It's early May and war is headed at Negan's Sanctuary for the first time. Austin Amelio rubs his hands together, gets himself into the mindset of his burnt-faced character Dwight, and marches out of the Sanctuary's balcony doors following Greg Nicotero's "Action!" call.
He steps out of the massive stage built inside and out to portray the Sanctuary hideout (which is complete with shampoo, soap, shoes, football helments, beds, sugar, and food for trade), approaching the yellow railing fans have come to know with a walkie in his hand.
What Amelio's Dwight finds is bad news. In the distance, according to Nicotero, is a pillar of smoke. An explosion of sorts has earned the attention of the Sanctuary and it's time to prepare for what will be the most "propulsive" series of events in The Walking Dead's history. At least, that's how the cast and crew of the AMC series framed it while ComicBook.com visited the show's Senoia, Georgia set.
"We ended 7x16 with Negan standing in front of the Sanctuary saying, 'Okay, we're going to war.' Everybody's kind of there and ready to go," Nicotero said. "So, I would say this is by far the most propulsive season premiere that we've ever done in terms of setting the stage for knowing that we're in the war."
Where Season 7 of The Walking Dead took every chance to expand on smaller details and journeys outside of the main group's adventures, Season 8 will switch up the pace and go "All Out" for its war.
"I think we're accelerating our pace a little bit this season in terms of maybe having some of those little moments kind of conclude a little sooner as opposed to maybe dragging them out over long periods of time. So I think that the show's going to have a tremendous amount of momentum this year."
The same can be said about the show's production. The Season 8 premiere promises to go places the series never has, requiring an extra day of production, and splashing bits from later episodes into its 67-minute broadcast slot. Within minutes of directing Amelio in a scene which advises the Saviors to investigate the explosion with "20 guns" and a barrage of vehicles.
"The narrative itself is incredibly propulsive, and it cuts around quite a bit," showrunner Scott Gimple said. "The characters are all mixed up, and just the circumstance doesn't really dictate this sort of slow... I do not say that in any sort of pejorative way, but this quieter side story with characters. It's just, so much of it is just going forward and working against the clock, and racing each other towards objectives and towards victory."
As seen in the video at the top of the page, the cast is not taking Episode 100 lightly.
Several actors were eager to speak of the premiere's enormity, often sounding genuinely excited to be a part of the episode which aims to put the good guys in charge again.
"From the moment we start, ostensibly to the moment we end," Aaron actor Ross Marquand said. "We're getting the scripts as they come out, of course. It's just going to be a gnarly season. It's going to be a really rough and tumble season that I think a lot of people are going to be very excited to see, myself included."
"It's definitely starting out with a lot of action, that's for sure," Enid actress Katelyn Nacon said. Speaking to ComicBook.com more recently, the actress added, "This episode's like a really big deal. Because it is really big, and it does kind of set up all the events for the next season. It's just that important in the actual series."
Check out a preview of ComicBook.com's interview with Katelyn Nacon in the video at the top of the page and tune into ComicBook NOW on Thursday at 7 pm ET to see more from the Enid actress!
"I just know that we've been really pushing it as far as the action is concerned," Jadis actress Pollyanna McIntosh said during ComicBook NOW. "So, it feels like everybody's blood is really pumping this season. Before there was a lot of questioning and the morality and what are we going to do and how are we going to do it. And I, as an audience member as I was saying before was like, 'Let's do it.' And now we're doing it."
While executive producer Gale Anne Hurd is happy to sing a similar song as the rest of the gang, she also points out an added layer of depth which will come with the All Out War storyline.
"Even though there is a lot of action, it's good to really see our guys fighting back," Hurd said. "And that there's hope, and that they really encourage each other to have faith and fight back. [The episode is] really about setting all of that up for the launch of this season. I know we keep saying this, but we keep proving it to be true, it is the most ambitious episode we have ever done. There are sequences in this that will be... There will be elements shot during succeeding episodes. It's that big."
For more from ComicBook.com's visit to the set of The Walking Dead, don't miss ComicBook NOW this week. Exclusive interviews and bonus content will premiere on Thursday at 7 pm ET, exclusively on ComicBook NOW's official Facebook Page.
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.