What The Three Cast Promotions On ‘The Walking Dead’ Tell Us About The Eighth Season

The Walking Dead lost three regular cast members last season (Steven Yeun’s Glenn, Michael Cudlitz’s Abraham, and Sonequa Martin-Green’s Sasha), so it’s only natural that the series would elevate three recurring cast members to series regulars. Like SNL, new cast members are often treated as “featured” players for a season or two on The Walking Dead before being elevated to repertory cast members, or series regulars.

This year, those promotions go to Steven Ogg, Katelyn Nacon, and, surprisingly, Pollyanna McIntosh, according to Variety.

Having survived the seventh season finale, it’s not too surprising to see Steven Ogg — who plays Simon — promoted. Among the Saviors, the charismatic Simon has quickly become a fan favorite on the series, and on some weeks, the actor — famous for providing his voice to Grand Theft Auto — is the MVP of The Walking Dead. His elevation also suggests that Simon’s partnership with Gregory (played by Xander Berkeley, who was elevated to series regular last season) may play a large role in the upcoming season.

Meanwhile, several wondered why Katelyn Nacon — who plays Enid on the show — wasn’t elevated to series regular last season. Nacon will likely help fill the hole left by Sasha’s death at The Hilltop, especially now that Gregory is gone. In fact, at this point, The Hilltop is being led by Maggie, Jesus, and Enid and a sea of red shirts.

The surprise promotion here is Pollyanna McIntosh, who plays Jadis in the series. She’s the leader of the junkyard scavengers, a group that doesn’t come from Robert Kirkman’s original source material. At the end of last season, Jadis double-crossed Rick, sided with Negan, and barely made it out of Alexandria alive. Presumably, she will be working with Negan and helping to shore up his alliance in the oncoming war between the Saviors and Alexandra, The Hilltop, and The Kingdom.

To my disappointment, one actress I was hoping to see elevated into a full-time role, Sydney Park, who plays Cyndie, a resident of Oceanside who seemed eager to join the war against Negan, did not get a promotion. The addition of Park — who is Korean and African American — also would have helped provide some diversity balance to the series, which saw the exit of an Asian character and a Black character last season, while all three of the new series regulars are white.

It doesn’t mean, however, that Park — or the other Oceanside residents — will not make an appearance in season eight. With the junkyard scavengers now joining the Saviors, Rick is going to need all the help he can get.

The Walking Dead will return in the fall, barring any complications from a potential Hollywood writer’s strike.