As with every The Walking Dead special, fans excitedly tuned into AMC this evening to gather insight from the cast and crew who took time out of their busy schedules to connect with those who endlessly support the series. The special this evening was a preview for season 8 that also held some shout outs from the cast and a bit of their personal insight what’s to come.
This time Chris Hardwick was joined by Scott Gimple, Lennie James, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan to discuss what led the characters to where they are now and what the future holds for them as a series and as two characters on opposite ends of the ‘all out war’.
Gimple said that the 100th episode, and those after, are some of the most consecutive with action that we’ve seen. It’s hard to imagine anything else after the season 7 finale allowed the Hilltop, Alexandria, and the Kingdom finally join together to take Negan down once and for all.
Upon the conclusion of the episode, Negan had been completely thrown off his game which was something that, not only, had never been seen by viewers, but had quite frankly never happened in that capacity at all.
Morgan commented on that during the preview special, and how Rick and Shiva had a lot to do with it.
‘He’s got a guy that’s not getting with the program. Negan’s sort of had it his way with these different communities for a long time and then there’s this guy that’s just a pain in his ass. I think he’s trying to figure out, obviously, how he’s going to deal with Rick. I guess we’re going to find out in season 8 how that’s going to work out. he’s not happy, he’s not happy certainly with how things left off at the end of seven. I think he’s a little fascinated with the tiger aspect of it but he’s sort of had it up to his eyeballs with Rick.’
James was discussing what it meant to be part of The Walking Dead for 100 episodes now, and he knows it’s all thanks to their incredible fans.
‘I’m very much aware that I’m in the 100th episode because of the way the fans reacted to the first episode and I’m pretty convinced I wouldn’t be where I was now if it wasn’t for the noise the fans made.‘
He went on to discuss the scene in the preview where Morgan says ‘I don’t die, I don’t die’.
‘The fans reaction and my kid’s reaction were ‘(Daddy), does that mean you’re dead?’
Laughter broke out but the sentiment was absolutely correct. Many fans have pegged Morgan as one of the next to die in the series and the lines ‘I don’t die, I don’t die’ only served to solidify that in their minds. It sort of mirrors the ‘situational right of passage’ before someone dies.
‘Like in this show if you fall in love, you have a really good idea, or someone calls you the moral compass – you’re dead.‘
Gimple also said there are a lot of direct echoes of the past within season 8, a number of them were in the trailer.
‘You don’t have to be a sleuth, even in the trailer, there are some pretty direct echoes of the past. There’s going to be the same thing throughout the season just these visual echoes or these situational echoes or dialogue. Then there’s some word play in one that’s just stupid that I put in there and no one’s called me on yet, I’m hoping that no one earth does and that it’s my own stupid little joke.‘
We’re extremely curious about that word play now, so if you happen to pick up on it before we do, let us know!
A few messages were shown from Lauren Cohan, Tom Payne, Allana Masterson, and Josh McDermitt who had this to say about what makes them excited for the fans to see in season 8.
For Cohan, it’s fans seeing them take their world back. For Payne, it’s the attitude on set with them finally feeling like the aggressors. For Masterson, it’s the cold open followed by a bang (that doesn’t stop for the entire season and for McDermitt it’s the war itself.
‘You’re going to see your characters turn into superheroes this year, you’ll see them go through hard times and see them go through some incredible moments.’
Many cast members, including Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln were shown (in pre-recorded segments) telling the fans ‘thank you’ for everything they’ve done. With sincere looks on their faces, they applauded the fans for all of the continued support and the way that it’s truly become a family for those involved in the series. The bond between the cast and the fans is unlike anything else in pop culture.
Other important take away moments from the preview special included Gimple reiterating that Rick isn’t waking up from a coma in the ‘old man Rick’ scene. He wouldn’t go any further than that, but he laughed and said he never thought that fans would consider that to be an option at all, and it’s the one most fans believed to be true.
In another segment, Reedus spoke about how the series has made him a better person and once again reiterated that they’re a huge family who stays connected at all times, in all ways possible.
Morgan went on to say that the scenes he has with Andy are some of the most intense he’d ever done in his career. Rick and Negan have an unwritten sexual chemistry that they all sort of joked about, but Gimple mentioned that it really does seem to exist, and also said that Jadis and Negan experience it to a degree as well.
In terms of intense scenes, James said he’d love to have a scene between Morgan and Negan but that those who come face to face with Negan don’t walk away whole. So for that reason, he’s glad it hasn’t quite happened yet. He wants to work closely with Morgan, but also wants to – well – stay alive.
Gimple also made a statement that will likely please many fans. It was asked if Carol would receive a ‘bottle’ episode and Gimple said there isn’t room for any bottle episodes in season 8. There’s too much action shown, too much of a war to be fought. However, he doesn’t rule one out in the future.
It was also brought to attention that Gabriel helps bring Negan’s back story to an important level. Negan’s life prior to the apocalypse is finally being uncovered and Gabriel brings more of that out. Gimple likes the dynamic between the characters as well. In fact, he called it ‘freakin’ delightful’
Hardwick took a moment to honor John Bernecker and the impact he had on The Walking Dead family. He mentioned that his contribution to the industry and who he was to TWD won’t ever be forgotten. It was a somber moment, but an important one.
McDermitt, in a pre-recorded message, spoke about Eugene and the fact that people are getting upset about something they’ve seen from him through his time in the series. He’s an adaptable character and he’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive.
A fan asked why Rick never used Eugene to his full potential while it appeared that Negan did automatically. Gimple explained that Rick used Eugene to the best of his ability with what they had then. Negan has Eugene under completely different circumstances and he’s honestly taken by Eugene. He really respects him and to earn Negan’s respect is not something that happens easily.
Morgan joked that the difference between himself and Lincoln on set make for part of their dynamic. They approach scenes completely differently but it works for the way Negan taunts Rick on screen.
He also spoke about Negan having words with King Ezekiel at some point about joining sides with Rick, however, we don’t think words will be all that’s shared between them when that ‘reunion’ of sorts happens.
James spoke about a conversation between Morgan and King Ezekiel where Morgan told Ezekiel that he was stuck. In that mindset, he meant that it’s a road he’s walked down before and he knows what’s at the end of it. He doesn’t know whether to go forwards or backward or to just stand still following the premise that all life is precious. However, it’s hard to think about that when he’s in an all out war with people he’s carried, he’s no longer alone. He’s found a way to love.
He also says that he’s trying really hard not to be ‘Cray Cray Morgie’.
We’re waiting for someone to put that on a t-shirt and we’ll be the first to order it.
Towards the end, a few other important points of conversation were discussed, and an extended preview was shown. You can read more about the preview here.
Gimple revealed that Maggie’s baby will not be born in season 8, and discussed nothing further. It does relate to the extended preview, however, where Maggie says she wants to fight one more time – and it needs to happen now.
James revealed that he’s really looking forward to a scene in season 8 where Morgan goes head to head with an unnamed character (for now). It’s a scene that he thinks of as monumental and iconic. He described it as ‘two guys with certain skills being pitched against one another’. Which has our curiosity peaked – who would Morgan be most likely to spar with in a complete battle?
We have to say, now more than ever, we can’t wait to see what happens next for the cast that we’ve grown so fond of. Will the characters we anticipate to see strength from come out on top? Will the characters we hope survive make it through the season and will Negan ever be 100% on top again?
We’ll all find out on October 22nd when The Walking Dead premieres it’s 100th episode. Here’s to 100 more.
‘…but I knew him’