The Walking Dead Season 10 Premiere Inspired by John Carpenter’s The Thing

Greg Nicotero, director of Sunday’s Season 10 premiere of The Walking Dead, says its opening 30 seconds — which took the series into space for the first time — is reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing. The episode, “Lines We Cross,” started with a Russian satellite hurtling through space before revisiting the survivors training as a militia-like fighting force under Daryl (Norman Reedus) on a beach. The satellite later crash lands to Earth, starting a massive blaze that threatened to burn down the Oceanside community. In fighting that fire, members from across the Alexandria, Kingtop and Oceanside communities reinforced the bond that was renewed just before Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the Whisperers committed an act of terror against the survivors.

“It was super fun. I remember reading the script and that was our goal. We wanted the audience to be like, ‘Wait a minute, what’s happening? Why are we out in space?’” Nicotero told EW. “So I always compared it to John Carpenter’s The Thing, where there’s just like two shots of space and there’s something that’s falling towards the planet, and then BOOM, you’re into the story. So that was where I took a lot of the inspiration for those early shots. And you don’t really know why you’re seeing it, but then what’s so cool about the way the story unfolds is each act is almost a rewind. And you get to experience different people’s revelation about the satellite. And the way that it ties the different communities together.”

Nicotero also paid tribute to Steven Spielberg’s Jaws in the episode’s opening minutes, where Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) is horrified to discover a washed up Whisperer mask amongst shells collected from a day at the beach.

“Last season they signed this charter and they realize that part of the reason Alpha was able to infiltrate the Kingdom was because these different communities weren’t familiar enough with each other. And I think Michonne and at one point felt some remorse and she’s like, ‘Maybe we could have avoided this if I had allowed these communities to trade a little bit more,’” Nicotero explained. “So we immediately opened with the militia on the beach. And we see that the militia is made up from groups from every single community. And they’re in training, and they’re going through these maneuvers. So you realize that they’re ready to fight. But the Whisperers have been gone for four months. So there isn’t an imminent threat until Judith and RJ find the mask. And then it sort of throws everything into a tailspin.”

When explaining the choice to start the season in space, Angela Kang told ComicBook.com it was part of an effort to reinforce the Cold War-like feel in year ten.

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“Thematically, we wanted to kind of talk about a war that felt like it had Cold War aspects and the Whisperers like always watching our people, and so a satellite felt like a good metaphor for that,” Kang said. “But we also just thought that that was a fun and, hopefully, a strange and exciting way to start the season and, you know, the satellite has other implications for the season going forward as well.”

New episodes of The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.