Showrunner Scott Gimple has stated that season 8 of The Walking Dead will have noticeably more characters involved in each episode, and will mix up the teams as well. The upcoming season has already teased the "all out war" comics storyline with Negan and Rick's faction of settlements fighting at last, but it seems that some of the criticisms that have been previously aimed at the show will be answered as well.
The season 7 finale left it in no uncertain terms that lines had been drawn, allegiances had been made, and that it would lead to confrontations between the various groups and Negan's band of Saviors. But some had still questioned the speed and pace of the season, with Rick Grimes taking an age to face up to his Lucille-wielding nemesis, after the devastating cliffhanger from season 6 had been resolved. One particular thing that seemed to irk critics and the audience were the bottle episodes where the narrative would focus on one of the lesser used characters for the whole runtime, thereby often stopping the progression of a major ongoing plot line. For example episode 6 of season 7 ('Swear'), concentrated solely on Tara at the Oceanside community and is sometimes highlighted as being one of the worst episodes ever. Sometimes these standalone episodes worked, but more than often they didn't.
Now according to TVLine, Gimple has promised that each episode of the new season will hold more characters instead of only concentrating on a select few at a time. He says:
"Because of the narrative that we're following ... the story this season is really spread out among all of the characters. And the story shifts quite a bit in single episodes between lots of different characters on a consistent basis, which is a little more unusual for the show."
That would seem to indicate a faster and more intense pace for season 8, that would be in keeping with the expected confrontations that have been predicted. Gimple also intriguingly hints that some expected partnerships may be -- at least temporarily -- changed while the storyline progresses:
"We'll see characters affect one another that we haven't seen affect one another before, or even just thrown together that we haven't seen thrown together, It's been really satisfying."
Whether these changes are due to feedback or previous criticisms remains to be seen. but at least it indicates that we can expect something different from the show than we saw in season 7 and earlier runs. We've already seen glimpses of old man Rick, with previews promising that there will be plenty of casualties and more action than previous years. The show also hits its milestone of 100 episodes, which is something to be applauded as well. With Gimple's promise of some changes within the show's structure and plenty of zombie-fighting assured, we eagerly look forward to seeing what the future now holds for Rick and his gang.
The Walking Dead season 8 premieres Sunday, October 22 on AMC.