The Walking Dead was going to follow its cemetery sequence with a big zombie fight scene but elected to emphasize its narrative in the Mid-Season Nine premiere.
Spoilers for The Walking Dead Episode 9x09 follow. Major spoilers!
The Walking Dead's Mid-Season Nine finale was directed by Michael Satrazemis. Where Satrazemis left the group in peril having witness the death of Paul "Jesus" Rovia, Greg Nicotero stepped in for the Mid-Season Nine premiere and script which quickly cut down that tension. Originally, the returning episode for The Walking Dead Season Nine's back half was going to include a much larger feud after the escape from the cemetery.
"In an earlier draft of the script there was a bigger zombie fight after they left the cemetery," Nicotero told Insider. "[Showrunner] Angela [Kang] and I talked about it and we were like you know, that's not really the place for it. Do we really need this big zombie fight? We've seen our characters kill zombies before. We've seen them kill zombies in the fog before. We've seen it. Let's streamline, keep our story focused on what we want."
While the episode steered clear of getting caught up in action sequences rather than storytelling, Nicotero did manage to pay respects to horror legend George Romero with his and Satrazemis' work. In an interview with ComicBook.com, Nicotero described how the scene was really one big tribute to Romero's Night of the Living Dead.
"They went in and did some additional shooting in the cemetery for the end of episode eight, because I think that they realized that we had some great opportunities in this cemetery," Nicotero said. "I mean, I kept saying, 'It's Night of the Living Dead.' We've never shot zombies in a cemetery before, so this is the closest that we're ever going to get to a George Romero homage, which is to have zombies in the cemetery. So a lot of the shots that I did in the [Episode 9x09 opening] are all intended to be evocative of classic horror, and the classic imagery of zombies in the cemetery."
The Walking Dead returns for the back half of its ninth season on February 10, 2019 at 9 pm ET. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season in 2019. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes.