Note: contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season ten episode one
“Something of grave importance is about to happen,” Eugene says when he sees the satellite that opens ‘Lines We Cross’ (the season-10 premiere of The Walking Dead) crashing to the ground.
And he's not talking about the latest news of season ten's ratings (which are also crashing).
Going by the implications of that satellite, Eugene might be making a bit of an understatement, because that hunk of junk may have just changed The Walking Dead forever. Forget what Eugene wants to get from the heart of the satellite, the piece of machinery has more significance than immediate plot concerns.
That’s because it’s the first time The Walking Dead has confirmed that the zombie virus exists outside of the United States. We can see from the machine’s markings that it’s an old USSR Soviet satellite. That’s huge.
There’s no way the Russians would allow the satellite to crash-land onto US soil, because it could jumpstart the kind of nuclear war our Walking Dead pals are currently worrying about. That means Russia has other concerns that they’re distracted by right now, such as the collapse of their own civilisation.
Of course, metal suddenly falling from the sky doesn’t mean that the virus has only just kicked off in Russia. Satellites can orbit for decades without care and attention (and Russia has boasted about how hardy their tech is), but once they start to fail they’re generally safely guided and landed. That hasn’t happened here.
It’s actually a genius way of delivering such a massive reveal, without the aid of a news broadcast or newspaper (both methods of exposition are long gone in The Walking Dead world), and without suddenly cutting to people we don’t recognise screaming in heavy Russian accents.
But where did the idea come from? The satellite is important enough that showrunner Angela Kang has already talked about it.
"It actually, weirdly, started with conversations about ships and ghost ships, and like these ideas of things that are drifting around on the ocean," she explained. "We were trying to think of, 'What are things that happen over time in an apocalypse that we haven’t explored on the show yet?'
"And so somebody brought up this idea of like, 'Well satellites, like if they’re not maintained, they degrade and eventually fall out of orbit.' It even happens in our world now, but it’s not as common because they’re being maintained."
"Thematically, we wanted to kind of talk about a war that felt like it had Cold War aspects and the Whisperers like always watching our people, and so a satellite felt like a good metaphor for that," Kang said. "But we also just thought that that was a fun and, hopefully, a strange and exciting way to start the season and, you know, the satellite has other implications for the season going forward as well."
Yeah, we’d say so – that’s quite a lot of information for such a throwaway thing. To the extent that we actually think the satellite could have implications for Rick’s movie as well.
"The first film will explore the story of where Rick is taken and what he faces in a new corner of the zombie apocalypse," AMC said in a press release about the film.
"He's flying off in a helicopter, away from Virginia, and it's going to be a new world – a very new situation with its own history, and very, very different from what we've seen before.”
We’ve speculated before that this quote means that Rick will be travelling to another country, 'Lines We Cross' seems to confirm it, unless it’s a total coincidence that the show’s suddenly taking the virus worldwide.
And the show’s current cast are hinting that the world’s about to get bigger.
“I think it’s going to reinvent the way the show is seen and the themes that we’re tackling,” Ross Marquand (Aaron) said.
“The show is broader than it’s ever been in the past. I mean it was relegated to certain locations in seasons prior, and this year we’re just going all over the map."
“And it’s exciting as a fan and it’s exciting as an actor to work on that.”
We’ve followed this franchise for ten years in one location, imagine how long the brand could last if Kang and company confirm that the undead have covered the whole world.
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