Post Mortems
The Walking Dead Premiere

Walking Dead EP Reveals Why [Spoiler] Had to Die — Plus: Are the B&W Flashbacks Here to Stay?

Turns out one of the biggest twists in The Walking Dead‘s super-sized Season 6 premiere on Sunday was a technical one: The episode’s flashback sequences were… colorless. Sure, a bunch of other big stuff happened — namely, Ethan Embry’s rabble-rouser Carter died a surprisingly premature death (sorta) at the hands of Rick — but it was the show’s black-and-white detour that had us most intrigued.

Below, showrunner Scott M. Gimple explains his thinking behind the hue-mungous storytelling tweak, and also weighs in on Carter’s relatively early demise and the subsequent shade Morgan and Michonne threw at Rick.

TVLINE | Will all the show’s flashbacks now be in black and white? 
It’s something we absolutely might do again. Black and white has such a relationship to The Walking Dead [ vis-à-vis] the comics. But this was a special thing for the premiere.

TVLINE | Why this particular episode?
From an aesthetic standpoint, it was always something I was very interested in doing. From a narrative standpoint, it really worked with this episode, because it has a very intricate structure to it. I wanted the audience to not have to sit there and do math as they watched the show. I wanted it to be effortless for them. It just so happened that it also really complimented the narrative. And it drew some thematic contrast to what was going on. The world of the black and white story does tell a specific story unto itself that compliments the color story.

TVLINE | I was surprised Ethan Embry’s Carter was killed off so quickly. It seemed like you were setting him up to be a long-term adversary to Rick.
That was [kind of] the point. Hopefully, it was nice to feel potential extinguished. We don’t want death to feel just like something to tick off on a box, so, that way when he’s killed the audience feels some sort of loss, even if it’s just story loss. We [also] want the impact felt of what Rick is doing and what Morgan feels for what Rick did.

TVLINE | Morgan and Michonne were clearly judging Rick for killing Carter… 
Morgan maybe more than Michonne…

TVLINE | But what choice did he have?
I should’ve jumped in on your word “judge,” because there wasn’t an alternative. And it wasn’t that they were like, “Oh, I can’t believe you killed him.” The dark black and white moment that precedes [Carter’s death], where Morgan’s like, “I know you. I knew you wouldn’t have killed Carter in the Armory.” And Rick, in a performance that I really love from [Andrew Lincoln], sadly but certainly says, “I didn’t have to kill him. That kind of guy is going to die on his own anyway.” And then we cut to [the death scene]. And it isn’t like, “Oh my God you killed him!” It’s like, “Oh, you’re maybe not the guy I knew, because that philoshopy that you put out there… it’s true.” [It’s] a very sad moment, because they’re both recognizing that their individual truths are completely legitimate to each other, yet they are diametrically opposed. It isn’t that he killed Carter, it’s rather that he predicted that Carter would die one way or the other. And that [prediction turned out to be] true. And that’s the world they are living in. And they want to see the world as very different places. It isn’t a question of judging. It’s a question of recognizing that their worlds are very different and their perspectives are very different. And there’s something really sad about that, after finding each other after all this time. They’re not on the same page.

TVLINE | The scope of this premiere felt significantly larger than any previous Walking Dead episode. Was that a case of, “We need to raise our game in Season 6?”
Really, this season is about these characters, Rick’s group, who have been formed by their environment, and how they are able to do things that a lot of other characters that are around cannot do. We really wanted to see these characters doing remarkable things within this world, and that they have — this is very Stan Lee — this incredible power, which is survival in this world. And what are they going to do with it? With great power comes great responsibility. What is their responsibility here? Telling a story of them doing this unthinkable thing [from the POV] of a lot of Alexandrians was a way to kick that off. Then, on top of that, yeah, [we’re] ambitious with our scope and our creativity… The crew hit the ground running. There was no warmup. The crew delivered astounding stuff — feature film-level stuff on a television schedule. And the scope and the intensity is not over. It keeps going. It’s like the national debt. We are going bigger every year.

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  1. Jason. P says:

    it was a good episode but in some ways I feel like TWD feels redundant. storylines all basically boil down to the same thing.

    • m3rcnate says:

      When it comes down to it that applies to basically every show. I get what you are saying, TWD is about survival and two threats (dead and alive) so it really boils down to the basics. The group is either on the run/searching for a place to live, or they have settled in a place to live and are ready to defend it. There is no real third option. Either humans are threatening them or walkers are. There isn’t really a third threat.
      So with that, along with a constant core group, not much changes. But this show is a journey, the only thing I somewhat fear is the open ended aspect of this show. On one hand it could go 20 seasons and keep surviving with different casts (like Doctor Who). On the other hand that is fairly dumb and most likely won’t work well.
      It would feel great if they came out and said they have a 5 season plan and at the end of the fifth season they will end the show and wrap up TWD story, give us closure.
      Problem is the show most likely prints money with its viewer numbers, with an especially high young viewership. Hell even The Talking Dead has fantastic ratings with 5-7.5 million viewers.
      “Talking Dead’s” 3.5 rating in the key demo was enough to edge Tuesday’s rating for “The Flash” and “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” combined.”
      And don’t forget how insanely cheap Talking Dead is to make (a simple set, simple camera work, it’s a talk show). So they are raking in the cash with a show that they can run into the ground until no one watches. Bummer, but if you want high quality Walking Dead content with creative integrity i recommend the graphic novel series.

      • Justin Mugge says:

        Read Kirkman’s whole goal of the TWD comics. He intended to be an open ended story, unlike unrealistic movies that show a zombie apocalypse and within 90 minutes the zombie threat is taken care of or if you’re a zombie, the human threat is taken care of. He wanted to show / tell a story about rebuilding mankind, society, et. al. You won’t like the comics either. You’ll never get your closure.

  2. Lauren says:

    I think Ethan Embry is such an underrated actor. I was looking forward to seeing more of him. Oh well.

    • rarefied says:

      If you have Netflix, he’s also on Grace and Frankie, though his character is a bit creepy there (in the way that you sense the writers and showrunners might not know that he’s coming across as creepy).

    • eric says:

      He’s ok. Nice to see he has toned down his wide-eyed wonder look he always seems to have.

  3. The Best show on Television that the people who vote for the EMMYS always forget exists when it’s time nominate the best drama on television. I’m very happy that Game of Thrones finally won last year. Now let’s see TWD get nominated and win in 2016.

  4. Dora says:

    The color vs black/white was very gimmicky and it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before. It was uneven and unneeded for the story to be told in a now and then method. Seen it all done before. Get over yourselves “creative minds”.

  5. James D says:

    Gosh I really hope Ethan Embry gets his own show soon, he is such a versatile actor and is under utilized i feel. with that said the writing was on the wall for Carter but i enjoyed how Gimple and Co used it as a thematic driving point setting up Morgans Philosophy vs Rick’s. really looking forward to this season.

  6. Relaxx says:

    I’m just here for the recap because I didn’t watch!

  7. Whatevah says:

    This was a great episode! But I still feel like there is a “death of the week” thing going on.

  8. Joey Padron says:

    Season premiere was so good. Can’t wait for next episode!

  9. AnnieM says:

    One thing I don’t get – and forgive me if it has ever been addressed – but since the walkers are shown to progressively decay, shouldn’t we be at a point by now where many of them fall apart, or at least have a limb or two fall off?

    • ? says:

      Newsflash: zombies are impossible. Heh. But really: yes, you’re right, but also no, because zombies can’t exist anyway, so the fact that they aren’t falling completely apart by now makes no more or less sense than them even being in the world of the show in the first place. I’d try not to worry about such things–just accept that the rules of the world of this show is that they’re there and they aren’t going away, ever, and sit back and see what that means for our characters.

    • eric says:

      Well don’t forget there are still new zombies out there because people are still dying and turning into them. But yeah, I thought the scene of the zombie’s skin peeling off as he tried to squeeze through the two semi trucks and also when the zombie walks into the wall a little too hard and hits his head and it just basically explodes was a good way to show how fragile the older zombies are. Since it is fiction, you could just argue they reach a point where they don’t decay any further.

  10. Bark Star says:

    Next time you do B&W, actually SHOOT it in B&W and dont take out the color in post. It looked horrible.

  11. eric says:

    The episode was ok… next week looks much better. I always love a good Carl holding down the fort episode. Plus… Carol. :)
    I will say the cliffhanger ending was fun.
    As a side note, Abraham, his girlfriend and the mullet have run their course. There’s a little room to develop the girlfriend into something more than that, and it would be interesting to develop the mullet into more of a tough guy, but there’s not much use for Abraham anymore in the story.

  12. Kate says:

    I would love the whole series in black and white! I loved the premiere.

  13. IMHO says:

    I did like the flashbacks in B&W for the reason Showrunner Gimple suggests ” effortless viewing.”
    Great episode , Carol is amazing and she’s gettin a little scary.

  14. Win says:

    I didn’t feel Carter’s death was unexpected. After season 4 opened at the expanded prison community, I pretty much expect any actor I enjoyed in previous shows/movies showing up in the first episode has the life expectancy of an unnamed crew member on Star Trek. With Ethan Embry’s Carter and other Alexandrians, it’s like Gimple can’t hardly wait to address the issues of sheltered vs. seasoned. But I hope the same epiphanies from the comic (Boo! Hiss! Someone mentioned the comics!) develop organically in the show.

  15. abz says:

    Disappointing premiere for me. I was so bored. Didn’t really like the use of the black and white. I hope this episode isn’t an indication of what the season will be like.

  16. Tamara Reyna says:

    TWD Is The Best Show on TV. THERE ARE so many layers to it