Actor Jeffery Dean Morgan plays Negan in the series.

‘The Walking Dead’: Season Finale Reviews And Ratings Are In — Showrunner Talks Season 8 [Spoilers]

On Sunday night, the seventh season finale of the popular horror series The Walking Dead aired on AMC.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, fans were frantically speculating about what would go down in the anticipated season-ending episode. The series is not afraid to kill off major characters in order to move the plot forward, and the finale provided more of this staple the creators are known for.

Warning: There are Walking Dead spoilers beyond this point.

Who Died?

Before the end of the hour, Sonequa Martin-Green’s character, Sasha, made a brave sacrifice by consuming a suicide pill given to her by Eugene in what will go down as one of the series’ biggest moments and most memorable deaths thus far. Because of the trajectory of Sasha’s storyline so far this season, many fans had speculated that Sasha would be the one to go. As a result, fans were somewhat shocked that showrunners went with the obvious choice. Sasha’s death marks the third major character departure in the show’s seventh season, following fan favorites Glenn and Abraham in the season opener.

Critical Reviews

So, how did critics feel about the anticipated end to the season?

Critical reviews of the episode have been generally better than the season as a whole while still showing mixed results. The seventh season was far from the most critically acclaimed in the show’s history, but the finale was deemed as “an episode finally worth watching” by Forbes. In the review, the lack of an agonizing cliffhanger was seen as one of the most positive aspects of the finale, as well as the successful pay-off of storylines that had been set up all season long, like the long awaited battle between Rick and Negan’s groups.

In a review by ScreenCrush, the finale was “strong, yet predictable,” as most of the season’s action was contained to this one episode, resulting in a rushed finish. Overall, the finale was exactly what was expected, but not a whole lot more.

Ratings

Much like the reviews, the ratings are mixed. Final numbers show that even though it marked a six-week high, the episode was the lowest-rated finale of the series in five years, according to TV by the Numbers. Approximately 11.3 million viewers tuned in (and 5.4 in the coveted 18-49 demographic), a 22 percent decline from last year’s finale which scored a 6.9 rating. The only other finale to rank lower was Season 2 (which only achieved a 4.7 18-49 rating). Overall, Season 7’s average ratings are down 17 percent from season 6.

Of course, the show was still the highest rated Sunday night program on television, as it has been all season long. This ratings slump is purely relative, seeing as the show pulls in numbers almost double of what everything else on network and cable television does.

'The Walking Dead' finale aired Sunday night on AMC.
Actors Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus play Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon, respectively, in the series. [Image by John Sciulli/Getty Images]

Looking Ahead to Season 8

In an article by IGN, showrunner Scott Gimple teases what’s to come in the next chapter of the series. He says that Season 8 will be “more intense” and claims that “the first 4 episodes will melt people’s minds and break their televisions.”

Everyone on the show knows where they stand and the line in the sand is drawn, meaning that “the narrative changes a lot,” says Gimple. Also, he claims Season 8 will be “a bit more kinetic and fast-moving, because that’s where the story is going. The content is definitely going to be determining the form.”

Furthermore, he says things are looking rocky for fan-favorite Eugene in the upcoming season mainly because “he has still not found the strength to get over his fear. He’s still Negan after seeing everything Sasha is doing…but with everything Sasha said to him, maybe his courage is just lying dormant.”

If Season 7 was about setting up future events, Season 8 will literally bring “all-out war.” The next year will see the comic’s two-part “All Out War” story line come completely to fruition, but Gimple remained tight-lipped about the specifics. There are many twists from the comic that are not used in the upcoming season, he claims, but many developments not found in the comics will be fleshed out in more detail next year, giving fans lots of uncertainty to look forward to next year.

Season 8 is looking to be an intense thrill ride and fans can look forward to this next chapter when the series returns in the fall.

What did you think of the finale? How does Season 7 stack up against the rest? Sound off in the comments section below!

[Featured Image by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images]

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