Why The Walking Dead Season 8 Premiere Is Like Nothing We've Seen, According To Danai Gurira

michonne the walking dead season 7

While Season 7 of The Walking Dead had fans on edge waiting to find out who it was that Negan took down with Lucille, there's an entirely different vibe happening as audiences anticipate the arrival of Season 8. The AMC hit will doing something of a 180 on the dour subject matter we saw last season, with the All Out War between Rick and Negan heating everything up. And star Danai Guriri is saying that not only will this season's premiere be unlike what fans have seen before, but that we won't even be prepared for it.

We don't tend to tread the same ground twice. It is a deeply different season premiere --- deeply, deeply different and unpredictable and very, very rich in the story that's being told and powerfully acted and all of that. . . . That's what's amazing about the writers of the show, is that they don't tread the same ground. So you can't be prepared for it. If you thought, 'Well, I've seen this, I've seen that, so I can be prepared for what's coming next' --- no, you can't. You won't be prepared.

I gotta say, I was a big fan of the first trailer for Season 8 that was revealed during San Diego Comic-Con, as it played up both quiet intensity and loud-as-hell action. (Not to mention 'splosions!) The premiere will be The Walking Dead's 100th episode, so there was definitely a strong intention to make it stand out not only as an introduction to Season 8, but also as a symbol of the series' longevity. And if things indeed showcase an unpredictable and more energetic, we can't wait to start hooting and hollering for Michonne and all the rest.

Season premieres are usually where The Walking Dead takes noticeable risks with its storytelling, with last year bouncing between Negan killing people and Negan mentally torturing Rick, and Season 6 bouncing between present and past timelines as the group tried to control that massive zombie herd. (And so on, and so on.) The Season 7 finale featured the walker-fied death of Sasha, as well as the formation of a supergroup after The Kingdom and Hilltop Colony joined Alexandria in a battle against Negan's Saviors and the backstabbing Jadis and her Scavengers, so the premiere could easily play up the sadness factor, but it seems like there will be more exuberance than mourning.

During her talk with EW, Danai Guriri seemed to mirror comments recently made by showrunner Scott Gimple, who said that Season 8 will focus on different team-ups and partnerships between characters, shaking things up and putting the spotlight on more people. According to Guriri:

It's like nothing before. We've all been knocked clear off our feet, and there's just so many ways everybody's story is expanded and deepened and sharpened. And the clashes that we're in take turns no one's going to expect. And at the same time, it remains palpably human, you know?

Scott Gimple had also teased what sounded like a more comic-centric way of storytelling, in which the episodes will showcase more frequent shifts between the different characters' scenes together, and that could definitely help expand everyone's respective stories. Especially after Season 7 slowed things down for the various standalone episodes it offered.

And we certainly won't complain about The Walking Dead giving audiences more twist-driven clashes between its protagonists and antagonists. Especially when those clashes involve the revenge-minded Daryl and whoever he happens to be beating the shit out of.

With some characters appearing more often than they have in the past, The Walking Dead will bring its hectic new narrative to AMC when Season 8 kicks off on Sunday, October 22, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Don't forget about Fear the Walking Dead wrapping up the zombified back half of Season 3 in the meantime, and to see the rest of what TV has to offer int he near future, head to our fall premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.