Keeping the cast together is a good idea, as we saw from the much-improved second half of the season where the group reunited to start planning the takedown of Negan. And now that we’re heading into full-scale war with Negan, it makes sense that we’re not going to be splintering the cast into tiny groups again.
This isn’t to say that the show can never do this, as there have been some solid episodes that have utilized just a handful of characters (The Tyrese/Carol “look at the flowers” episode being the one that immediately comes to mind), but last season that formatting was definitely overused, and you can see it even in other low-rated episodes, ones focusing just on Beth (Slabtown) or Beth and Daryl (The Still). Still, there are a few full-cast episodes that have been disliked if they were just flat-out boring, as well.
AMC is already starting to play some games with teasing season 8. They’ve already teased “Old Rick,” which may signify a time jump, or just be a red herring as a dream sequence to mislead comic readers. And the other day, an executive producer said “Maggie’s baby will not be born in season 8,” which I interpret to mean that the time table will be moving too slowly for that to happen, but some are predicting that means she or the baby die. I doubt that (though they know that phrasing is purposefully tricky), and I think it’s more likely we will get our time jump, and The Walking Dead will skip the “Judith years” and go straight into Maggie having a 3-5 years old when season 9 returns.
I am definitely looking forward to what will hopefully be a more cohesive season where the cast stays together more often. That wasn’t the only thing wrong with season 7, but it certainly was a major issue, and I’m guessing AMC learned a few lessons from it.