As Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) forces prepare for "All Out War" beginning Sunday night with The Walking Dead's eighth season premiere and 100th episode, it wouldn't hurt either side to listen to the cautionary words of wisdom from an old soul who's been there from the beginning: executive producer Greg Nicotero.
Variety caught up with Nicotero, who had these two sage pieces of advice for whoever walks away the victor:
● Everyone keeps wondering if it will be Rick or Negan who's left standing when the dust settles, but Nicotero believes there's one side everyone keeps taking for granted:
"One of the things that people so often talk about is the fact that it's not a show about zombies, it's a show about people. It's about the people that are occupying this dead world. And one of the things that is important for us in this episode and even parts of this season is to really highlight the idea that you're always going to get a sense that there are walkers on the periphery. They're just waiting for these groups of idiots to kill each other off so they can finish taking over the rest of the world. The zombies are like, 'Oh, you're going to let us not do the work and you're going to do the work for us? Great. We'll just wait until you're done and we'll take over.' It's sort of reminding the audience that this is the world."
● Though it was tough for our heroes to do during the seventh season, Nicotero would remind them of the importance of thinking beyond just the day-to-day:
"It's not about surviving day-to-day. It's about how is society going to persevere next week or next month or next year. We started getting into that last year with Rick and Michonne, like, 'It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about how we're going to go on.' The last speech in the finale was Maggie talking about Glenn and holding Hershel's watch, which is a little bit of precursor to what we're doing this season, which is to remind people who Hershel was and who Glenn was and hearing Maggie talking about society and going forward. There's a specific moment in this episode where a character says, 'Is hope enough to get us through to the next level?'"
The Walking Dead premieres its eight season and 100th episode on AMC on Sunday, October 22nd at 9 p.m. EST, with a two-hour live Talking Dead hosted by Chris Hardwick immediately following the episode.
Here is AMC's official synopsis for The Walking Dead Season 8, as well as for the season's first three episodes:
"Last year, Rick Grimes and his group of survivors were confronted with their deadliest challenge yet. With the comfort of Alexandria, they let their guard down, only to be reminded how brutal the world they live in can be. The introduction of Negan and the Saviors broke our group.
Feeling powerless under Negan's rules and demands, Rick advocated the group play along. But seeing that Negan couldn't be reasoned with, Rick began rallying together other communities affected by the Saviors. And with the support of the Hilltop and Kingdom, they finally have enough fire power to contest the Saviors.
This year, Rick brings 'All Out War' to Negan and his forces. The Saviors are larger, better-equipped, and ruthless — but Rick and the unified communities are fighting for the promise of a brighter future. The battle lines are drawn as they launch into a kinetic, action-packed offensive.
Up until now, survival has been the focus of Rick and our group, but it's not enough. They have to fight to take back their freedom so that they can live. So that they can rebuild. As with any battle, there will be losses. Casualties. But with Rick leading the Alexandrian forces, Maggie leading the Hilltop, and King Ezekiel leading the Kingdom — Negan and the Saviors' grip on this world may finally be coming to an end."
The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan), Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon), Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene), Danai Gurira (Michonne), Melissa McBride (Carol Peletier), Lennie James (Morgan Jones), Seth Gilliam (Father Gabriel Stokes), Alanna Masterson (Tara Chambler), Khary Payton (King Ezekiel), and Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes); with Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero, David Alpert, showrunner Scott M. Gimple and franchise creator Robert Kirkman serving as executive producers.