'The Walking Dead' Uses Black & White In The Season 6 Premiere To Effectively Separate 2 Important Timelines
It's not unlike The Walking Dead to make an artistic choice, and the series has departed from a traditional narrative structure before. However, making half of The Walking Dead Season 6 premiere black and white affected more than visual style. The full-color scenes depicted a battle against a herd of Walkers at some point in the near future, while the black and white scenes took place in Alexandria, during the days immediately following the Season 5 finale. It was definitely pretty to look at, but what exactly did this choice mean?
First of all, it's worth noting that The Walking Dead comics are published in black and white, so in a way, the show is getting back to its roots. From a philosophical standpoint, this also emphasizes the morals of our characters. We want to think that everything is black and white when it comes to good and evil, but a show like The Walking Dead makes it ever so apparent that in reality, we're all just different shades of grey.
After the episode on Talking Dead, director Greg Nicotero and showrunner Scott Gimple discussed some of the thought process behind this choice. Gimple explained that because the episode was "backloaded" with so much important information, he and the director discussed making that background black and white. Nicotero said that they also considered desaturating the color of one timeline while over-saturating the other, "but then it felt a little too cheery," and didn't fit the world of The Walking Dead. That's how they settled on black and white vs. color to help keep the two periods separate.
I think that choosing to make the two times so visually distinct suggests that we may be spending a little more time toggling between these two timelines. I'm not talking about an alternate universe situation — I mean flashbacks. We did not get a "six weeks earlier" title card or anything to indicate when exactly the attack on the herd was taking place and though the two timelines eventually converged at the end of the episode, I wouldn't be surprised if we go back to those black and white days throughout Season 6.
A lot of time seems to have been skipped, and there may have been many more important meetings and plans made in that black and white past. Given that the promotional art for Season 6 is all black and white portraits like the one of Glenn above, I think this narrative device is here to stay on The Walking Dead.
Image: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC