On Saturday night, Madison Square Garden played host to thousands of The Walking Dead fans for a panel preview the show's upcoming eighth season hosted by Talking Dead's Chris Hardwick.
Hardwick starts the panel by playing footage from the last seven seasons of The Walking Dead, a reel consistent to the one played at San Diego Comic Con.
After the sizzle reel, Hardwick introduces Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Dave Alpert, Greg Nicotero, Andrew Lincoln, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Austin Amelio, Katelyn Nacon, Tom Payne, and Norman Reedus to the stage.
Hardwick asks the producers about reaching 100 episodes.
"It's overwhelming," Hurd said. "The most important thing is we do it because you give us, all of you give us the energy to keep doing it. Your passion your support, your love, your tears when we lose a loved one. That's what, really, we're feeling tonight, that 100 episodes are only because of your support, so thank you."
"The idea that we'd hit 100 episodes is just something we never anticipated," Alpert said.
"Never," Kirkman said. "All joking aside, I'm really excited. I get that question all the time. I think that we've finally gotten to a place with Fear the Walking Dead where it has its own identify...there are two Walking Dead shows, I'm not going to name them, but there are two...There is one character that is going to go from one show that will go from one show and appear in the other show, that I will not name."
"Are we going to see a Walking Dead character's backstory play out in Fear the Walking Dead? ""Or are we going to see a Fear the Walking Dead character show up in The Walking Dead? What could happen? Or is it going to be different than that?"
There will be news soon.
Nicotero begins talking about how intimidating it is to serve the fans before introducing a clip from the upcoming season.
In the clip, a van parks next to a truck turned sideways. Carl gets out and starts walking before it cuts to Carl walking somewhere else -- to a gas station. He observes debris on the ground as he walks, wearing his dad's hat, carrying a gas can. He comes upon a man who is asking to be spared. His mom gave him advice about helping a traveler. Carl has his gun drawn and searches for the source of the voice. He lays down, checking under a car looking for the man who is still talking. He sees the man stand up as he says he hasn't eaten in a few days.
Hardwick then asks Lincoln about why he is excited to move forward.
"Season 7 sucked for Rick Grimes," Lincoln said. "Season 8, he's definitely getting his strut back...We've got the gang back together. I'm working with a few of my special buddies. It's reminiscent of Seasons 1-4."
The conversation leads to Lincoln being ordered to show off some dance moves.
Are Reedus and Lincoln still glitter fighting?
"We haven't in a while but it may be coming soon," Reedus said.
Now, for Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Hardwick asks about Negan and the fan reaction. Why is he so polarizing?
"I think he's funny," Morgan said. "And a sexy ass. I wasn't gonna go there on my own, so thank you." He goes to point out that Negan brings a little special spice. But, will we see his backstory? "I think this year we get to explore little slivers," Morgan said. "We get to see some slices of what Negan's past is. Other than that, Robert wrote an awesome comic book that is out today!"
"I don't know if we're gonna ever do it but I sure as hell hope so," Morgan said.
Has Carol traded in the cookies for body armor? Is she ready to fight?
"Yes," McBride said emphatically. "Yes! Thank god! Yes! But that doesn't mean she's not gonna be baking something!"
As for her favorite thing about Carol, McBride says, "cookies," before adding, "she's capable and she cares and I think that I would certainly want her on my team."
"Be careful what you with for, Chris," James said. "I think Morgan's, like he says in the trailer, Morgan's stuck. He's stuck because he knows exactly what he's gotta do to protect the people that he's come to care about and in some cases love. He knows that goes against everything he stands for."
Is he Clear to start Season 8?
"I think Morgan got clear a ways back," Morgan said. "I think he's one of the things that the writers have been very brave about...Morgan's argument is about how we live."
The whole reason Morgan is going to battle is to say "we don't want to live like that," James said. "I can say that, I've never met the fellow. Rick's memories, I mean, I can't bow down. I can't live with that guy's heel on my neck."
Hardwick asks the audience if they trust Dwight and gets a mixed response. Would Amelio trust Dwight in Rick's position, though? "I heard the two face thing, it's good, I like that... very symbolic," Amelio said. "I would respect the ballsy-ness of the guy. The decisions he's making are really high stakes decision.s We left off where he goes by himself to Alexandria to tell them what he thinks of Negan and gives them a little insight. That takes some cojones...I'd give him a chance. I'd give the guy a chance."
What's going on with Enid's journey at this point, Hardwick asks.
"No one really knew whether to trust her or not," Nacon said. "She's definitely in a very different place than she was when she first came into the show. When she first came in, she was closed off and had a lot of walls built up." Then came Glenn, Maggie and Carl. "They helped her break down those walls and see the light."
What's the deal with Jesus and Morgan fighting in the trailer and Jesus' journey going forward?
"There's a little bit of entertainment that happens between them which ma be playful, may be..." Payne said. "It was an interesting, whenever what that was came up in the script, it was kind of exciting for me because I had been training for that character...to have them dance around each other a bit. I'm really excited for this season and for Jesus to be part of a group a bit more than he has before. I think Maggie, and the whole situation with Maggie and Sasha at the Hilltop, and Enid being there has helped him, it's a nice little family atmosphere..."
In Season 7, Daryl was treated like a pet by Negan. What is Reedus most excited for?
"To kick that guy's butt," Reedus said. "This season is really two big teams pitted against each other. It's all out all the way...He's going a bit rogue at times and he wants revenge."
Hardwick tells the audience to watch Ride with Norman Reedus. Reedus reveals he and Morgan go to Spain together in an episode.
A fan asks Reedus if he feels guilty for getting Glenn killed.
"We were driving to that cemetery to do that premiere and I'm sitting with Jeff and I go, 'God, I hope they don't blame me for this,'" Reedus said. "That's gonna weigh heavy on Daryl's head forever. When they had him in the cell, he was allowing himself to be taken. I don't think he had any fight in him. He deserved it. Then they showed him the picture of Glenn and he's like, 'If you can't fight for yourself, fight for that guy.'"
How different is it playing a role on The Walking Dead versus anything else?
"It's a lot different," Morgan said. "Between [Denny and Negan], that's a pretty big jump between personalities and everything. Language used. I loved playing Denny but as far as being in a world with people that I want to go to work with every day, this wins, every day."
Will Clementine from the video games pop up on the show or anywhere else?
"I think if we cross pollinate too much it takes away from what makes Walking Dead special in all the different genres," Kirkman said.
Possibility of Daryl and Jesus romance?
"I don't think so," Reedus said. "Never say never but who knows. There's a couple people I'm supposed to get together with already. I think it'll be a big orgy. I mean, it is the apocalypse." Payne grabs Reedus' hand and laughs.
Andrew Lincoln reveals that Morgan Jones was wanted back on the show since Season 3 but Lennie James was too busy. "It is strange because I realize I haven't acted with Lennie much of late," Lincoln said.
"I think the relationship between Morgan and Rick is kind of shawshank," James said. "Sometimes they're gonna be together and sometimes they're gonna be opposed but they're forever gonna be linked."
Are the Saviors at a disadvantage?
"Just watch the first episode," Nicotero said.
"I'm just gonna say one thing," Lincoln said. "It's taken 100 episodes for Rick Grimes to come up with a good plan and this is it."
The Walking Dead's sibling series Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9 pm ET on AMC. The Walking Dead will return for its eighth season on October 22, 2017. The Season 8 premiere will mark 100 episodes overall for the popular AMC series. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.