The Walking Dead has broken many barriers in its eight seasons on the air, and it appears the AMC drama is now about to take a zombie where no zombie has gone before. Cable TV’s biggest series returns on Feb. 25, and at some point during the second half of season 8, we will be treated — if that’s the right word, and it’s probably not — to the show’s first naked member of the undead.
That’s according to executive producer Greg Nicotero, who informs us that, “There’s an episode where we did our first fully nude walker. We’ve never done that before.” No word on the walker’s gender and whether we are talking zombie full-frontal or not, but “fully nude” is fully nude, and no matter what the angle or camera position, it can’t be pretty. So we all have that to look forward to!
But we didn’t get Nicotero on the line just to talk naked zombies — okay, maybe we did. However, while we had the man who also directed three of the next eight episodes, we asked him about what else to expect coming up. (You can also see why he started crying 20 minutes into midseason premiere by clicking here.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How much of what we’re going to see moving forward is about winning the war against Negan, and how much is people figuring out how far they are willing to go to win that war?
GREG NICOTERO: I think the second half of the season, there’s much less talking about what’s going on. Clearly, the balance has shifted. Now that Negan and his group have escaped the Sanctuary, there’s not as much talking about what the ramifications are of what we’re going to do, but now our group has to be on the defensive because Negan’s out and he’s pissed and it’s definitely a different dynamic than the first half of the season.
In the first half of the season, they show up outside the Sanctuary, they lay out the plan and then they head off to the satellite dishes, but I got to say, there are instances when a lot of these characters go rogue and you kind of wonder if they would have just stuck to the plan, would they have been successful? But between Rick going rogue and then Tara and Daryl going rogue, and Michonne and Rosita sort of going out there, there’s a lot of emotion involved around it.
You can’t just say that it’s all military and it’s all tactics. There’s emotion involved in what these people are going through and processing what the world is going to become and what it needs to become for them to exist. I mean, it’s always, what are we fighting for? Any war in the history of mankind has always been based on what are we fighting for?
I noticed that Rick and Daryl were in every single episode in the first half. How nice was it to have those guys back front and center?
Well, we played to the show’s strengths and the characters that have great chemistry. Those guys always have great chemistry when they’re on screen and that’s something that really brings some power to the show. We have a fantastic cast. When Lennie [James] moved over to the other show, we had a really great conversation and the last day of shooting in Georgia, I hugged him and we got a little emotional, just about everything that we’ve been through over the last eight years. I feel like Lennie is part responsible for the success of The Walking Dead.
The scene where he’s sitting in his house, trying to shoot his wife and just completely broke down was one of the moments in the pilot that made me realize that we had something different and that we had something special. He’s such a tremendous actor. You get somebody like him, you get Melissa McBride, I mean, these people really have a power and a charisma and that’s why people watch the show. They watch the show because of the power and charisma that these actors bring to these characters.
Speaking of Lennie James, you’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of actors over the years, but never quite like this with him leaving the show but staying in The Walking Dead universe with the spin-off.
It certainly was different. It’s an exciting time. But also, we have to process the characters that we lose and then question, okay, who’s filling that spot? Who’s filling this spot? Our cast, since the beginning, has always been very organic in terms of how it morphs into different things. We had season 1 and then we had the farm, and then we had the prison, and then we had Terminus, and then we had Alexandria. The dynamics of the show shift and change and I really believe that by the time this season ends, we’re going to see another one of those great opportunities where the show continues to show its strength.
Finally, what’s going on with Maggie? We saw her just kill a Savior in cold blood and ship him back to Negan in a coffin.
In my opinion, one of the most powerful moments in the midseason finale was what Maggie did. I remember watching the cut out of the gate, and when she pulled the trigger and then turned and walked away, you just saw that weight on her. She’s still human. She still has morals, so she’s at odds with how to move forward. She knows that there are things that she’s going to have to do that she’s probably not going to believe in. We’re going to see a lot more of that in the second half of the season, where Maggie comes into direct conflict with what her morals are and who she should be versus protecting her people and protecting the hilltop. It’s pretty polarizing what she does and what she’s able to do, and we have some great things to see from her.
For more Walking Dead scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.