'The Walking Dead' Producer Greg Nicotero: Season 5 Is All About 'Survival'

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

(Warning: Minor Season 5 spoilers and major TWD comic-book spoilers ahead.)

How many times have you watched the Walking Dead Season 5 trailer, the one released at Comic-Con last week? We're betting you’ve watched it, studied it, slowed it down, and hit rewind and fast-forward on it, all multiple times, in a quest to suss out every little single storyline and character reveal that the sneak peek at Season 5 offered.

Especially that blink-and-you-missed-it scene with fan favorite Glenn (Steven Yeun), tied to a chair, with the back of his noggin about to be struck by a guy we’ve never seen before, brandishing some stick-like weapon. TWD comic-book fans immediately wondered: Could that be the show's way of introducing one of the Walking Dead universe's baddest of all baddies? Is TV Glenn about to get clobbered by Negan, the barbed-wire-covered, baseball-bat-wielding villain who kills Glenn in the comic book?

What can you say about that trailer scene, TWD executive producer/director/special-effects makeup whiz Greg Nicotero?

"I can say I'm glad you caught that," Nicotero told Yahoo TV during a discussion about the upcoming TWD Season 4 DVD release. "And that your intuition... I can't say. I can't say. I can say that it's in the trailer for a reason."

Nicotero, who, along with the cast and crew, is currently in Georgia working on the eighth episode of Season 5 (i.e. the annual midseason finale), also shared a few other tidbits about the new season.

That Season 5 trailer you introduced at Comic-Con was very revealing. It hinted at a lot of storylines and a lot of new characters, and a big cliffhanger was answered: Beth's alive! Was there any concern about giving away too much?
Well, there is always that concern, because something that is tremendously important to us is allowing the audience to make those discoveries on their own. So we were very conscious that we didn't want to give too much away.

[Related: Highlights From the 'Walking Dead' Comic-Con Trailer]

The Beth bit was something that came up later in the process of doing the trailer, because we wanted to open up the world. The world of The Walking Dead is really important to us in terms of always keeping it fresh. And we see a bit of Terminus and we see a bit of the church, and as we were editing the trailer, we were like, "Wait, we have some great moments that we can tease: being in an urban environment and getting into opening up our world."

And kind of right at the last moment, I think [showrunner] Scott [M. Gimple] just said, "You know what? Emily [Kinney, who portrays Beth] is going to be at Comic-Con with us, and that's usually one of the first questions people ask: 'Where's Beth? Is she still alive? What happened to her?'" So we decided to end the trailer with that. We go to black and there's a little coda of "Oh wow, well, there she is,” and we're going to get a hint that she's going on a journey that, for the trailer, we don't even see any of our standard characters. We're introducing new characters.

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

You directed the Season 4 premiere, which started off at a slower pace, with the Woodbury residents and Rick and his crew living peacefully at the prison. You also directed the Season 5 premiere, which you described as being like a movie in scope. How does this season kick off?
If I said "movie," I probably meant "huge, gigantic movie that almost killed me." But it was a blast at the exact same moment. Yeah, I mean... we never really started [a season] with a direct cut [from the previous season]. Season 2 to Season 3, there was an eight-month jump, and Season 3 to Season 4, there was an eight-month jump. But since we ended the Season 4 finale on Rick's line — "They’re screwing with the wrong people" — we left on a cliffhanger, and we're going to pick up directly where we left off.

[Related: 'The Walking Dead' Season 5 Preview: 'It Starts Very, Very, Very, Very Intense']

Is there an overall theme to Season 5?
The theme to Season 4 was, "Can we come back from the things that we've done?" And that's where Rick starts at the beginning of Season 4, and he has that conversation with Clara, and he goes all the way through, and you find him embracing that brutality in order for him and Carl and Daryl and Michonne to survive. So definitely in Season 5, Rick will be questioning what it is that you have to do to protect the people that you love, what you're willing to do. And it's really about survival. I think that the one word that would describe Season 5 is "survival." What's exciting about moving into Season 5 is we continue the exploration into who these people are, and it's thrilling.

The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. on AMC.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season will be released on DVD, Blu-ray, and in a limited edition “Tree Hugger” Blu-ray set on Aug. 26 from Anchor Bay.