The Walking Dead launched its tenth season on Sunday night with an interesting opening shot like nothing done before in the decade-long series. The zombie apocalypse was put into perspective when Episode 10x01 opened with a shot from outer space. As the camera panned across the earth, a USSR satellite came crashing into the frame and zipped across the screen. This satellite would go on to play a key role in the episode -- and will continue to be a factor as the show goes on.
As showrunner Angela Kang continues to do things with the series which have never been done before through more than 120 episodes, she elected to throw a puzzle piece into the mix which had not yet been featured: space. It wasn't always the plan but it formed while developing the tenth season.
"It actually, weirdly, started with conversations about ships and ghost ships, and like these ideas of things that are drifting around on the ocean," Kang said. "We were trying to think of, 'What are things that happen over time in an apocalypse that we haven't explored on the show yet?' And so somebody brought up this idea of like, 'Well satellites, like if they're not maintained, they degrade and eventually fall out of orbit.' It even happens in our world now, but it's not as common because they're being maintained. 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. 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."
This satellite will be a major player in the story throughout Season 10, especially as it pertains to Eugene Porter's efforts to obtain some of the technology found inside of it.
For fans of the always expanding Dead universe, this might have been a moment reminiscent of one from Fear the Walking Dead's third season. In an episode of the spinoff series, Colman Domingo's Victor Strand had a conversation with a Russian cosmonaut who was trapped in orbit as the world fell to the zombie apocalypse. It doesn't not seem there is any link between that moment and the satellite seen in The Walking Dead's Season 10 premiere.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC.