'Walking Dead's' Robert Kirkman: There's a Reason Why 'We Popped Back In' to Early Locations

Walking Dead Pilot - P 2014

Walking Dead Pilot - P 2014

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode 506, "Consumed," of AMC's The Walking Dead.]

AMC's The Walking Dead filled in Carol's backstory Sunday, going back to the scene when she split with Rick and was banished from the group for killing Karen in a bid to protect the group from the deadly flu in season four. Carol's (Melissa McBride) harrowing journey to the present day also included several familiar locations and nods to season one of Robert Kirkman's zombie drama.

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Eagle-eyed viewers recognized the central hub of Atlanta featured in season one, when Rick (Andrew Lincoln) memorably rides horseback through the abandoned streets (pictured at left). Only now, viewers get to see just how far civilization has fallen since the beleaguered sheriff first hit the road in search of his family. Other locations featured during Sunday's hour included the tank in which Rick hid from a massive walker attack; the rooftop where Merle was handcuffed and seemingly left to die; the freeway from season one's key art; and the gate where Rick cut his way through. (Other mentions included Carol's abusive marriage to Ed and her return to the shelter she and late daughter Sophia once sought refuge in.)

"There are a lot of reasons why we decided to go back into Atlanta. I can't get into a lot of them, but they'll become clear as the season progresses," Kirkman tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It was a good time to pop back in and reaffirm our place in a recognizable world and explore a bit more of how civilization has fallen. As the season progresses, you'll see why we popped back in when we did and for how long we did."

The major metropolitan location also provided a respite from the show's more frequent rural locations and got production largely out of the woods and small department stores that have become a staple of the zombie drama.

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"It was great to get a glimpse of a pretty recognizable city and how things are now," Kirkman says. "I also really love this episode because in a lot of ways it harkens back to Day of the Dead and some great classic zombie films that portray desolate cities really well — including our first season. It was a great classic zombie movie kind of episode that I thought was really awesome."

Meanwhile, only two episodes of The Walking Dead remain before season five hits pause for the holidays as the zombie drama prepares for a new human vs. human confrontation.  With Carol struck by a car and taken to Grady Memorial, Daryl (Norman Reedus) finds a friend in brief foe Noah (Tyler James Williams). Noah, the guy Beth (Emily Kinney) helped escape from the hospital, is likely with Daryl when he returns to Rick and the church group with inside knowledge of Dawn (Christine Woods) and Grady Memorial's inner workings. Elsewhere, Abraham's team — including Beth's older sister, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) — could also be returning to the church, giving Rick's group renewed strength in numbers to take on Dawn and company.  

"This confrontation is definitely going to be substantially different from the confrontation with The Governor (David Morrissey) or Gareth (Andrew J. West)," Kirkman says. "We do continue to evolve these human-to-human conflicts in very interesting ways, and this is no different. There are going to be some pretty unexpected events in our midseason finale, which is as it should be. On a scale of one to 10, I'd say [the midseason finale is] pretty deadly."

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit