The Walking Dead will get lighter, funnier and more hopeful: “It’s a seismic shift”

As Alexandria recovers from that mid-season battle, there are new beginnings and light moments "that feel very unlike our world," according to director Greg Nicotero and star Andrew Lincoln

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The Walking Dead might be known for blood, gore and relentless hardship, but things are about to change over in Alexandria.

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As the second half of season six gets into gear, we can expect a big transition. The returning episode The Next World [ 9pm, FOX] sees a jump forward in time. And there’s a “kind of seismic shift” from here on out, teases star Andrew Lincoln.

“From last week’s episode onwards, the show has a different tone,” director Greg Nicotero tells us. “There’s a lightness in tonight’s episode. Light in a way that feels very unlike our world. There’s a confidence. We are moving forward.”

And, yes, the “shift” in tone will see The Walking Dead become funnier and more hopeful…

“We’ve never done before what we do tonight. Everyone, including the crew, were a bit like, ‘Is this the show? Are we doing this?’ But I think actually it needs it.”

It’s new ground, but it feels right, says Lincoln: “It’s an endurance test, being a fan of this show. You go through a lot. We go through a lot but you guys probably go through a lot more trauma than we do to experience it.”

“What are we fighting for if it’s not romance, hope, love, laughter? That’s sort of what this episode tonight is about. It’s the first time [Rick’s] felt hope since it began. It’s certainly a watershed moment in his leadership. He’s suddenly going, ‘I want you to see the new world.’ That’s how hopeful it is.”

It’s also about marking a new beginning. The morning after the battle for Alexandria is “year zero,” says Lincoln. “That’s the beginning. If they were writing history books they would begin there I think. That’s the first day of a real civilisation, of real potential.”

“We’ve spent the entire first half of the season showing the Alexandrians and Rick’s group and the fact that there’s a perception that they’re not aligned,” adds Nicotero. But now there is “one unit and that unit is now Alexandria… From this moment on they will be bound together in their dedication to survive and to move forward against whatever now future obstacles will appear.”

Because, of course, it still won’t be all sunshine and flowers from now on. This is still The Walking Dead, after all.

“In one direction we see certainly hope,” says Lincoln, “and in the other direction we see something very, very bad coming…”

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The Walking Dead season six continues tonight at 9:00pm on FOX