Entertainment Weekly will be revealing our latest The Walking Dead covers on Thursday, Sept. 21. To lead up to the unveiling, we are posting a TWD news item every day.
Everyone take cover! Because war is finally here on The Walking Dead. All Out War, that is. The walk-up to the armed conflict was a long one, extending over a season-and-a-half from when Rick first made his deal with the Hilltop in season 6 to take out Negan, all the way to the Kingdom and Hilltop soldiers showing up en masse to drive off the Saviors in the season 7 finale. So, yeah, it took a while.
But now that we’ve finally reached the celebrated All Out War arc from the comics on which the show is based, the question shifts from “When will the war start?” to “How long will the war last?” After all, some felt the first huge Walking Dead villain, the Governor, overstayed his welcome when he was not dispatched by the end of season 3. The Governor eventually showed up with a second army and was defeated (and killed) in season 4’s midseason finale — taking Hershel and the prison down with him.
So considering the show’s history in regards to how long they keep their big bads around, as well as the ever-changing pace of the program, we couldn’t help but wonder: Could the war between Rick and Negan extend past season 8? We posed that question to showrunner Scott Gimple and got a very definitive answer. “The war will absolutely be resolved by the end of season 8,” says Gimple. “Absolutely.”
The admission by Gimple that the war will end in this next season also brings the focus back to the mysterious “Old Man Rick” scene from the season 8 trailer that appears to mirror a time-jump from the comics that happens after the war, although there could be a twist as far as how that is approached by the TV version. It also brings to question how soon we will be seeing the next group of villains — known as the Whisperers — and their enigmatic bald female leader Alpha. Asked whether Alpha might be making her debut in season 8, Gimple responds, “I’m going to give you a full no-comment on that.”
Place your bets now on Alpha’s arrival, ladies and gentlemen. But as far as the war against Negan goes, it seems we now know it will be ending sooner rather than later — and no later than season 8.
Make sure to check out our big Walking Dead cover coming later this week. And for more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.