'The Walking Dead' Season 8 Is Loaded With Nods To Previous Seasons

With a major milestone arriving in the form of Episode 100 for The Walking Dead will come a number of references and tributes to the journey thus far.

While on set of The Walking Dead's Season 8 premiere which happens to be the show's 100th Sunday night installment, Comicbook.com heard from the producers of the AMC series. Each was eager to reveal that Episode 8x01, which has since been titled "Mercy", will be packed with nods to previous seasons and episodes.

"That's just a straight yes," showrunner Scott Gimple said. "Even in the whole season. In a lot of ways this whole season pays, in some moments, very, very, exactly what you said: Direct references to the past stories."

Those references will come in various forms. "Some visuals that are carbon copies of earlier visuals, and it very much just has to do about the cumulative nature of the story," Gimple explains. "I'll just say weighing upon each character, or in some ways you see how it's made them who they are. Or in other ways, how they might be fighting that history. But the history of the show in general, yeah, very much in the first episode, and even the whole season."

The episode, of course, is directed by series veteran Greg Nicotero. Nicotero joined the show in its earliest days, quickly rising to an executive producer position, and has directed some of the most memorable episodes along the way.

"There's going to be some moments that people who have watched the show from the beginning will see and be like, 'Oh, okay. I see what they're doing here,'" Nicotero said. "By paying tribute to specific moments over the last seven years. But, you know, we're always cautious about that because you don't want to take people out of it. There are probably two or three sequences in the first episode that I was particularly excited about doing, that people will instantly recognize it. That's an instance when it's okay that they recognize exactly where it's from because we want them to remember that particular moment."

Nicotero does advise, however, some of those reference will require fans to keep their eyes glued to the screen. "Some of them might be a little more obvious and some of them might be super subtle," Nicotero said. "You'll see."

Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd sang the same tune. "There'll be Easter eggs for sure," Hurd said. "Absolutely. Especially for the fans who may know the show almost as well, if not better, than we do. They'll definitely appreciate quite a few of those."

Part of what is allowing the writers and directors to have a little fun with the references in the Season 8 premiere is the lack of delivering something similar to Season 7's start. Where the premiere a year prior had to reveal the identity of Negan's victim in brutal fashion, Season 8 starts on almost the opposite scenario. Rick is bringing the fight to the Saviors and the gang is excited to deliver an exciting episode.

"What's awesome is there's always an inordinate amount of pressure," Gimple said. "Season four was my first year as show runner, so there's pressure just in that. Season five we ended them in a train car. I don't know, something happened at the end of season six. So, that might have provided a little pressure on the premiere after that.

"This year, we had the 100th episode so, it's funny. I was actually in some ways trying to make it... I was trying to make it a little smaller, a little more intimate. I made the mistake of telling Greg [Nicotero] and [executive producer] Tom Luse. So when they got the script, they were horrified not to see small and intimate, but how are we going to do this in nine days? Yeah, I was trying to counter the pressure and go in a different direction, but there's a certain pull to the story, and to the characters. It got very big, very quickly, but in a bit of a different way, I will say."


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.

The Walking DeadSunday at 9PM EST on AMC

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