‘The Walking Dead’ preview: Top 5 things you need to know before the Season 8 premiere

Season 8 of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is set to premiere this Sunday, October 22. The series is moving into an action-packed story arc from the comics called “All Out War.” That title should tip you off as to the content of this upcoming season. Given that it’s been months since Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang graced our screens, you will be forgiven if you’ve forgotten where we left Alexandria, along with its allies and enemies. So here are five important story elements to ponder before “The Walking Dead” shuffles back into our lives.

Shifting Loyalties – One of the biggest shocks from last season was Eugene (Josh McDermitt) aligning himself with the Saviors. At first, the cowardly scientist seemed to buddy up with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) for protection, but he gradually grew to love the power that came with his position. He gave Sasha the lethal pill she used to end her own life, but it’s unclear if Eugene could ever rejoin Alexandria or if he is lost forever to the dark side. On the other hand, Dwight seems to want Negan dead after years of serving as the psychopath’s right hand man. He left a note admitting that he had no idea of Negan’s alliance with the junkyard gang, signalling he is still on Rick’s side. If Dwight is telling the truth, he could be Alexandria’s key to winning the war.

New Alliances – Our heroes spent most of last season split up among different settlements. The Kingdom’s King Ezekiel invited Morgan (Lennie James) into his ranks. Over at Hilltop Colony, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) focused her grief over Glenn to become a respected and level-headed leader. Rick was able to gain the favor of these two communities and unite them against The Saviors. When Alexandria was under attack, Ezekiel and Maggie lead their fighters into battle to drive back Negan’s forces and win the day. Can the combined forces of these three groups overtake the militarized Saviors? The secrecy of their alliance was an advantage before, but now Negan will be coming for all of them.

Gregory’s Plan – How anyone as inept and pathetic as the disgraced Hilltop leader Gregory (Xander Berkeley) could survive so long is almost beyond comprehension. But this weasel lives on and could continue to be thorn in Maggie’s side. Gregory appeals to Negan’s lieutenant Simon (Steven Ogg) and receives a map to The Sanctuary. It is assumed that this is where he is driving to at the end of the season. Gregory has already tried and failed to kill Maggie once, and if he has the power of Negan on his side, he will almost certainly try to reclaim his home from Mrs. Rhee. Hopefully Maggie is able to put an end to Gregory before he can tell The Saviors about the secret tunnel entrance to Hilltop.

A Wild Card – One community not officially involved with Rick’s war efforts is Oceanside. This all-women group wanted to stay out of the war after deadly encounters with The Saviors. Tara (Alanna Masterson) led Rick to their location and raided their armory by force. Their leader Natania (Deborah May) would have killed Rick’s team, but the younger Oceansiders overruled her, seeing the war as a worthy cause. Will Natania carry a deadly grudge for Tara? None of the Oceanside characters appeared in the comics, so the outcome of their story is truly unknown.

Carol’s Back – Everyone’s favorite apocalyptic warrior Carol (Melissa McBride) spent most of Season 7 living as a hermit. Her confidant Daryl (Norman Reedus) lied to her about the deaths of Glenn and Abraham, afraid for her mental state should she discover their deaths. A distraught Morgan would later reveal the truth, which saw an emotional Carol finally take up Ezekiel’s offer to move into the Kingdom. She was last seen slaughtering Saviors at Alexandria, so we know she is ready to fight and kill for her family again. But can she forgive Daryl, her closest friend, for hiding the truth? Fans have clamored for a “Caryl” relationship for years now, and how the pair deal with this betrayal could either be what sparks a romance or officially kills any hope for love.

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