With Season Nine underway, reviews for The Walking Dead from fans and critics alike have been largely positive, returning the show to the days of glory with touches of nostalgia. Executive producer Greg Nicotero is particularly excited for the show's revamped direction under new showrunner Angela Kang.
"This season's all really been about going back to what made The Walking Dead great when we first started watching the show," Nicotero told ComicBook.com on the set of Episode 9x12. "I feel like it's very much back to the DNA that we love. The first episode, all of the scenes that I shot, it's like Daryl and Carol, and Daryl and Maggie. They're all isolated. There's nobody else in those frames. I wanted you to be leaning in and listening to everything that they're saying because they say more than two or three f---ing things! They have real conversations! Conversations that you give a s--- about! You're like, 'Oh, that's what Rick is feeling. That's what Daryl's feeling.' They're actually talking. It's the first time we've done that in a long time where there's not those little ellipses of dot, dot, dot and you leave it hanging out there."
A large part of the new structure for the series can be credited to Kang, who also wrote the script for Sunday's Episode 9x01 which Nicotero directed.
"Now we're getting the chance to see these people really interact with each other," Nicotero said. "They care about each other. I loved it. It reminded me of Season Two. Everybody always says, 'Oh, Season Two. It was really boring. Hershel's farm.' I'm like, 'F--- you guys! Season Two, that's when we fell in love with Daryl! That's when we fell in love with Carol because we took the time, and Hershel for God's sakes!' I really feel like we're at that time when we're really allowing those scenes."
In the Season Nine premiere, fans got merely a glimpse into Rick and Michonne's relationship as it will appear in the new episodes. Not only will the future episodes expand heavily on their time together as leaders (also, with the lights out) but it will explore Carol and Ezekiel's dynamic, Maggie and Daryl's alliance, and build new bonds which the show can rely on.
"The scene with Rick and Michonne in bed when they're talking, I love that f---ing scene," Nicotero said. "When I shot it, I put the cameras really far away, and I used the long lenses because I didn't want them to be in bed together, and there's a camera right there. So, I put the camera really, really far away, and I just let them talk and let them do their thing. [Andrew Lincoln] calls me every day we shoot an episode together. He'll call me in the car on the way home: 'It was a f---ing great day! This is gonna be the greatest episode ever! Oh my God, I love it!' He called me that night, and he went 'I love how you shot that scene.' He said, 'I love that you captured the intimacy, but you preserved the intimacy for the actors by putting the camera far away and letting us do what we're really good at.'"
The Walking Dead airs Sundays 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!