The Walking Dead returns with the second half of season 8 on Sunday, and with a huge change from the original comic source material already in the works with the impending death of Carl (who is still alive and well in the comics), fans are wondering what that means for the end of the All-Out War arc that showrunner Scott M. Gimple told EW last summer would be concluded in season 8.
With that in mind, we asked Gimple what kind of season finale (which will air on April 15) fans can look forward to this time around. “It’s very big,” he says. “Probably currently a little too big. It was pretty amazing the scope of some of the things that we got to do. And yet the emotional intensity was insane. And it very much sets up the start of the next story.”
That’s an interesting comment by Gimple because Walking Dead finales in the past have operated in a few different ways. Some have acted more as resolutions to the previous season, others have served to set up the story to come, and then there was that infamous season 6 cliffhanger that had everyone up in arms.
Seeing as how there is a very natural ending point in the comic with the conclusion of the war — before picking back up with a five-year time jump — we asked Gimple exactly how much setup for season 9 this finale will be doing. “There is some,” says the showrunner. “It certainly is not all setup. But the seeds to the next turn of the story are planted. And some of them are not. Some are subtly planted in as much that we know in many ways the next turn of the story.”
Of course, the other big question is how different the war ending on TV will play out when compared to the comic. With Carl soon to be gone and Dwight seemingly already having defected, there are bound to be some differences. “I think emotionally we’re aspiring to evoke the same feeling that [creator Robert Kirkman] achieved in the book,” says Gimple. “But from the butterfly effect and different characters around that weren’t and vice versa, and even just the thrust of the story, how things play out are quite different in a lot of ways. There are some big changes that change the very outcome of certain aspects of the story — still trying to be true to the emotions of the story, but changing some big parts of it. It plays out very differently.”
Does that mean Negan could suffer a different fate that his comic book counterpart? Or there may be more casualties we weren’t expecting? It sounds like we’ll have to wait until April 15 to find out.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, Feb. 25, at 9 p.m. on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.