The Walking Dead Season 9 is planning a radical departure, and we don’t just mean the imminent exit of star Andrew Lincoln. Rather, after Season 8 showcased the killer climax to an apocalyptic conflagration known as “All Out War,” the series – similar to the comic book source material – will engage in what could be considered a soft reboot, with a time jump to a point in which the bitter conflict rests in the rearview mirror. Now, we know just how far in the future this will take place.
On AMC’s Sunday night preview special for The Walking Dead Season 9 – hosted by Yvette Nicole Brown, who’s warming the Talking Dead center seat for returning host Chris Hardwick – the exact length of the time jump was revealed. While the dais was headlined by new showrunner Angela Kang, also consisting of Ezekiel actor Khary Payton, it was the also-present cast member, Tom Payne, who plays Jesus, who revealed the crucial chronological info that Season 9 will take place 18 months after the events of the Season 8 finale, “Wrath.”
While The Walking Dead is still a television juggernaut that regularly banks ratings that other shows would kill to have, it’s taken major hits in the past few seasons, with the aforementioned Season 8 closer only earning about 7.9 million viewers, which is nearly half of what the series pulled during its Season 5 heyday. Consequently, Angela Kang has quite the lofty task ahead in her attempt to rejuvenate the formerly buzz-heavy hit.
Fortunately, the changes appear to be promising, at least based on the initial images and what’s been shown in the Comic-Con trailer. Indeed, it appears that the series will undergo a much-needed evolution, seemingly manifesting as a more atmospheric drama, with an aesthetic that sees technology – out of necessity of the ongoing apocalypse – scaled back, forgoing the use of gas-guzzling vehicles for horses and wagons. Moreover, the 18-month time jump will see things start in a time of relative peace amongst the neighboring communities, with the defeated big bad in Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan still locked in a cell in Alexandria, forced to witness the era of non-head-bashing reciprocity.
Of course, that’s all going to change quickly when the series introduces an array of new comic-adapted characters such as Magna (Nadia Hilker), the leader of a small group of wanderers who arrive at Alexandria, taking advantage of the offered hospitality, albeit while exercising great caution. Additionally, we’ll meet the next big bad of the series in Alpha (Samantha Morton), leader of the stealthy, animalistic group of survivors, called the Whisperers, who wear walker skin masks and weaponize large herds of the dead.
The Walking Dead Season 9 premieres on AMC on October 7.
Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine Here!