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Tom Payne on ‘The Walking Dead’: Season 8 Makes Season 7 “Easier to Get Through”

As season 7 of The Walking Dead progressed, fans were taken on a roller coaster ride of emotions that have never been to such extremes before. From tears and anger to brief feelings of hope, it was hard to watch the series last season and have total control of your emotions.

So as the cast and crew discuss season 8 of TWD, not only do we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we’re being thrust into it. The dark cloud looming over season 7 is gone and we’re all ready for battle, and if you think being a fan right now is exciting, being part of the cast and crew is indescribable.

Not only were the episodes in season 7 so sad and hard to watch, the mood on set mirrored those emotions closely. The cast was filming darker material, they weren’t together as they were used to, and they had to watch the characters they’d grown with becoming physically and emotionally broken at the hands of Negan.

Tom Payne is the latest star to talk about what we can expect in season 8 and he is as fired up and excited as all of us are.

Starting with the way season 7 was so hard for fans to watch, he addressed how season 8 is going to make season 7 easier to get through.

I think 7 was such a bummer for everyone watching it because no one likes to see the group so ground down and not winning, basically. But in order to have the victories, you have to have the low points as well, and I think it was hard. That’s the first time anyone’s really seen the group ground down for such a prolonged amount of time and there didn’t seem to be any way out of it. But coming into season 8, they’ve regrouped and they have a new resolve to fight back and to have everyone join together and do that.

Anyone who maybe stopped watching after the first episode last year — and I completely understand anybody who did because it was completely very brutal and there wasn’t seemingly any light at the end of the tunnel — knowing how season 8 is and how it starts and how it progresses, I think having that light at the end of the tunnel of, Okay, wow, now they’re fighting back. Season 7 will be easier to get through.

He also spoke about the ways we’ll see Jesus mature in the midst of the fight, and how he’s excited to for fans to see his hand-to-hand combat. It’s not the first time that Payne has spoken about how excited he is for this side of Jesus to be brought to the screen either. It’s something he’s put a lot of work in and he’s proud, rightfully so.

Yes, and I’m very happy about that. I have put a little work into that, and we shared a bit last year, but to be honest, the episode was a little bit rushed and it was also against walkers, so it’s nothing because he doesn’t have to deal with anyone fighting back. But in a war situation obviously we’re against other human beings, and so you’ll see his skills in there, which I don’t think has been on the show before and that’s really exciting to be a part of because all of the fights on the show always end up being scrappy and on the floor and brawly.

In terms of Jesus’ place in the series and how he’ll mature in more than just physical combat, Tom says he’s ready to be an important part of the group now. It’s not exactly that Jesus wasn’t ready before, he just realizes that it takes more than being present.

He’s ready to be a part of the group now, and it sounds like he’s been brought into it a little bit more, and I feel that he could be an asset going forward. I think what’s interesting about this season and Jesus’ role and the other people’s roles is how they consider themselves to fit into that dynamic and what they feel that they can bring to help in the best way.

There are certainly conflicts that arise and different situations about how to best proceed with certain things that happen, and everyone is challenged in different ways of, well, do we just go in and kill everyone, or do we take a more structured approach? And I think Jesus feels like he can have a voice within the group now, and should have a voice within the group. Because what’s the point in being part of a dynamic if you don’t add something to it.

Season 8 of The Walking Dead premieres on AMC on October 22nd.

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