‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 Gets A Change Of Pace: Is It Deliberate Or A Response To Fan Criticism? [Opinion]

Have you ever watched an episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead and wondered about the pacing? Did the episode seem slow, or were you just sick of episodes entirely devoted to character development ahead of plot advancement? For many, Season 7 suffered from these sorts of issues, with a drop in viewership being a potential consequence. Season 8, however, is supposed to pick up the pace dramatically thanks to an all-out war brewing between Rick and Negan’s groups. So, is this a result of timing regarding the war, or have AMC listened to fans and their on-going complaints about Season 7?

SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses AMC’s The Walking Dead. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers.

Season 7 of AMC’s The Walking Dead saw Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) come into direct conflict with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his group, called the Saviors. As far back as Season 6 saw the initial introduction of the Saviors, with the Season 6 finale seeing the very first appearance of Negan.

[Image by Gene Page/AMC]

It was the decision by AMC to cut the Season 6 finale episode so that viewers would not know whom Negan killed until Season 7 aired that first got fans upset. For the months between the Season 6 finale and the Season 7 premiere, fans talked about nothing else but whom Negan killed. While AMC obviously thought their decision would keep fans guessing, they were, perhaps, unaware of just how much fan-hate this episode could create.

During the hiatus, cast and crew of The Walking Dead reassured fans that the Season 7 premiere would reveal whom Negan killed, after speculation amid dark humor arose when fans suggested AMC could cut to a “character-developing” episode to further delay revealing the fate of those in Negan’s line up.

Then Season 7 premiered, and fans finally learned who died. After that, the season progressed at what many called an agonizing pace. While the show’s creators insisted the pace was needed for the payoff that would result in the Season 7 finale, fans still complained. Many of them chose to send a message to AMC by tuning out altogether. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, more than 5.5 million fans chose to skip Season 7 of The Walking Dead. Seventeen million viewers tuned in for the Season 7 premiere, whereas only 11.3 million felt the need to watch the Season 7 finale.

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 8
[Image by Gene Page/AMC]

Eleven million viewers is still an impressive number, however, and The Walking Dead showrunner, Scott Gimple, revealed at PaleyFest this year that he was still looking to produce 20 seasons, according to NME. Gimple then went on to say that Season 8 of The Walking Dead would pick up the pace.

“By virtue of the fact that the narrative has turned into one of pretty intense conflict,” Gimple revealed to Entertainment Weekly. “It’s going to affect the structure in ways that make it a bit more kinetic, a bit more breakneck—shifting away from entire stories in one episode, and sort of fractured over several episodes, with little pieces of each story coming together.”

Gimple further expanded his viewpoint about the differing pace between Seasons 7 and 8.

“I remember talking about that with [co-executive producer] Angela Kang early on in season 7. Because we knew the way that [Season] 7 was going to be structured, and we knew we wanted to mix it up in [Season] 8, and we knew what [Season] 8 was going to be and how that would dictate a very different kind of structure anyways. So, yeah, things are going to move, and possibly not have the kind of deep dives into characters in single episodes, but rather laying out the pieces as we go on.”

The Season 7 finale certainly did bring more action to the table than had been seen previously in the season, indicating that, as Gimple pointed out, the very narrative that called for a slower pace during Season 7 will now lead to an acceleration in Season 8 of The Walking Dead. This suggests that the pacing between the two seasons was deliberate.

However, as Variety Fair, along with many fans of the show point out, perhaps the change in pace could have more to do with the fall in viewership rather than the upcoming all-out war. After all, while The Walking Dead is still No. 1 when it comes to cable shows, a drop such as this is certainly something the creators of the show do need to acknowledge.

Regardless, it seems AMC have learned their lesson and fans are relieved to learn that Season 8 of The Walking Dead will not unfurl as slowly as Season 7 did.

Are you glad the pace will pick up in Season 8 of The Walking Dead? Or, do you like the slower, character-building seasons? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

The Walking Dead will return to AMC for Season 8 in the fall of 2017.

[Featured Image by Gene Page/AMC]