The Walking Dead: Greg Nicotero Talks Negan, Romance, & Big Moments Ahead

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The Walking Dead is moving at a pace like never before and toward a villain audiences are not ready for. People are hooking up left and right in Alexandria and moments of happiness are clouding the air while somehow being mixed by moments of chaos and death.

With four episodes remaining in its sixth season, The Walking Dead is setting up character growth, lots of romance, and a big bad villain you may have heard of by name. had the chance to talk with Greg Nicotero, who directed Sunday night's Not Tomorrow Yet episode about the aftermath of Rick's choice to raid the Saviors compound and more of the things to come before season six comes to an end.


CB: I like to start with a question from Twitter and this time, Joseph Carrigan wants to know, "Is the season finale going to end on a cliffhanger?"

GN: I don't know if I can answer that just yet. We're still playing around with the pacing of that episode. I can tell you that the last episode, the pace and the build of what happens from the teaser to the end, it's a pretty precipitous drop to a very dark place.

In Sunday's Not Tomorrow Yet episode, Glenn kills somebody for the first time. What was the reasoning from the writing and production perspective to have this character get his hands dirty?

In my opinion, they're all being forced to get their hands dirty. The episode opens with Carol very, very honestly baking cookies and delivering cookies and flirting with Tobin. She's struggling to make a new life for herself and then Rick shows up and he's like, "Hey, by the way, we're gonna have to kill people," and it's one of those things where the entire first part of the episode shows people going through relationships and emotions and breaking up and getting together and saying goodbye and doing all these things which make the humanity exhibited there dark in direct contrast to, "Oh, by the way, we're going into the compound at night when they're asleep and we're preemptively killing all these people."

With Glenn, it's something that he's been very fortunate about not ever having had to deal with in the past. He has the great conversation with Heath, where he's like, "I've never had to do this before and now we're about to do it." But they're willing to do it because it preserves their way of life. I mean, when Rick says in the church, "Alright guys, anybody that's not down with it, let's talk about it. I love the fact that he's not setting the law. He's putting it out there for a vote. Nobody except for Morgan stands up and says, "I don't think we should do this. So, Glenn is onboard. That scene was pretty intense to shoot. I think what the button of that whole moment is, he takes the knife out of Heath's hand and spares Heath the same fate that he has just put upon himself which is having to kill another human being. And then he stands up and looks at the wall and sees the Polaroid collection of bashed in human heads. That takes a little bit of the sting out of it. These people relish in a perversed way in beating people's heads in with a baseball bat and take photos of it and put those photos on their wall. There's a weird justification in Glenn's mind, like, "You know what I just did this horrific thing by taking another human life," and as he's about to walk out the door, he realizes, "Maybe I just saved someone from the fate that I'm looking at," by looking at these photos.

I love that Eugene was wearing the "Virginia is for Lovers" shirt because we have so many relationships and love triangles now. Carol and Tobin are sort of a thing now, so I'm wondering, what's that going to be like going forward and will it have any effect on Daryl?

First off, the t-shirt was something that was very specific that Scott Gimple had requested. That moment, the break up moment between Abraham and Rosita is so raw and it's so emotional and when we shot that scene, both Michael [Cudlitz] and Christian [Serratos] were taken to a different place. It was something I hadn't seen before and I was just amazed. During the rehearsals, Josh [McDermitt] would just step out and be like, "Hey, have you tried these cookies?" and we would all start laughing because it was so ludicrous! Then, when we started rolling and he stepped out, it had a completely different feeling to it. It's an amazing piece of acting by those actors. I think the fact that he's even wearing that t-shirt is another great piece of this character Eugene that we've come to love. I really want to give huge kudos to Michael and Christian for that sequence. It was really amazing.

But listen, I think Carol is trying to normalize her life. You know, Tobin is a great guy. When she's like, "Are you messing with me?" and she's kind of flirting with him a little bit... I don't imagine Daryl would have an issue with that. I don't know why he would. Daryl's got his own stuff that he has to deal with, so, I don't know.

Scott Gimple teased that we may see Negan in this episode or any episode before the finale, so I'm wondering, did we see Negan or a photo of Negan in Not Tomorrow Yet and possibly miss it?

I think the pictures on the wall are pretty self explanatory. What we do very, very well on The Walking Dead is we leave a very clean trail of clues that allows the audience to start putting things together. So, the fact that Glenn sees the Polaroids is meaningful because that's clearly evidence that these guys are not screwing around. In terms of whether we've seen Negan in that compound or not, I don't think we did. I think if we did, he'd probably be dead because they did a pretty good job of expunging everybody that they found at the compound but they still don't know who or what he is. It's a weird kind of, "I am Negan," "We are Negan," kind of thing.

That brings up my next question. Having read the comics, we have a pretty solid idea about who Negan is, but much of the audience and all of the characters don't really know much other than what they've been told so far. That said, Rick is still willing to go out and kill a group of people for food. Can we still consider him a good guy with good morals on all counts?

I think that's a fantastic question because if I was in a group and I came upon Rick's group, I don't know how I would process them. I don't know how I would determine whether they're a good group or not a good group, especially if I was witnessing them raid this compound and kill everybody in it. I would be very curious to see what people would perceive Rick as. Clearly, he's got a team. He's got a pretty significant group behind him but if you were watching from a far, I don't know that you'd be able to say that Rick is genuinely a good guy or not. These people are doing what they need to do to survive, just like any other group out there needs to do. The question is, "Who's gonna get the upper hand?"

I think the question is, "What would Hershel do?"

That is a great question! Because as we know, Morgan stands up and he goes, "Why don't we talk to these people?" Who knows what would have happened if they would've made the effort to just have a pow-wow and say, "Let's see if we can make a deal." You know, as the lead Savior pointed out in episode 6x09, he's like, "We usually start out by just popping one of you and that's how our conversations begin." So, these guys clearly have a set of rules that they live by and their rules conflict directly with our group's rules. It's a fascinating world.

By the end of Not Tomorrow Yet, Maggie and Carol are kidnapped and hostages. How is that going to play out and what is Rick's mindset when he hears that someone can see him and knows what is going on?

I think Rick's pissed, first and foremost, because he's been pretty much in control since as long as we can remember. The last time that he wasn't was in the opening of Terminus and they found a way out. I think it's interesting that our group's level of confidence grows, they become more daring. You know? Sneaking into a compound at night, that's a pretty bold and daring move. In terms of when and how that's gonna play out, you'll just have to tune in because I don't wanna spoil that, but I can just say that Carol and Maggie may have let their guard down a little bit. I think it's a great line when Carol says, "You're not supposed to be here. That's not who you're supposed to be." I think it's very telling because Carol looks at Maggie as a promise for the future and an opportunity to bring life to the world, not death, but Carol has been so unsuspectingly dragged into this world of having to kill.

Finally, in the remaining four episodes it looks like the pacing will stay as high-octane as it's been to start this back half. Do you think there are any moments which top Carl getting shot in the eye or the action of Not Tomorrow Yet, especially for you from a visual effects standpoint?

Yeah but I'm not gonna tell ya what it is!


The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 PM ET on AMC.