Season 8 of “The Walking Dead” is nearly upon us, and with it, some major changes that will make haters of Season 7 happy again. Last season brought quite the firestorm of hate for several episodes along with some declining ratings.
Showrunner Scott Gimple put it pretty simply about what will be different in Season 8.
“Because of the narrative that we’re following … the story this season is really spread out among all of the characters. And the story shifts quite a bit in single episodes between lots of different characters on a consistent basis, which is a little more unusual for the show.”
Put simply; praise be that the cast won’t be separated again with fewer episodes solely based on individual characters like we saw in Season 7. It got to be a pain in the ass trying to keep up with the timeline as each episode felt like it was moving things forward only to find out in the next week that it hadn’t.
With the upcoming war with Negan, it only makes sense to keep the cast together, but the show has always worked best when our band of travelers kept in that pack mentality.
One thing you can say about the “Walking Dead” producers is they do listen to the fans, and many of the most hated episodes of the series came from last season. I personally took a break after the first half of Season 7 and let them pile up oh the DVR. The second half definitely was an improvement, but after such a frustrating first half, it was easy to see why ratings took a tumble.
One thing to expect in Season 9 is that “The Walking Dead” may skip those growing up years for Judith and jump ahead five years which would get Maggie through all those baby teething years if they allow both of them to survive. Gimple has already promised more major deaths in Season 8 so we know to get ready to say goodbye to some favorites during the Negan war.
Some hints may come from the upcoming episode titles and breakdown.
Episode 1 is titled Mercy.
Rick and his group, along with the Kingdom and Hilltop, have banded together to bring the fight to Negan and the Saviors.
Episode 2 is ominously called ‘The Damned.’
“The plan involving Alexandrians, Kingdommers and Hilltoppers unfolds,” the description reads. “As Rick continues to fight, he encounters a familiar face.”
Who is the familiar face? Eugene, perhaps?
Episode 3 is titled ‘Monsters,’ and it looks like this one will explore again different characters’ moralities and what is right and wrong.
“Conflict with the Saviors leads to unintended consequences for the Hilltop, the Kingdom, and Alexandria,” says the synopsis. “Morality proves tricky in wartime.”
We already know that the season premiere (which will be an extended episode and is directed by Greg Nicotero) has the title ‘Mercy.’
10 fun facts for “The Walking Dead” fans:
- Raleigh Studios in Senoia, where most of “The Walking Dead” is filmed, is a 140-acre spread that is used exclusively by the show. Most of the different communities are all created and filmed on the property except for The Kingdom, which is filmed at the former Fort McPherson military base in Atlanta, where Tyler Perry has studio space. Another community — The Oceanside — spent some time filming on Tybee Island, on the coast of Georgia.
- The fictional town of Alexandria, a gated community supposedly set outside of Washington, D.C., is a real neighborhood in Senoia. Just four families live there, while the rest of the homes are vacant and used as mini sets where some of the characters live. The real-life residents have signed non-disclosure agreements and have restrictions on when they can come and go and when they can have visitors so it’s not disruptive to filming.
- The actors who play zombies on the show use conditioner and KY Jelly to give their hair an unwashed, disheveled appearance.
- The production meeting room is a small theater with a conference table at the front. The room’s walls are lined with photos of each of the actors whose characters have died. “Our Grateful Dead” now occupies two walls. Whenever one of the characters dies, the actors — whether they’re in the scene or not — make a point of watching it, paying tribute to yet another fallen comrade.
- The Heaps — a giant mountain of trash ruled over by Polly Macintosh’s character Jadis — took three weeks to create. None of the cars that are embedded into the mound are newer than 2010, the year the world “died.”
- The location where Gabriel’s church stood is now an empty dirt and wooded lot and served as the same set where the final episode of Season 6 filmed Glenn and Abraham’s demise. It is, says Executive Producer Tom Luse, considered “pretty much hallowed ground.”
- The show’s props crew is creating a line of kid-friendly toys for a show noted for its violence and gruesomeness.
- The actors often produce a version of some scenes in which they make liberal use of the F-word. The cleaned up version is aired on TV, while the other version is used for DVD versions that aren’t as hamstrung by restrictions on foul language.
- Actor Norman Reedus is so close with Greg Nicotero, a special effects master as well as the show’s producer and sometime director, that they are able to finish each other’s sentences. The two also send each other songs to explain the emotion they want to bring to a scene. Before Daryl and Beth, two characters, burned down an old shack, Reedus sent Nicotero “Very Nervous and Love” by J Mascis. Ahead of Daryl having to stab his brother Merle, who had turned into a zombie, Nicotero sent a Willie Nelson song. Nicotero and Reedus even opened a restaurant in Senoia together: Nic & Normans, with the logo including an artist’s brush and an arrow.
- Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl, the son of sheriff Rick Grimes, is an Atlanta native and has grown up on the set. He’s now headed to college: the University of Georgia.