Finally. It may have taken a long time to get there, but “The Walking Dead” is finally, at long last, going to war. After a season of cowering to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), making new allies and amassing an arsenal worthy of taking on the Saviors, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his rag tag group of apocalyptic survivors were finally ready to destroy the man who has brought them so much agony and death — and they had a trick up their sleeve in terms of Dwight (Austin Amelio).
Nothing goes down the way they hope, though. It’s unclear whether Dwight actually helps them when it came to Negan, Sasha (Sonequa Martin) kills herself to keep from being used as a pawn against her people, Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and the Scavengers betray Rick to align with Negan, and the first battle is fought on Alexandria soil — rather than at Negan’s Sanctuary, as in the comics. Still, the final episode of a dramatic Season 7 sent a very clear message that the time for war is now — and Season 8 is where (and when) it will be waged.
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With an assortment of casualties on both sides, “The Walking Dead” ended Season 7 with Negan rallying his troops as Maggie (Lauren Cohan) tells Rick this was all destined to happen, starting with Glenn (Steven Yeun) offering to help him in Season 1 when they were all still strangers — before they became the family Maggie says they are now.
It’s an interesting full-circle moment for the show that plays into the idea that even as bad as things may seem, they’ll never be the same after the impending war. It’s not often you see characters on this show reflecting on the early days of the zombie uprising, but in doing so Maggie perfectly illustrates how the entire show has been building to this point.
Now it’s time to look forward — and fans of the comics will no doubt look to “All Out War,” which is obviously going to be the basis for Season 8 of the AMC series. That story, beginning in 2013 with issue 115 of “The Walking Dead,” redefined the franchise. After ending what many fans might consider the least well-received season of the TV adaptation yet, “All Out War” could do the very same thing for this incarnation of “TWD.”
Luckily for viewers, this is one of the better stories creator Robert Kirkman has told in his long-running comic book series, so if the show is faithful enough in their adaptation, those who tune in should be in for a treat. That said, it’s not uncommon for the series to make changes to the comic book canon to tell a new story. As we’ve discussed before, hopefully that means a very different outcome to the show’s version of “All Out War.”
Until we get there, though, there’s plenty of story to tell and battles to be fought. One thing’s for sure, Rick and his friends are up for a much bigger fight than they ever could have anticipated with the Scavengers siding with Negan. It’s going to get bloody, and people will die. In the end, though, those are the consequences of war. The promise of freedom is just too much to pass up, regardless of the outcome.