After “The Walking Dead’s” Season 7 conclusion failed to draw in viewers in the same droves as past finales, many fans are wondering what’s in store when the show returns for it’s eighth season this fall. Well, according to showrunner Scott M. Gimple, viewers should expect far less peaks and valleys and instead prepare for a new approach to how the stories of the massive ensemble cast are told.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Gimple explained how Season 8 will stray away from entire episodes dedicated to single characters or communities in favor of progressing multiple narratives each week, resulting in pacing that feels far less stagnant.
“By virtue of the fact that the narrative has turned into one of pretty intense conflict, it’s going to affect the structure in ways that make it a bit more kinetic, a bit more breakneck — shifting away from entire stories in one episode, and sort of fractured over several episodes, with little pieces of each story coming together.”
However, it doesn’t sound as though this new approach to the episode structure is a means of course correction, but rather a calculated strategy, one decided upon long before Season 8 began shooting as a means of giving the season a more unified tone, as opposed to Season 7, which saw many of the show’s major players on separate paths.
“I remember talking about that with [co-executive producer] Angela Kang early on in season 7,” Gimple told EW. “Because we knew the way that 7 was going to be structured, and we knew we wanted to mix it up in 8, and we knew what 8 was going to be and how that would dictate a very different kind of structure anyways. So, yeah, things are going to move, and possibly not have the kind of deep dives into characters in single episodes, but rather laying out the pieces as we go on.”
Regardless of the “whys” behind this decision, it should come as a welcomed relief to fans who may have been put off by Season 7’s often inconsistent pace. After all, dedicating entire hour-long (or sometimes longer) episodes to a single character/group whose story some fans might not be invested in is a surefire way to alienate a significant portion of viewers each week. On the other hand, progressing the story arcs of multiple characters every week will ensure that each episode has something for everyone to enjoy. It’s the tried-and-true formula that soap operas have been using for decades, and with all of the show’s drama and suspense, what is “The Walking Dead” if not a post-apocalyptic, zombie-filled soap opera?
Starring Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peleteir, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Green, Danai Gurira as Michonne, and many, many more, “The Walking Dead” will return for its eighth season in October on AMC.