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Greg Nicotero promises 'The Walking Dead' series finale will harken back to show's early days

Does this mean Rick's coming back?!

By Josh Weiss
The Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 5

If you're a longtime Walking Dead fan who feels like the show's quality has dipped in recent years, you may want to consider checking out the series finale on Sunday, Nov. 20.

During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer and makeup effects wizard Greg Nicotero compared the final episode — which he also directed — to that of the first three seasons, all of which are considered to be some of the best prestige television ever made. Does this mean Rick and Michonne are coming back?!

"We really wanted to make sure that the walker threat was real, that the stakes were high, and that they needed to do what they could do to save their community," he teased. "There's a lot of emotion, there's some fantastic moments, there's some fun action scenes. And we even kind of upped the gore a little bit more than we usually do, which I know a lot of people like. So I do think that it feels like a bit of a throwback episode because it's propulsive and it's nonstop and it really just keeps going. And then, all of a sudden, you get to this moment where you are forced to feel something, and I'm pretty proud of it."

RELATED: 'The Walking Dead' stars pitch their spin-off ideas (assuming they survive)

If you're already caught up with the eleventh season thus far, then you know that an epic battle with the Commonwealth and its leader, Governor Pamela Milton (Laila Robbins), is on the horizon. Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and the rest of our protagonists reclaimed Alexandria, but they won't be completely safe until they cut the head off the proverbial snake.

Fortunately, the survivors now have Mercer (Michael James Shaw) on their side, with the imposing warrior ready to, in his own words, "f*** sh** up." Reedus joked that "everybody dies," but there's probably some truth to the statement. To build genuine stakes, not everyone can make it out of alive.

"In typical Walking Dead fashion, there are going to be tears," added showrunner and executive producer, Angela Kang. "But I think also, in typical Walking Dead fashion, there is also warmth, if that makes sense. Because I think that this show is so much about family and found family. And that's kind of what we want to leave people with."

Scott M. Gimple, the usually tight-lipped brand manager of the entire Walking Dead brand, promised "a lot of shock" and "a lot of tension" in the last episode. Like Nicotero, he drew a comparison to one of the earlier seasons.

"I think they might feel angry on behalf of our characters," Gimple said. "It's a frigging intense finale. It just goes, goes, goes. You could compare some aspects of it to, I believe, the second episode of Season 6 with the Wolves. Ot has a certain intensity that just goes, goes, goes. And then there are these moments of pain, but there are moments of beauty and recognition of the journey and of love."

New episodes of The Walking Dead — only two more installments remain!! — premiere on AMC every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. AMC+ subscribers can access them a week early.

If you're looking to satisfy your zombie craving immediately, head over to Peacock and check out the movie that kickstarted the entire genre: George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Or check out the SYFY original series, Day of the Dead.