After The Walking Dead season premiere, producer Greg Nicotero talks about the condition of our heroes.

It may have been horrifying to watch, but the deaths of Abraham and Glenn had a purpose. For Negan, it was to break the will of Rick Grimes and his group. For Walking Dead viewers, it was to shock us into realizing how the world has changed.

Now that the damage is done, how will Rick and the group move on? The Walking Dead is an ensemble show, but it has always centered on Rick. What’s the next step in his character’s evolution?

A New Rick Grimes

“He’s destroyed. The entire point of the episode was to see the most uncomfortable thing you could ever see, which is our hero reduced to utter subservience and knowing that that’s the guy,” says director/executive producer Greg Nicotero. 

Image Credit: AMCImage Credit: AMC

“Rick is the one who says, ‘They don’t know who they’re f—ing with,’ or ‘I’m going to kill you.’

“Rick has always been the first one to stand up and say, ‘I’m going to win,’ and that is beaten out of him by the death of two of his friends and the idea that he imagined every single person in that line-up being killed and Negan has guns behind each of their heads and says, ‘Okay, if you don’t do this they’re all going to die.’

“It just broke him, and knowing that Rick is completely and utterly devastated and utterly lost moving forward to me is the most interesting part of where the series is going. We expect certain things from our heroes.

“We’re not accustomed to seeing our heroes completely under someone’s boot, so aside from how Rick is going to handle that, you know we are sort of spreading our world, spreading our wings a bit in terms of the Kingdom and the Sanctuary and Alexandria, so we have some exciting twists and turns coming in the next couple of episodes.”

Of course, not everyone in Alexandria was present for Negan’s display. Rick may be a broken man, but how does he convey that to his people? “I would think it’s safe to say that not everybody is on board with Rick’s subservience,” says Nicotero.

Daryl’s Downfall

Rick’s not the only one in a bad place right now. Daryl is racked with guilt over Glenn’s death. “Yeah, I don’t think there’s any way around that. There’s that shot in the episode of Daryl looking at him in utter and complete shock and anguish on his face, and we know who Daryl is,” says Nicotero.”Daryl is the guy that would take a bullet for anybody. The reason he leaped out of that line was because Negan was bullying Rosita. The way he was standing in front of her screaming at her and shoving that bloody baseball bat in her face, he wasn’t going to take it. He wasn’t going to let Negan get away with it in front of anybody. I think he probably would have rather been the victim himself than have seen anyone else go.”

As for how Daryl is processing his guilt, Nicotero says, “He’s in bad shape. He’s in really bad shape.”

The Vengeance of Maggie

The one person who remained defiant against Negan was Maggie. Even after witnessing her husband’s death, she didn’t break. In fact, she seems to have become even stronger. “I don’t know if it’s the final step, but she just watched her husband murdered in front of her,” says Nicotero. “That’s clearly going to have a different effect on her than on anybody else in that regard. I think Maggie is falling into that, ‘Well, of course, I’m going to fight. That’s what we do. We always fight. You got to go back to Alexandria, and you got to get ready because we’re going to fight,’ and she’s just unaffected by what Negan did to Rick, but Rick is affected. That was directed at him.”