Get ready for it, The Walking Dead fans. When the AMC zombie drama returns for its fifth season, the opening scene is said to be seriously intense. In fact, from what we were told at Comic-Con by some of the cast and writers, it sounds like the first six minutes of Season 5 are going to be brutal, and some of the cast didn't see it coming.
We sat with The Walking Dead showrunner Scott Gimple, series executive producer Greg Nicotero, and some of the cast at Comic-Con in San Diego last week to talk about the upcoming Season 5 of The Walking Dead. We heard from more than one person that the first six minutes are seriously intense. Andrew Lincoln told us they were shocked by what transpired in this scene, “All of us were just dumbstruck and said, ‘We’re not going to be able to show this. We’re not going to be able to show this.’” And then he added, “We are showing it.”
No details were given on what exactly happens in these first six minutes, but Greg Nicotero did say he and Scott Gimple collaborated on it together. Gimple pitched him the idea, Nicotero envisioned it and came up with a plan, and then they went about shooting it… without informing the cast of exactly what was happening. “I remember when we were filming it, the other actors had no idea how I choreographed things,” Nicotero told us. “So when certain events occur during those first few minutes, everyone’s reaction was ‘Holy shit, did I just see what I think I just saw?’”
Nicotero said the secrecy was inspired by that scene Ridley Scott did in Alien, when John Hurt was on the table and none of the other actors knew what was going to happen. Leaving them out of the loop prompted genuine reactions. “I kind of stole a little of that,” Nicotero told us. “Because I didn’t want these guys to know what was coming up, and it worked really well.”
In discussing the brutality of the series, Nicotero noted that it’s intended to serve the story. And while Gimple admitted he’s a little weirded out that families are going to be watching this scene, he does seem to appreciate that The Walking Dead gives families something to talk about. Beyond the violence, Gimple notes that there is positivity in this series. “It is ultimately, I think one of the most positive shows on television,” Gimple stated. “One of the most humanistic shows on television. A show that is about people trying to stay together, trying to not just stay alive but keep their humanity alive. There’s a lot of nihilism on TV. Like ‘nihilism is super cool,’ the antihero and everything. I grew up at a time when Megadeth and Metallica was like the music. I dig the music, but I kind of had my fill of nihilism when I was a kid.”
The Walking Dead does seem to find a balance between violence and hope, and a part of that is incorporating arcs like Glenn and Maggie, or Rick and Carl, or some of the other varying bonds of love we’ve seen develop and evolve between the lead characters. As Gimple puts it, it’s all about feeling that swath of human experience. “To see a couple be able to feel that faith and that love, and then in the next episode see a guy tear another guy’s neck out with his teeth out of just blind rage and survival to protect his children, that’s the whole of human experience. We’re not just saying it’s one way or another. Love definitely exists on The Walking Dead. It’s the thing that keeps them going. It’s also an incredibly dangerous thing.”
So we’re likely in for more character drama in Season 5, but it also sounds like there will be no shortage of violence either. In fact, when the subject of the series’ darker moments came up in front of Norman Reedus, his response was simply, “You haven’t seen nothin’ yet.”