, the audience, just like these people, goes through these journeys.
The Walking Dead returns for Season 7 on Sunday, October 9th at 9pm on AMC.
For more on The Walking Dead, take a look at some of our recent coverage below:
- First Image from ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7 Looks an Awful Lot Like the Last Season
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- ‘The Walking Dead’ Promotes Four Actors to Series Regulars
- 8 TV Shows that Survived a Showrunner Swap – For Better or Worse
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