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Season 8 of The Walking Dead has been one for the record books. After seeing the survivors beaten down and subservient for a year, the current batch of episodes brought us All Out War against Negan and The Saviors. While the first half of the season was mostly gunfights, the back half has introduced complex interpersonal issues, and shows how the ongoing conflict is affecting our favorite characters' psyches. The battle will come to a conclusion with this Sunday's upcoming finale, and it now appears that the stakes for the episode are even higher than we anticipated. Because it will essentially serve as a finale for everything we've seen thus far, before some big changes happen in Season 9. As Scott M. Gimple tells it,
[T]his episode isn't just like these 15 episodes coming to a conclusion, but Angela [Kang] and myself and the writers had always talked about this in many ways being sort of the conclusion of the first eight seasons. This show will be very much a new show next year and with a bigger, new narrative. It was something I was really excited about getting into even before season 8. And so there was just a certain weight in the air of the kind of conclusion that we were getting closer to. It was a weird graduation for everybody.
It looks like The Walking Dead will once again flip the script in its next season. But rather than simply a change of location or a new villain, there's going to be a larger shift in the long running drama. This is certainly an exciting prospect, but it also brings a sense of foreboding-- especially considering some contract issues currently being worked out.
Scott M. Gimple's comments to EW are certainly exciting, as the conflict and overall conversation around Negan has dominated the show for two and a half seasons. The show is due for a change, and having a seismic shift in the narrative is probably the right call. Plus, it should be interesting to see if Jeffrey Dean Morgan's villainous character survives the war and remains on cast, or ultimately gets the chop.
There is also the question of Maggie's fate, as Lauren Cohan's contract is up, and she's reportedly in negotiations regarding her future on The Walking Dead. Maggie's arc in the wake of Glenn's death has been one of the highlights of the Negan era, and Cohan is playing it to perfection. But Gimple's vague comments about Season 9 make me feel slightly less confident that she'll will continue her tenure as The Widow.