‘Walking Dead’ Showrunner Teases Season 8: ‘Beginning of Civilization Is at Stake’

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The
Gene Page/AMC

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched the Season 7 finale of “The Walking Dead,” titled “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.”

The Season 7 finale of “The Walking Dead” officially kicked off the war between Rick’s coalition and Negan’s Saviors. While this is not the first time we have seen Rick and his group go into battle, series showrunner Scott Gimple says that the stakes this time around are much higher for our protagonists.

“It’s essentially for the whole world as far as their experience,” Gimple told Variety. “It isn’t just their little corner. It’s the Kingdom and the Hilltop too. The Governor just wanted them dead. Negan would be happy if everyone was alive and well and working for him. There’s a very basic political idea at play here. They want to live in a fair world instead of having it just be Negan’s. To that end, that idea feels to me like the beginning of civilization is at stake, this new civilization they want to build rather than live this strange half-life serving a despot.”

During the episode, we see that Sasha, played by Sonequa Martin-Green, has taken the suicide pill that Eugene gave her. She emerges from a coffin Negan wanted to use for dramatic effect as a walker, attacking Negan and fatally wounding one of his henchmen.

“I had been talking about that with Sonequa from the beginning of the season,” Gimple said. “As things were coming into place we saw that Sasha would do anything to make sure Maggie is safe and Sasha wanted to make sure she took care of this to make sure Maggie wouldn’t have to do it. Sasha’s sacrifice is the momentum with which the characters go into Season 8. It’s tragic but much less traumatic than the first episode because this was a character going out on her own terms.”

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This episode also saw Eugene formalize his commitment to Negan, going ahead of the Savior convoy to Alexandria to implore Rick to lay down his weapons and submit to Negan’s rule once and for all. But before Sasha was put into the coffin, we see her speaking with Eugene, telling him that she still has hope that he will do the right thing.

“He said he’s Negan in front of everybody,” Gimple said. “He has still not found the strength to get over his fear. He’s still Negan after seeing everything Sasha is doing. I don’t think it looks good for Eugene. But with everything Sasha said to him, maybe his courage is just lying dormant.”

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  1. Luna Cascade says:

    A good story can’t be built without a good foundation….. just sayin.

  2. will says:

    I don’t know what ruined the show for me: the killing of longtime fave Glenn or the hammy silliness of all the new characters (Negan, Ezekiel and his pet tiger and the martian Heapsters all just seem like bad tropes from a lesser show, not like they belong on the same show that gave us Rick, Shane and Michonne) – or maybe it was just the sheer tediousness of waiting months for anything to actually happen. Oh wait, it was all those things.

  3. What an incredibly disappointing season, and completely empty finale. The show has officially “jumped the tiger”.

    There were so many problems with this season, I don’t know where to begin. Killing off of 2 fan favorites, completely fracturing the core group, showing a different location each episode and going nowhere. Introducing a group of, essentially, alines with absolutely no back story who “surprisingly” betray Rick’s group.

    Its been, what, 2-3 years inside the show since the downfall of civilization. Why is there a group of “garbage pail kids” that are basically something out of Mad Max? They don’t even speak “human”!

    I’ve completely lost all emotional attachment to anyone in the show. They even destroyed another favorite character of mine, Carol. A once super-bad-ass favorite, to a self-centered in self-pity, now getting her groove back.

    I may watch season 8 for complete lack of anything else to watch, but at this point I could take it or leave it. Sad really, it was my favorite show until this season.

  4. LJ says:

    Between the cartoonish Negan character and the glacier pace of the story, season 7 was torture for devoted longtime fans like myself. I just cannot see myself hanging in there for another year of preening Negan speeches and months of episodes that do nothing at all to advance the plot while featuring only one or two of the characters that we care about each week

    It is unbelievable that they spent 15-and-a-half of the season’s 16 episodes having boring, meandering conversations about fighting Negan and didn’t bother to get around to actually doing it until the last 25 minutes of the season. Everything that actually mattered in the entire season could have fit into a single episode, and the rest was just filler. None of the extended episodes were necessary and it was obvious to everyone that they only extended them to sell more ad spots and not because the story required it.

    This show has an excellent cast led by the superbly talented Andrew Lincoln, but it’s clear that Gimple and co. don’t trust their actors to actually tell the story or the audience to understand it. We understood how terrifying Negan was to the group in the first episode of the season, when Rick was on his knees begging not to be forced to cut his son’s arm off. But then the writers felt they had to keep beating us over the head with his sadism for episode after episode so we’d really get it, and instead that just made it lose its impact.

    Gimple and Nicotero seem to be so busy congratulating themselves on their cleverness that they have completely lost touch with what TWD viewers want and how to make a story interesting. Even in the finale, they couldn’t stop overusing the same boring devices: having Sasha flash back to her last conversation with Abraham would have been interesting if they had done it once, but they just kept going back to it over and over throughout the episode, dragging the conversation out far longer than it needed to be and adding nothing new each time. As a result, it completely lost its impact. And Maggie’s long, slow, dull voiceover at the end was so absurdly self-congratulatory that it literally made me cringe; it didn’t tell us a single thing that we didn’t already know or advance the story in any way – instead, it just put a boring cap on a boring season.

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