When The Walking Dead returns for its eighth season, viewers could be in store for a jump ahead in time. The seventh season of AMC's hit show wrapped up this weekend, bringing a tense finale to Negan's first full season on the show. Although the episode didn't perform particularly well compared with the previous finales, the offering was certainly eventful and saw the battle lines drawn between the alliance of Alexandria, the Kingdom and the Hilltop against Negan and his dastardly Saviors. Jadis' Junkyard group also showed their true colors as part of Negan's network.
Fans of the The Walking Dead comic series will know that shortly after the All Out War arc that chronicles Rick's war against Negan concludes, a significant time skip occurs. Finishing in the immediate aftermath of the final battle, the narrative jumps ahead over two years and shows Alexandria and the surrounding communities to be co-operating successfully and living in peace - as far as one can in a zombie apocalypse.
Whilst the AMC adaptation doesn't always stick faithfully to its source material, current show-runner Scott M. Gimple claimed in an interview with THR that this time jump may feature sooner rather than later. Gimple states:
"For the people who read the comics, they're going to be expecting this. We're doing the book, we do all sorts of variations on it, and then we do things that are inspired by it and then we change things up with a remix. But I will say there are things that happen in that time jump that are referred to that are super interesting. And thus we might see some of that stuff; it might not be the same sort of jump, or we'll do that two to five years in real time."
Assuming that the All Out War material lasts for the entirety of season eight - and there is certainly enough there for that to be the case - then the time skip may well form the final scene of the season and would provide a neat, non-cliffhanger conclusion to the run. Gimple's comments regarding the interesting things that occur in the skip's intervening years suggest that The Walking Dead's ninth season could employ flashback techniques in order to tell the stories that took place in the time between seasons.
Given the criticism season seven of The Walking Dead has attracted, many fans feel the show is in need of renovations and a time jump may just provide such a remedy. Showing Alexandria functioning as a genuine and blossoming community containing people living regular lives would massively change the dynamic of the show and could freshen up what some believe has become formulaic television.
With that said, time skips can sometimes be difficult to execute successfully in a live-action medium. Missing large chunks of characters' lives can arguably create a distance between the audience and the figures on screen and fans will likely have plenty of questions as to how Alexandria develops as much as it does after the jump. This may be what Scott M. Gimple is referring to when he talks about doing the time jump "in real time," which may help offset this issue.
The Walking Dead season eight premieres this Fall on AMC.