Gene Page/AMC
April 12, 2017 at 10:00 AM EDT

The Walking Dead

TV Show
run date
Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Norman Reedus
Drama, Horror, Thriller

The battle has officially been joined. Alexandria has risen up and — thanks to help from the Hilltop and the Kingdom, and no thanks to those weird-talking Scavengers — fought back against Negan and his Savior goons. It made for an action-packed season 7 finale of The Walking Dead.

If you’re excited to see how that all plays out when the show returns in season 8, you’re not alone. Andrew Lincoln was one of several cast members who talked openly about the difficulties of filming 7, with our heroes in a shell-shocked submissive position. But now that we’ve finally gotten to the “All Out War” arc of The Walking Dead comic, that has all changed — as has the energy on set.

“I can’t wait,” says Lincoln, who also revealed he had no advance knowledge of the big Scavengers twist in the finale. And he insists he is not merely putting on a sales act. “This is not hyperbole. This is not a cynical act to try and amp up enthusiasm for the hundredth episode in season 8, but I am genuinely more excited about this next episode and the following 15 than I’ve ever been in my life. I can’t wait to get back.”

RELATED: Season Finale Q&As with Lincoln, Sonequa Martin-Green, showrunner Scott M. Gimple, and finale director Greg Nicotero. Also, follow @DaltonRoss on Twitter for the latest Walking Dead updates.

While many fans missed seeing their favorite characters for long stretches of season 7 as new communities were introduced, Lincoln promises that set-up work will now pay off with what is to come. “It’s been a lot of placing the chess pieces and positioning and introducing key players in this landscape,” says the star. “And I think now we get to start really playing the game. The game is afoot, as they say.”

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