'Walking Dead' Stars Preview "Gut-Wrenching" Midseason Finale

The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 6 - Andrew Lincoln - Publicity-H 2017
Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

The Walking Dead stands at the edge of its annual midseason hiatus, but there's no end to the war in sight.

All season long, the AMC zombie drama (which crossed the milestone 100-episode threshold with its season eight premiere) has seen the survivors of the apocalypse steeped in "All-Out War," one of the most violent and memorable arcs from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's comic books on which the show is based. Through the vast majority of the first seven episodes, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his allies held the upper hand, devastating the likes of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors through relentless battle campaigns and a veritable noose looped around the neck of the Sanctuary in the form of a deadly zombie moat, among other tactics. 

But in the most recent episode, "Time for After," the tables started to turn: Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and others on the Alexandria side of the line attempted to accelerate the outcome of the war, and in the process opened the door for a Saviors comeback. By the end of the episode, Rick and his new ally Jadis (Polyanna McIntosh) were left in front of the Sanctuary, the entire zombie moat eradicated, signaling that Negan's forces are about to mount a serious comeback.

What do we know about what's coming in Sunday's midseason finale, "How It's Gotta Be," given where the story most recently left off? The comic books offer some guidance, but as always, while the source material offers a roadmap, showrunner Scott M. Gimple and the Walking Dead writing staff often take detours in their telling of the Kirkman tale — minor and massive alike. Expect nothing less from the coming midseason finale.

Here's what else to expect from the finale, according to several castmembers, who offered up three words (or phrases) each when asked by The Hollywood Reporter to describe the events of the episode:

Andrew Lincoln (Rick): "Watch it live."

Khary Payton (Ezekiel): "An excruciating wait."

Tom Payne (Jesus): "Action-packed, moral quandaries and gut-wrenching situations."

Ross Marquand (Aaron): "Shocking, disturbing and beautiful."

Josh McDermitt (Eugene): "Shocked and surprised."

For their part, both Marquand and McDermitt elaborated a bit more on what to expect from the final Walking Dead episode of 2017.

"It runs the gamut of human emotion," says Marquand. "You're like, 'Whoa... whoa... whoa!' It's one revelation and one terrible, beautiful thing after another. It makes you realize why people tune into this show. It's relentless in its pursuit of all things human and all of the different types of feelings you can feel. You're going to feel all of that [when you watch] this show, and the finale is indicative of that."

"I really do think people are going to be shocked and surprised," adds McDermitt. "I know those two things can seem similar, but I think they will be shocked at where the story goes and is going, and I think they're going to be surprised. This show in its eighth season is still taking risks."

We'll see if the risks are worth the wait when Walking Dead airs its midseason eight finale Sunday. 

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