If you watched the season 5 premiere of AMC’s mega hit The Walking Dead, you probably noticed a heavy emphasis on the action. It’s not necessarily one long action scene, but it’s definitely approaching that territory. This is easily the biggest, most ambitious, sprawling sequence that they’ve ever attempted, including the scenes at Woodbury in season 3 and the battle at the prison in season 4. Now you can see how they how they went about setting it up.
Special effects guru Greg Nicotero, who also happened to helm the season debut, “No Sanctuary,” shared his extensive set of storyboards with Entertainment Weekly. The scene may look chaotic and jumbled on screen, but these pieces give you an idea of just how much planning and work went into crafting this episode. You can’t just step outside with a camera and some zombie extras and wing something like this, you have to do a lot of preparation to stage this big and intricate a scene.
There will probably be some SPOILERS if you haven’t watched “No Escape” yet. Just wanted to give you a heads up.
This first panel gives you a wide view of Terminus, where Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus), and most of the other survivors are being held captive and about to be turned into cold cuts. You see the compound, the tanker that Carol (Melissa McBride, who has become the most unapologetic badass character of the series—I’m interested to see how she develops when she finally has a quiet moment to reconcile the things she’s done and the person she’s become with who she was. I feel like they’re going to wind up having to kill her off because she’s become too cold and practical and can’t relate to anyone anymore.) blows up.
From there, the storyboards focus in on, for lack of a better term, the ground-level action. This is the characters, both good and bad, running, shooting, escaping, and dealing with the swarm of walkers that pours in through the gaping hole in the fence, attracted by noise and food. It also involves Carol, soaked in zombie guts, roaming around, looking for her friends, being hard as all hell. Seriously, she shoots a lady and the lets in a bunch of walker to chow down on her.
If nothing else, this is an interesting look at just how shows and movies go about constructing a large-scale action scene. When we see them on screen, it’s easy to take them for granted, and you forget just how much work and attention to detail goes into a successful one. How often have we seen janky-ass sequences where there’s a flaw in the continuity that, even if it doesn’t ruin things for you, sticks in the back of your mind like a popcorn kernel stuck in your mouth?