There are a lot of big questions going into “Walking Dead” Season 8: Will Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group finally defeat Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)? What was the deal with “Old Man Rick” in the Season 8 trailer? And most importantly, why the heck do the junkyard people talk so funny?
Viewers were a little baffled after being introduced in Season 7 to Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), whose group we know as the Scavengers, and the peculiar way they speak. At most, the apocalypse has been going on a few years, so how is it they all seem to talk like 5-year-olds?
HuffPost caught up with “Walking Dead” producer David Alpert at New York Comic-Con on Friday, and he explained there’s actually some logic behind the strange speech patterns.
“Sometimes in different groups, people develop their own speech patterns and habits, and once you’re sort of cut off from pop culture, radio, television, etc., and you’re not hearing other people talk that way, I think you would find—the way that there used to be much more local accents—the same thing would happen in the apocalypse,” he said.
Alpert continued, “It’s like our Cockney slang. That’s what happens.”
Jadis herself also chimed in on the mystery to Comicbook.com. McIntosh believes the Scavengers’ leader could speak that way for intimidation.
The group doesn’t look like they have much going on besides hanging at the dump all day. Why not have a different way of speaking, especially if it could possibly intimidate another group? You know, even if it’s this …
Alpert continued to talk “Walking Dead” with us, previewing the new season and admitting, yes, the show knew it was trolling us with that Season 8 trailer.
In “Walking Dead,” there’s a popular theory that Rick has been in a coma this whole time. The Season 8 trailer seemed to troll people on that, showing “Old Man Rick” waking up in bed. Was there some thought behind that?
There might’ve been sort of an awareness and a wink and a nod, but the footage and the imagery that came out of the show was done, disconnected from that, and then it was sort of like, “Oh, maybe we can use that in a way.” But the image, the storyline came from something entirely different.
The Season 8 premiere is also Episode 100. Did you do anything different this year because it’s a milestone episode?
I always think every season premiere is a big deal. When you combine it with Episode 100, you combine it with the way the seventh season ended, I think you can see we’re setting ourselves up for some pretty huge and amazing things. I think this year, yes, it’s going to be a bigger, badder, more intense episode than you’ve seen in a long time.
“Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman has said Rick can die in the comics. Could the show continue after his death, if that were to happen?
I love Andy Lincoln, and I think Andy Lincoln’s really been sort of the core pillar of the show, but at the same time we have such a diverse cast. We have episodes that really succeed without him, so I don’t want to imagine a world where there’s no Andy Lincoln in my life. But I think it’s certainly possible, and one of the core tenets of the show has been everybody’s replaceable. Anybody can go at any moment, and we have to challenge ourselves to think about that otherwise we couldn’t do anything.
Has it been more difficult to kill major characters as the show has gone on?
No, I think the thing is that we set up really that everybody is expendable. Other shows I’ve worked on, killing off main characters is a really big deal. Here, everyone sort of knows it’s the gig.
What about Sonequa Martin-Green? Was her character’s storyline adjusted because she’s starring in “Star Trek” now?
I think it went the other way around as we came to that resolution with her, and I love her. She’s not just an amazing actress, but one of the best people I’ve ever met. Her husband works on the show, too, and so to say goodbye was awful. But then the fact that she goes to be the lead on “Star Trek,” it also feels good that we — I’ll take a dot of credit — that we sort of helped launch her, and she’s in a place where she’s a franchise character [and can] carry a show, and that’s amazing. But to say goodbye to her, that’s awful.
There were some mixed messages last year about the violence in “Walking Dead” possibly being toned down. Is that the case?
No, no, we let the story dictate the needs of the show. We’re not gonna respond —when you think about it, [when] the episode comes out, all the other episodes are in the can, so you can’t go back and be like, “That scene was too bloody.” So it actually technically doesn’t work that way. But more importantly, we know that our fans want to see the show expressed in an honest way. If we come in and there’s no violence in our show, it’s not our show, and we don’t think our fans would tune in.
You also have a new show, “Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics.” What can we expect from that?
We’re at this point now where comic book culture has really taken off, where I feel like there’s so many TV shows and so many movies and so many video games that are based on comic books, but people don’t really know the stories behind them. Who made Wonder Woman? Why’s that man so fascinating? How did Marvel get started? And what’s minority representation like in comic books? We dig into a lot of those stories and bring them to life because the truth is the stories behind the scenes are often more interesting than what’s on the page.
What can fans look forward to in Season 8?
I think we’re really getting to that point where we’ve been building and building to this big confrontation, and the fans of the comic book will know when we talk about “All Out War,” what that big poster means. We’re getting to that place where we’re really going to start unleashing, taking production to a whole other level. The conflict, the scale and scope is going to be bigger than we’ve ever seen before. Honestly, the stuff we’re going to show this year, I don’t think has ever been seen before by our fans, and I think it’s gonna be pretty darn exciting.
More tiger. Tiger is gonna be this year’s cowbell.
“The Walking Dead” Season 8 premieres Oct. 22 on AMC.