Gene Page/AMC
Derek Lawrence
March 18, 2017 AT 11:41 AM EDT

War is coming.

With Rick mounting an army to go against Negan and the Saviors, the last three episodes of The Walking Dead season 7 are heading for a showdown, with showrunner Scott M. Gimple recently telling EW that “things become quantum intense.”

The hit AMC series kicked off Paleyfest 2017 Friday night at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, with the creative team and cast, including Andrew Lincoln, Melissa McBride, and Lauren Cohan, looking back and most importantly, forward.

“It’s rising up,” Sasha portrayer Sonequa Martin-Green told EW. “It’s the message we’ve been sending out for the entire back eight [episodes], that it’s time to rise up and do something. It’s time to be the leaders we are, to sacrifice for something greater. Rick says to Michonne in episode 712, that it’s not about us anymore, it’s about the future. So that’s what these last three episodes are about, that’s what the entire back eight has been about.”

While the end of the March 5 episode, “Say Yes,” showed Sasha striking an unlikely alliance with Rosita to go after Negan, another strong female has returned to the fold, albeit reluctantly.

“I think she’s ready to fight,” McBride, who plays Carol, shared with EW. “It’s painful. When Morgan asked if she got what she wanted, it’s kind of like, ‘No. I didn’t just get away from these people, I love these people. I wanted to get away from pain.’ So I don’t think the way she views it is any different, she’s just doing what she knows she has to do and she’s known that all along.”

As fans eagerly await for what is hopefully a more celebratory finale than last season’s bloodbath cliffhanger, Gimple is already hard at work on the season 8 premiere, which will be the show’s milestone 100th episode. Having hit that many episodes may suggest Walking Dead is nearing the end, yet, Gimple noted, “It’s more about setting up the next 100 episodes.”

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“The end of the season is very much the end of a chapter,” he shared. “It’s very much a conclusion that promises this epic story ahead. It’s about setting up this giant, epic tale to come, not only in season 8, but beyond.”

And what will that future hold? Lincoln has his own ideas, including pitching his idea for the ending of the series, which involves Rick being bit, yelling ‘Carl,’ doing some kung fu, and making a thrilling discovery. “Holy s—, maybe I’m the cure,” said Lincoln in astonishment, with the crowd erupting in applause — besides comic book creator Robert Kirkman, who instantly shot down the proposal: “I just want to say that was cute.”

Without the blessing of Kirkman, Lincoln might be out of luck with his dream ending, but he might be getting lucky in another area. When asked by a fan about the possibility of Rick and Michonne having a baby, the actor replied with a smile, “I mean, we’ve got to repopulate the world.”

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