The Walking Dead director on Melissa McBride & the legacy of "look at the flowers" (Exclusive)
The Walking Dead is not merely a television show, but an institution with over 11 seasons and multiple spinoffs. Certain episodes from the show very much continue to be the talk of social media to this day. One such episode is The Grove (namely The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 14).
An episode centered on Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) and Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) as well as on-screen sisters Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy), The Grove is considered one of the more haunting tales in The Walking Dead. The phrase "look at the flowers" from the episode has become pop-culture legend.
For the uninitiated, Carol says the phrase before shooting young Lizzie who had stabbed her sister earlier in the episode. It was a depiction of the depths one had to sink to in an inhumane world.
Director Michael E. Satrazemis spoke at length about directing this landmark episode, as well as his enduring friendship with The Walking Dead mainstay Melissa McBride in an exclusive interview with SK POP. To this interviewer's delight, every detail seemed to be imprinted in his memory!
The first episode of The Walking Dead that Michael E. Satrazemis directed was The Grove
Satrazemis had no idea that "look at the flowers" would become as legendary as it eventually did:
"No, I had no idea. I mean when I was directing The Grove, I knew I had a really amazing story but I was focused on trying to make this my career. Everyone was like – 'Wow, you’re getting an episode. You’re going to be a director'. And you’re like no, the truth is you’re not a director until you’ve directed ten of them."
The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead director informed SK POP that "look at the flowers" was even something people would say on set when things got tense:
"But we were using it as a way to de-escalate from anger on set a lot. So, ‘look at the flowers’ was like hey dude, I want you to go away from me and go look at the flowers. We didn’t have to use curse words for a long time because (laughs) it worked in a great way. I mean I had no idea. You feel really good about it because Melissa and I have been friends forever. I’m her greatest fan."
To gear up for a heavy episode with two young girls, Satrazemis had to prep in the correct manner with the cast. Luckily, The Walking Dead director soon learned that he was working with the right people:
"To have kind of a Carol-centric episode with Tyreese, with Chad, and then to have Brighton and Kyla who are just the two most brilliant beautiful girls, and so far ahead. I mean when we prepped, I started talking to them about their deaths. Because I wanted to really protect it."
The two sisters understood their part in the episode and the larger arc to advance the story:
"And you could realize that they understood that they represented humanity, that they were part of the evolution of the other characters, we talked about it. So, I knew we had the right people at the table. I knew that we had a chance to get lucky."
What does Michael E. Satrazemis think of Melissa McBride showing up on The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon?
Satrazemis, who was busy with other projects within The Walking Dead universe when the French spinoff was being filmed regrets missing out on working with Melissa McBride:
"As a fan, I want to see as much Carol as possible. As a friend, I love Melissa. I’m just sad I was doing all the other shows and haven’t gone over there. I want to work with her in the apocalypse every second that she works. And I would also love to start a show outside of the apocalypse and work with her. I mean Melissa, she’s one of the greatest actors that I’ve ever worked with. And there’s nothing she can’t do."
He couldn't stop gushing about his friend, who will be an integral part of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon in season 2, during the interview:
"I mean if you look at Carol and the evolution of that character, she was an abused person to a complete action star. I mean there’s no part of any range that she hasn’t been able to tackle and accomplish and you know thrive in. So, I love Melissa McBride. (Laughs)"
The Walking Dead director concluded the interview by admitting that The Grove was the foundation for pretty much everything that happened to him in his career from thereon in. And yes, he still asks people to look at the flowers "once in a while."