Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's Season 7 finale.
Season 7 of The Walking Dead had a very specific purpose for its creative team, and that was to make Negan and his Saviors beat down Rick and Team Family to the point where the only thing left for the protagonists to do was rise up and fight back. The recent season finale finally kicked off the famed All Out War storyline from the comics, and fans can look forward to seeing lots more of that in Season 8. But according to Scott Gimple, we shouldn't expect a similar scenario playing out every episode. In his words:
It's going to be different. They aren't going to meet in Alexandria every weekend and do that. There are twists and turns to it, definitely some small-scale things and some large-scale things and a whole different momentum to the story. Now that [the various factions] are in public conflict and everything is on the table as far as everybody knows who everybody is to each other and what's going on, the narrative changes a lot. It's going to become a bit more kinetic and fast-moving, because that's where the story is going. The content is definitely going to be determining the form.
When Scott Gimple appeared on Talking Dead the other night and teased that Season 8 would be a big one, even he knew to make a joke about how that's the kind of thing he (and others on the show) always say about upcoming seasons. Those words were far more generic than these, though, and Gimple's explanation to TVLine is one that should legitimately incite excitement within viewers who were more put off than expected by Season 7's pacing and the abundance of standalone episodes. Things are gonna get hype.
Season 8 has the gigantic advantage of not having to introduce a full set of brand new settings and character populations, since we're now quite familiar with The Kingdom, The Hilltop Colony, The Sanctuary, Oceanside and the Scavengers' junkyard. Granted, that's still a hell of a lot of moving parts for The Walking Dead to corral with narrative urgency, but the TV show can now work a little more like the comic books, where the plot can jump from one area to the next without the explicit need to slow down and set up exposition. And anyway, it would be hard to clearly reiterate plot machinations while in the middle of a massive gun battle that features a special appearance from a killer tiger.
As Greg Nicotero said, the crux for Season 8 was distilled in the season finale's harrowing sequence where Negan has Rick and Carl back on their knees, but Rick is no longer willing to play defeated victim. And as the comics have shown us, there is a big world out there for Rick and Negan to do battle in, and Scott Gimple & Co. seem ready to bring their signature remixes and twists to keep everyone guessing who will be the next big victim(s). Personally, though, I can't wait to meet Live-Action Earl.