The Walking Dead’s callbacks seem like the end of an era

Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

On The Walking Dead the end of All Out War will usher in some big changes for the show. Lately it seems like the show is wrapping up one era before starting a new one.

Throughout season 8 The Walking Dead has been dropping callbacks and Easter eggs all over the place. Some of those were to celebrate the show reaching the milestone 100th episode in the season 8 premiere.

But in the back half of season 8 there’s been a lot of callbacks to important characters and pivotal moments. During Carl’s last day on earth and the subsequent episodes there have been references and mentions of the past. There were some very poignant ones in last week’s episode Still Gotta Mean Something’.

The title itself could be a reference to the belief that The Walking Dead world where death is a daily reality dying for something, like the people you love, is a “good death”. But there were other callbacks in the episode too. Like the poignant reference to Sophia and her death in the way that Carol saved Henry in the creek. Or when Morgan told Henry not to be sorry, which is what he told Carl back in season 3’s Clear episode.

But these aren’t ordinary callbacks and nothing that writers do on this show is without meaning. It feels very much like the show is saying goodbye to the original era of the show as it prepares to head off in a brand new direction. With a new showrunner taking over and the death of a major character this season it seems like they are preparing us for a whole new incarnation of the survival story that fans love so much and paying homage to the characters and the moment that made it what it is.

The Walking Dead 2.0

The Walking Dead is getting ready to break new ground again when new showrunner Angela Kang takes the helm in season 9. And that’s not a small thing. The Walking Dead is the most successful genre show to ever have a female showrunner.

Even though Kang has been with The Walking Dead almost since the beginning she will bring a new perspective and a new style of storytelling to the show. And most fans feel that it’s time for a new showrunner. Whether they are angry at Scott Gimple for killing off Carl or just feel that the show has gotten stale many fans are ready for the start of a new era.

The End of The Beginning

In many ways the death of Carl feels like an ending even more than the end of All Out War. There were a lot of fans who assumed that Carl would be the one standing at the end of this journey. And now that isn’t going to happen. The story in its original form is over. Because the heart of that story was Rick searching for his family and then protecting Carl.

So it’s fitting for them to wrap up this season by remembering characters like Andrea and Sophia and Dwayne, Morgan’s son. These characters, and their stories, shaped the journey so far. We should never forget their role in this ever-changing story.

But The Walking Dead will go forward. There are still stories to tell. And that’s exciting. Morgan will be joining Fear The Walking Dead. Possibly other characters could crossover in the future. And who knows how the new showrunner will interpret the story and what new characters and storylines will fill the space that Carl left behind? The possibilities are intoxicating. But also, bittersweet.

Next: The Walking Dead 814: Best fan reactions to Still Gotta Mean Something

So when All Out War ends in The Walking Dead season 8 finale it will bring more than the war to a close. All Out War has been a thrilling and terribly sad storyline and it’s time for it to end. But always remember the characters and stories that got the survivors to where they are now.