Greg Nicotero, the series executive producer, tells Variety that the walkers will be the real winners in Season 8, which premieres this Sunday.
"[The walkers] are just waiting for these groups of idiots to kill each other off so they can finish taking over the rest of the world," Nicotero told Variety back in May when the Season 8 premiere was being shot. "The zombies are like, 'Oh, you're going to let us not do the work and you're going to do the work for us? Great. We'll just wait until you're done and we'll take over.' It's sort of reminding the audience that this is the world."
That sounds like a repeat of the showdown over the prison compound between Rick and the Governor: In the end, neither side won and the zombies took over the site.
But Nicotero says there's hope beyond what promises to be a brutal confrontation. "It's not about surviving day-to-day. It's about how is society going to persevere next week or next month or next year. We started getting into that last year with Rick and Michonne, like, 'It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about how we're going to go on.'"
He mentions Maggie's speech in the Season 7 finale about why Glenn kept Hershel's watch. "[That's] a little bit of precursor to what we're doing this season, which is to remind people who Hershel was and who Glenn was and hearing Maggie talking about society and going forward. There's a specific moment in this episode where a character says, 'Is hope enough to get us through to the next level?'"
We certainly hope so.
Season 8 of "The Walking Dead" premieres Sunday, October 22, at 9 p.m. on AMC.