PopCultHQ Reviews: The Walking Dead Season 6 Premiere


[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s season 6 premiere of The Walking Dead, “First Time Again.”]

Season 6 of The Walking Dead has finally arrived, and arrive it did in a grand epic scale the likes never seen before on the hit series. As those who watched the show can attests, the season 6 premiere of The Walking Dead had more zombies than ever, bringing the fear factor to another scale. We also learn why the city of Alexandria was able to stay secluded for so long from the zombie violence unlike the rest of the world.


Why the use of Black and White?

First let’s get the main confusion out-of-the-way. Yes there were two color schemes used in the episode. Showrunner Scott Gimple had the brilliant idea to use black and white scenes as flashbacks as the story unfolded. The color version is the show unfolding in real-time on the day that the group is planning their practice run. The black and white flashbacks tell the story of what happened to the group immediately following the events of the season 5 finale. But from the time those flashbacks start, on the night of the meeting where Reggie died and Rick shot “Porch-Dick” in the face, to the day of the “dry run,” must have taken weeks.

Also, not only was the show being shot with flashbacks, if you pay attention to the words Rick says at the start of the show in color, they are the same words he says at the end of the B&W flashback scenes. So the flashbacks started showing us what transpired weeks ago till we reach the very afternoon of the “dry run” colored current timeline. Still with me here? Good.

While a lot of fans seemed to be either annoyed or unimpressed by the use of greyscale, I actually loved it. I even posted that night on Facebook how I felt this must have been an homage to the comic books (which have always been in black and white). Robert Kirkman also felt it was an homage to his comics as he said in an interview released the following morning. The theory was later confirmed by Greg Nicotero (director) during a different interview he himself did.

“I thought it was brilliant on Scott’s part, It was not originally the plan. On the original cuts, everything was in color. There were some scenes here and there where you would go, “Wait a minute, was that before the opening scene or after? Are we in the past? Which one’s which?” When Scott came up with the idea to go, “Screw it, let’s make everything in the past black and white,” that’s when it really came together.

I think it elevates the episode in a weird way to have this unique thing that you never really see in an episode of The Walking Dead. It really makes the storytelling so clear and it really brought that episode together in a way that got us all excited. It is a very complicated episode; you’re relying on the viewers to be able to keep track of everything that’s going on. The black and white just really kinda drove it home that yeah, we could accomplish this, and the weird editing we tried to pull it off did work. It was great seeing it all come together. And anytime I can see the show look like the comic, which is in black and white, that’s pretty fun.” – Robert Kirkman


When Greg Nicotero was asked by MTV how difficult was it to film those two sections and if the black and white was an homage to the comics…

“There’s a lot of homages to the graphic novel, and that material. We wanted to make sure that the non-linear storyline was visually apparent when we were shifting from one timeline to the other. It is tricky, and it is challenging, and we don’t want our audience to get confused.

In fact, what I like about the episode is, we start with the end of the episode, and as you go through you start putting the pieces together to figure out how exactly they got to that particular point. I love that idea, that our audience and viewers are dedicated enough, and they want to put the story together, they don’t want it to be so laid out for them.

We had talked about a version where the flashbacks were initially going to be de-saturated, and the present day scenes were going to be over-saturated. The first test that we did, Scott and I looked at it and were like, “Wow, it’s like watching a weird version of ’The Wizard of Oz’,” because the color of the over-saturated present day scenes were so vibrant. They had so much life to them that when you were looking at a zombie horde marching along the road, they were all colorful and cheery. I thought they were going to break out into a song, it just didn’t work.

So in our first test, we played with that… Our world is never vibrant, there’s always this muted feel to “The Walking Dead,” so going to the opening shot where he pulls the trigger, we rip the color out and de-saturate it to black and white — and then go into the flashbacks. It’s a really great device to let our audience know, okay, this is what has happened, and what has got us to this point? We go right into the color and the action and you’re in the middle of it.” – Nicotero


Why were the zombies all in the quarry and why has Alexandria stayed safe?

The Zombies were “trapped” in a massive quarry that was shut off at either end by semi-trucks. This was also the reason why Alexandria was staying safe for so long as Rick pointed out to Morgan when they stumbled upon the location. Though Rick could tell that the upper hill trucks would fall sending them one direction or either the walkers were squeezing trough the lower trucks that led directly into their camp. Action must be taken and Rick has a plan, though he needs everyone help in order to get it done in time.

“Of course in the first episode, I remember asking Scott Gimple last year, “I don’t buy it man, how is this place not overrun with zombies where every other place has been?” Then we open with this quarry and you go, “oh! That’s why,” because this quarry that was to the east of Alexandria, there was just enough noise coming out of the quarry to draw walkers away from the fences of Alexandria into the quarry — and once they went in, they couldn’t get out again.” – Robert Kirkman 


Why did Glenn save Nicholas’s life?

Glenn has always from the start been a very optimistic person. When Glenn is told by the new guy he couldn’t handle what was about to come out of the door for he was just a normal blue-collar worker, Glen lets him know that he himself was just out delivering pizzas. As Maggie said, Glenn needs to know he can help people come back from either being crazy or a coward. Glenn has done so much growing on this show he feels he can now be a teacher as well. In the comic books the character of Nicholas is very different and Robert Kirkman explains it very well.

“I gotta say, I really love that story. Nicholas in the comics is a coward, and there’s an element of that in the show, but Scott Gimple and the writers have taken that nugget and really just expanded it immensely into some really cool stuff. It really is one of the cool adaptations, taking something that happened in the comic and making a meal out of it. It really excites me and gets me jazzed for the show

Ethan Embry playing Carter here and he was kind of stand-in for Nicholas from the comic book, although there’s another Nicholas on the TV show just to make things more confusing.” – Robert Kirkman 


Why did Rick let Carter live after threatening Eugene, only to kill him later?

During one of the flashback scenes, the ass-kicking trio of Rick, Daryl and Morgan walk into the door and find Carter has a gun on Eugene about to kill him. Rick takes the gun back quickly from Carter, knocks him to the floor and gives one of the more iconic speeches in the comic book about “You really think you’re going to take this community from us?” Why did Rick feel the need to leave him alive you ask? Rick later explains to Morgan (again in  flashbacks) he did want to kill Carter, that guys like Carter will eventually mess up, guys like Carter are weak and will eventually end up dying anyway. We come back to present (color) time and sure enough Rick is right once again. Just as Carter comes to concede that Rick is indeed needed, Carter goes off  and gets face eaten by a tree-hugging zombie. Just a stupid rookie mistake, and to make matters even worse Carter starts screaming like a banshee drawing the zombie parade off course. Kirkman was super stoked to see that his lines from the comic were once again used in the TV series.

“I think they both offer their own sense of excitement. I mean, hearing Andrew Lincoln deliver dialogue that was written for the comic a long time ago is always very cool. Seeing locations and environments built from the comics is always awesome. But writing-wise and creatively, it’s the new stuff that excites me the most. As much as I love seeing all the cool big moments from the comic get adapted fairly accurately in the show.” – Robert Kirkman


What’s up with Rick, Carol and Michonne with Morgan? What is Morgan’s new backstory?

Rick, Michonne and Morgan dynamic is going to get very interesting. We see some disagreements between Rick and Morgan on whether to bury Pete, and whether to help Carter when the zombies are coming towards him, and they even disagree on how much they actually know each other. Right now they have a shared history of helping each other so they’re letting some of this go, but where is this heading? Morgan doesn’t trust Carol and vice versa. Michonne and Morgan I think will hook up now that Morgan is invited to live in the same house as her, Rick and Judith. This is funny to me since the last time we seen Michonne around Morgan was when he was still in his “crazy phase”. This is keeping Michonne at a distance but she can be seen warming up to the newer more calmer Morgan. He has learned the stick fighting after he ran into Rick during the “Clear” episode thus learning some sort of yoga calming technique. Morgan had to have a mentor in order to learn all that and in many ways it changed his life. So who was it that ended up being Morgans teacher? Kirkman also has some things to say about the newer mysterious Morgan and how it will affect Rick especially.

“It’s headed to all kinds of places. It’s interesting the way these two characters (Rick and Morgan) have gotten to know each other over time. Rick in some ways has more history with Morgan than he does with a lot of other characters in the show. But while there is a familiarity there, we do meet these characters somewhat as strangers just because of everything Morgan has gone through that hasn’t been revealed yet that may be revealed in a future episode. But the fact that these two characters are so good at what they do and so acclimated to this world but in completely different ways — I don’t want to reveal too much, but it puts them at odds with each other in pretty substantial ways. It’s a product of this world and everything they have to deal with.” 


“There are certainly answers coming. It was certainly meant when Morgan showed up with all his stick fighting skills for the audience to go, “Okay I don’t remember that guy having stick fighting skills. What happened there?” And you know there definitely is a story there, and it’s a story that will be told this season.” – Robert Kirkman

Father Gabriel

Gabriel is about the biggest dick on TV right now, all the Walking Dead viewers are royally pissed at Gabriel for turning on the group and then being a moron for letting walkers through the gate. But then again a great part of the premiere episode was the dark humor, which was very present during the show, from Carol’s lines, to Rick shutting down Father Gabriel at every turn. Kirkman does not feel that people should shut the Father down so fast though for more is in store for him. As for the humor that was in the show, Greg Nicotero had a great BTS story to tell about some lines that were actually cut from the episode that I would have loved to have seen.

“Lot of potential in that character (Father Gabriel). People need to stay tuned.” – Robert Kirkman 

“There’s one thing that didn’t end up in the episode that I laughed out loud when we were shooting. It’s when Rick, Morgan and Michonne walk up to the wall, and Morgan says, “you know I had a peanut cluster back in my house and it disappeared, do you have any idea where it went?” And Michonne’s like, “nope, no idea,” and walks away. It was a funny beat, and we did one take where Morgan is standing there, and he looks up at Rick and Rick just doesn’t make eye contact and walks away. Morgan just stands there shaking his head like “motherf–kers.”

And I laughed out loud when we did it, it was this weird sort of quirkiness in the middle of these 30 thousand walkers that are headed for Alexandria. It was so outrageous, and was just a fun, light moment, you need to have those light moments. So, I shot an extra take where we actually made it even more comedic than it was written. I don’t remember why it didn’t end up in the episode, but I thought it was hilarious.” – Nicotero: 


Is Rick going to the “Shane Side”? 

Many fans are starting to ask the question if Rick is becoming more and more like Shane (his old best friend). Shane was a shoot first, ask question later kind of guy. Rick has been saying over and over that he is ‘no longer taking chances’. Which Morgan was quick to toss in face later on when Rick tries to show the scared people of Alexandria to start standing up for themselves and fight for their lives. To be fair this is all Morgan has seen of Rick. The first time he lays eyes on Rick in months, here is Rick shooting the face off someone. Then Rick is the angry man leading a group of strangers into a war with the zombie world. Not till both men sit on the porch and have a moment to reflect a bit on who they used to be as they also come to realize they are no longer the same men that have met three different times during the apocalypse. As Greg Nicotero has pointed out…

“I don’t know if RIck turning into Shane is the right way to look at that because, same as Shane, they make the decisions for the right reasons — but what we’ve definitely seen in the past 5 seasons, in terms of Rick Grimes is… There is no hesitation to take a life, if it that means it protects a life in that group. And going down that dark path of last year’s theme was, how far can you go before you’re not a human being anymore?

Rick went pretty deep into it after getting out of Terminus, and then losing Beth, and losing Tyreese, and the people who they lost through the season — and then he gets to Alexandria and he’s like, “I don’t care what they say, I’m taking his place because this is where we need to stay to survive.”

So it’s a fascinating story line to basically know that this guy would do whatever it takes, and in his mind they go about it the wrong way. It’s the same with Shane, Shane [had] the same feeling in season two… He just went about it the wrong way. With Rick, he has that freak out when he’s in the middle of the street pointing the gun at everybody — he’s not wrong, those people are lambs and there are wolves outside, literally, wolves, at the end of last season — and Rick is like, “listen if you guys don’t wake up you’re dead. Somebody will come in here and they will try to slaughter you.”

He doesn’t even understand how they can’t see that. Because that’s what’s insane, that they can’t see that they have been completely shielded from everything.” – Greg Nicotero

Who do you think set off the horn? Who are the Wolves? Who is Negan? 

The Wolves: We have finally confirmed that the W’s we’ve been seeing on the walkers’ heads does, in fact, stand for “Wolves,” a group of two-men we first meet when they interrupt Morgan’s breakfast. With an unloaded weapon and a historically motivated explanation for the W’s, they told their tale to Morgan.

“You know, the first settlers here, they put bounties on wolves’ heads. Brought the natives into it. Made them hunt them. Didn’t take them too long to kill them all.  (points to W scrawled on his own forehead) They’re back now.”

Morgan took them out fairly easily with his new sweet ass skills with a wooden staff. He could easily have killed them both but he just leaves them in a car as zombie bait. Are they part of a much larger group? Or what if they happen to be two of the three people that Aaron talked about banishing from Alexandria (two men and a woman)? If that’s the case a personal side to their motivations makes them a whole lot more dangerous than just a group of strangers. They were the ones who set up the trucks boobie-trap that almost killed Daryl and AAron at the end of season 5. They also had found a photo album of the group members including Carl and Rick. There is more then meets the eyes when it comes to The Wolves.

TWD logo

Negan: In the comic book series The Walking Dead, Negan is the leader of a group of over 50 survivors in DC called the Saviors, who pillage and plunder other communities in their surrounding areas for resources in return for their protection against the walkers. Rick and his fellow survivors agree to start a trading network with a Hilltop Colony, when they are ambushed by the Saviors and are forced to obey Negan’s rules and ordered to give half of their supplies away like the other communities. Initially obedient, Rick and the others secretly gather up for war against the Saviors with the other communities in the DC area. Negan resides in an abandoned factory (being labelled ‘Sanctuary’). He soon grows very fond of Rick’s son, Carl.

Will we come right back to when the horn is going off in episode two or will we be dealing with more flashbacks is what we have to expect for the second show of the new season. As far as the previews and trailers show and what Robert Kirkman himself has to say about “JRR” (next episode),  it looks like ALL HELL is going to let loose!

“There will be a little bit of shifting, in terms of, when the horn sounds at the end of one, we will back up our clock for a little bit for episode two, to get an opportunity to see what that is, and how that happens. But nothing more than what we haven’t done in previous seasons, usually a standalone episode here or there. Episode two picks up, probably half an hour before episode one ends.” – Nicotero

When Kirkman was asked what he can say about next week’s episode?

“I’ll just say that seeing that size of herd, knowing that horn is drawing their attention definitely sets the stage for what is to come. As intense as you would expect our second episode to be, it is that much more intense and we don’t stop there. So I would expect a similarly cliffhanger-y moment at the end of episode 2, which will take us into episode 3. Everything you’ve heard about this being a fast-paced season is definitely going to hold true. People just need to hold on and get ready for a pretty wild ride.” – Robert Kirkman

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Source) EW, MTV


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