When The Walking Dead Season 9 premieres later this year, fans should expect lots of change. That was probably obvious when we at Collider broke the news that Andrew Lincoln would be leaving the show in the upcoming season, but some striking new details have been revealed about Season 9, and the world will look quite different. EW has debuted the very first The Walking Dead Season 9 image, which finds Michonne (Danai Gurira) on horseback leading the group in a very scaled down manner.
Indeed, the “bare bones” aspect is by design, as new showrunner Angela Kang tells EW that Season 9 will involve a time jump, and we’ll start to see the infrastructure of the land breaking apart:
“We’ll explore what happened as man made objects and structures break down. Infrastructure like roads and bridges are changing and crumbling. And we’ll also explore what happens as resources are getting low. There’s a fun Western vibe that has emerged. We are going into a period where a lot of the things that we’ve seen in previous seasons have broken down, so they’ve got these horses and carriages that are being drawn around instead of cars. Things are lit with oil lamps. People are using different kinds of weaponry. There’s a real grittiness to it that I think will be fun and fresh for the viewers.”
The Walking Dead Season 9 begins a new chapter for the show in a number of ways. Kang takes over as showrunner for Scott M. Gimple, who had run the show since the back half of Season 3 and is now shifting to an advisory role over the entire Walking Dead franchise—which includes Fear the Walking Dead and other potential spinoffs. While The Walking Dead was known in the early days for its revolving door of showrunners—creator Frank Darabont was fired halfway through Season 2, and Glen Mazzara was fired in Season 3—since Gimple’s appointment it’s been consistent. So this is a significant change that may also breathe new life into the series.
Then of course there’s the departures of Lincoln and Lauren Cohan. Lincoln is only expected to be in a few episodes of Season 9 before signing off for good, and ditto Cohan who has a new series on ABC called Whiskey Cavalier. Saying goodbye to The Walking Dead cast members isn’t a new notion, but Lincoln anchored the series when it began, so his absence will be deeply felt.
Kang was mum about specifics, but did say that Rick Grimes’ utopian vision may not exactly pan out as planned (shocker)
“We’ll see our group together working in unity in a lot of ways, but you’ll also see some changes in the way that they deal with each other. In some ways, you’ll see that the vision has succeeded beyond anybody’s wildest imagination. But you’ll also see the cracks in that.”
We’ll no doubt learn more from the show’s Comic-Con panel next weekend. The Walking Dead Season 9 premieres on AMC in October.