The Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple says that following the season 8 finale, the series will be “very much a new show“. The finale, which will take place at an “unusual setting“, will provide closure to the “All Out War” storyline as Rick, Maggie, and the others face off with Negan and the Saviors one last time.
Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group have been at odds with the Saviors for almost three seasons now, though Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) didn’t appear on-screen until the end of the season 6 finale, where he viciously murdered Glenn and Abraham. Rick and his fellow survivors spent season 7 in servitude to Negan while slowly building up the resources and alliances necessary to rebel against the Saviors. War began in the season premiere, and will finally reach its conclusion in Sunday night’s episode, titled “Wrath”.
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In an interview with EW, Gimple talks about the season 8 finale and what it means for the series going forward. According to Gimple, the finale isn’t just a conclusion of the “All Out War”, but a “conclusion of the first eight seasons“:
This show will be very much a new show next year and with a bigger, new narrative. It was something I was really excited about getting into even before season 8. And so there was just a certain weight in the air of the kind of conclusion that we were getting closer to. It was a weird graduation for everybody.
In calling season 9 of The Walking Dead “a new show“, it appears that the finale will wrap up multiple plotlines other than the conflict between Rick and Negan. Simon (Steven Ogg) was killed for his betrayal in last week’s episode, which leaves three Saviors who are currently series regulars: Negan, Dwight (Austin Amelio), and Eugene (Josh McDermitt). Dwight has switched sides and is currently in the custody of the Saviors while Eugene has made his allegiance to the Saviors clear. It remains to be seen if all key Savior characters will be killed by the end of the finale or if certain ones will remain in some capacity.
As for the outcome of the war, the odds may have shifted further into Negan’s favor when it was revealed that he was using Dwight to come up with a plan to outsmart everyone. As Negan holds the advantage, Rick’s side may be hit with more casualties than they expect, which could result in the deaths of one or more major characters. Fans will have to wait and see who is left standing when the dust is settled, and how the war will change the direction of the series.
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The Walking Dead season 8 concludes Sunday, April 15 at 9pm ET on AMC.