The Walking Dead fans are certainly no strangers to cliffhangers. The AMC zombie show has pulled off one of the most famous mystery endings with the final episodes of a season with its Season 6 finale back in 2016. Now, Season 10 has also offered a mysterious hook to get fans back for more answers as The Walking Dead's universe expands. Comic book fans, however, have a good idea of what's coming when the show's final 30 episodes start airing in the Spring of 2021 through the Fall of 2022. Episode 10x16's cliffhangers ending is only going to fuel the fire as this train heads towards its final destination and executive producer Greg Nicotero shared some insight about that final moment with Comicbook.com.
Spoilers for The Walking Dead Episode 10x16 follow!
In the final minutes of the episode titled A Certain Doom, Eugene's group met some new soldiers which were previously only known to comic book fans. The soldiers are heavily armed and decked out in white, Stormtrooper-like armor. This group is from the Commonwealth, a thriving bunch set in Ohio in the books, but presumably in West Virginia for the TV show.
"First and foremost, the bulk of my work on The Walking Dead for 10 years has been zombies and gags and killing and murdering walkers and disembowelments," Nicotero, who directoed Episode 10x16, explained. "Then we got Shiva and that was a lot of fun because that was different. And then all of a sudden, when we started designing the Commonwealth armor, I think the thing that was challenging was taking Robert and Charlie's artwork and adapting it. Because there are certain aspects of a human body that have to be able to move, but the way the armor was designed and drawn, we had to sort of adapt it to something that was three-dimensional and real. I was really, really excited about getting to make something different for the show. Something that KNB is really good at, but doesn't get the opportunity to do it on the show."
Some extra behind-the-camera movie magic came into play during production because there were not as many soldiers in suits on the set as there appeared to be on the series.
"Interestingly enough, about that scene, we only made eight of suits armor and what we did was we cast somebody up at KNB, and then we sent the measurements to our casting people in Georgia and said, 'You have to cast people that are this body size because it's kind of a one size fits all scenario,'" Nicotero says. "So, we actually designed the armor to fit a certain body size and we 3D printed it and we sculpted a lot of it and then we molded it. We made it out of the same material that we use when we did Predator's and a Alita: Battle Angle and something that is flexible, that looks painted and the gloss can be added to it. But when we shot that scene, we only had eight suits, but I wanted to make it feel like there was more, so we would lock the camera off and then have a couple of guys run in from one direction and then we cut and then we put the same eight guys come in from another direction. And when you put all those pieces together in one frame, it looks like there's like 18 or 20 of them running at the group."
It's bizarre to think The Walking Dead has only 30 episodes remaining before it truly comes to an end (though the franchise will continue with spinoffs and movies). Nicotero couldn't say much about the story's final destination but he opened up a bit about the road there.
"I feel like Angela [Kang] and the writers have done a great job of really keeping The Walking Dead fresh and invigorated," Nicotero says about the show's future. When Samantha [Morton] and Ryan [Hurst] joined and we introduced the Whisperers, I really just felt like the show really got some of its momentum rolling. I know that that's paramount this deep in the thing, which it really keep the momentum, especially now that we know where it's going. I think the audience can feel that we're going to have a clear place that the show wants to land. I think that also means that all bets are off and we can really focus on on that the last bunch of episodes being really just be about servicing the characters and getting us to a great place that people feel is a satisfying ending."
Nicotero is also quick to offer praise for the actors who worked hard on this finale episode, one which was shot in November of 2019 after months of rigorous production schedules beginning in April.
"All the actors, man, they killed it on that episode," Nicotero said. "Seth [Gilliam] was amazing. Melissa was amazing. Cassady [McClincy] was amazing. Ryan [Hurst], Norman, Jeffrey [Dean Morgan], Cailey [Fleming]. That moment where they're in the zombie air lock that I like to call it and Cailey connects with Daryl and they put their hands up together. It's just such a great... There's a lot of emotion in the episode. Josh McDermitt, I think did a great... They all did a great job. A lot of people don't realize it, by the time you get to episode 16, man, we had the shit kicked out of us. We're working our butts off and everybody's been pouring 100% of themselves into the show and it's always a challenge. And I feel like this finale... Every single actor that has seen the episode has called me and been like, 'This is f-cking amazing, man. What a great episode.' I really feel like we left ourselves perfectly primed and positioned for the show to continue. I couldn't be more grateful to the cast and the crew for keeping their level of commitment show after show after so long. Just really, really dialed in."
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The Walking Dead: World Beyond airs Sundays at 10pm ET, following new episodes of Fear the Walking Dead at 9pm ET. The Walking Dead will return for 6 more episodes in Season 10 in the spring. The 11th and final season of The Walking Dead will begin airing in the Fall of 2021.