After what seems like an eternity, the return of The Walking Dead‘s suspense-filled sixth season is nearly upon us — only a few more days and we’ll all be basking in the glow of zombie blood on our TV screens. In the meantime, we’ve got executive producer Greg Nicotero’s latest interview to pick over.
During a chat with Entertainment Weekly, Nicotero teased some pretty major moments in Sunday’s midseason premiere. So what’s in store for our favorite apocalyptic survivors? Let’s speculate, shall we? (Danger, Will Robinson! Spoilers ahead.)
1. It’s going to be a total cluster, uh, frick… a clusterfrick
In the best possible way, naturally. “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,” Nicotero said. “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.” Nicotero also revealed there are over 1,300 walkers in the episode. Yowza!
2. It will be a departure
I mean this both physically and metaphorically. Not only will the gang be leaving Alexandria, but that will signal a shift in the entire show’s vibe moving forward. “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.” We already know Negan is coming, and that will certainly alter the intensity of the AMC series. But I predict even before Negan’s arrival there will be a pervasive darkness in the second half of Season 6 that comes from losing friends, their idyllic town and, yes, a little hope as well.
3. The danger of accidental casualties will grow
It’s a strange thing — and perhaps testament to the fortitude of our survivors — that the biggest threats of danger have largely been from nefarious humans, such as the governor or Negan. While the walkers are definitely a real concern and have killed far too many allies, the truth is the survivors (at least, the original group) have a pretty solid handle on dealing with the undead. Or they did. In the midseason premiere, we’ll see them get thrown a curveball when the horde descends upon their encampment at night. Says Nicotero of the scene, “I didn’t want it to feel like, ‘Oh, here’s another scene with a bunch of walkers in broad daylight in the sun.'” But because our heroes aren’t used to battling on such a major scale in the dark, and we know the Alexandrians aren’t, it seems safe to assume there will be a few “human error” casualties.
4. Favorites will die
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — some of our favorite survivors are bound to die sooner or later, and the “sooner” part of that equation is quickly approaching. If you’re a fan of the comic world, you already know who dies, when they die and how they die. Or, at least, how they do in the comic series. Since we have no way to know for sure if the show will follow the comic series verbatim, there is a chance not all of the survivors will kick the bucket according to their comic fates. However, it’s inevitable some will die, and we’re a bit overdue for a huge, heartrending loss. Plus, in a recent interview, Norman Reedus (who plays Daryl Dixon, obvi) divulged, “We don’t all survive, and we don’t all take it very well.”
5. The scope will narrow
This may seem like a contradictory statement, given that I just told you there will be 1,300 walkers in the midseason premiere. However, something coexecutive producer Denise Huth said in a video interview struck me: She spoke of “a couple [of episodes] in the back half that are a little bit smaller and more intimate as far as the number of characters involved. Although we knew new characters will be introduced, I feel as though the focus will return to our core group before the fabric of their world really begins to change.” This sentiment seems to be echoed by Steven Yeun’s recent comments, in which he referred to how the journey is about individual survival, yes, but also about how this group of individuals could not survive in this world without each other.
6. Negan will be as bad — or worse — than we think
Although it pains my heart to say it, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is about to become everyone’s worst nightmare. We’ve been hearing the inklings of Negan’s arrival and we know it is imminent. Based on the comic series, we also understand he is a no good, very bad, horrible, naughty man. Hunky, but terrible. Super foxy, but maniacal. OK, OK, you get the idea. And while there’s always the potential AMC will dilute the character’s villainy, the cast hints otherwise. “It’s a part of the comic book that I’ve been looking forward to getting to,” said Andrew Lincoln, aka Rick Grimes. “We do face the most formidable and terrifying threat.” Le sigh.