With a new series of The Walking Dead launching this weekend, FANDOM takes a spoiler-free look at what’s to come…
Leaving the Past Behind
Heading into it’s ninth season, AMC’s flagship show has been slammed by angry fans and hit by shrinking ratings . It seemed to revel in messing with the fanbase (Glenn’s faked death), and angering them (Season 6’s absurd finale cliffhanger) all in the name of story. Even last season’s “All Out War” — which was a marked improvement — suffered from hectic pacing and lingering arcs. Aside from all that, any show with eight seasons under the belt is bound to need a bit of a jolt.
It’s almost poetic that the Season 9 premiere — titled “A New Beginning,” (the same name as the comic arc immediately following “All Out War”) — also marks the beginning of Angela Kang’s run as showrunner. There won’t be any spoilers here, but it’s obvious from the opening credits that The Walking Dead has a new swagger. The show looks a bit different, in the way it’s shot, directed, and written.
Introducing Laughs and Unique Villains
But most noticeably, it has smiles and it has jokes. TWD has never been a comedy — understandably — but it’s been funny before. The difference now is it feels a bit more genuine. For one it feels earned. The survivors have built a pretty respectable life for themselves in the apocalypse. It’s nice to see them acknowledge that they are in a pretty good place with some smiles, some laughs, and some family time.
Secondly, and most importantly, it’s just a lot of fun. The show’s still tense, the show’s still scary, but it’s been a few seasons since it has been really fun. A lot of that is likely due to Kang.
There’s a unique villain this year too. The show has always been at its best when Rick and the others had a legitimate threat to face (The Governor, Negan), and its worst when conflict was just happening for the sake of it (The Wolves, searching farmland for Sophia). The Whisperers are formidable, a group the show’s excellent effects team can have a lot of fun with, and damn scary.
The Beginning of the End
With all the new beginnings, the new season also marks the beginning of the end. Andrew Lincoln — the show’s lead for the last eight years — announced over the summer that his time on the show was ending in Season 9. Even when the show was at it’s weakest, Lincoln always shined. Fans should be sad to see him go, but they shouldn’t fear it. If there’s one thing TWD’s always had in spades it’s talented actors. Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohen, Melissa McBride, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the list goes on and on. With characters like Rick and Carl out of the picture, the show has a lot more freedom to tell new stories and elevate other characters to new heights.
It’s weird to say this about a show heading into it’s ninth season, but there’s a helluva lot to be excited about if you’re a fan of The Walking Dead.