The Walking Dead returned with a midseason premiere this week that is receiving fairly positive reviews from both critics and audiences. Rick’s optimistic approach has not only put a smile on his face, but the episode itself has the best Rotten Tomatoes score of any other episode this season besides the second episode, “The Well,” which introduced The Kingdom (and this season’s new fan favorite, Jerry!) The midseason premiere featured more zombie kills, more Ezekiel, a reunion for Morgan, and a refreshing break from Negan.
Things seem to be clicking again for the series after a bleak first half, so much so that Greg Nicotero — special effects coordinator, exec producer, and director of the episode — found some space to allow his children to appear in “The Rock in the Road,” a much better episode to introduce one’s kids than, say, one of the last episodes Nicotero directed, where Negan bashed in Glenn’s cranium.
My son and my daughter are inhabitants of the Kingdom for that episode … They had a blast. They’ve been on set since Season 1. I have a picture of my daughter standing next to the horse that gets torn apart and my son sitting on the tank that Rick crawls under. For them, they’ve been here since day one. I looked at the schedule and said, “Hey, you know, there’s a scene that you guys could potentially be a part of and you don’t have to be zombies,” because they were like, “Oh, we don’t want to wear the contact lenses.” They had a good time, and they love the show.
For those curious, Nicotero’s daughter, Alyssa, appears on the left here, offering advice to the archer with one leg.