The ninth season of The Walking Dead is nearly upon us, and with it comes the looming prospect of living in a world without Rick Grimes. Andrew Lincoln, who has been the face of AMC’s massively popular zombie series from episode one, is out after this season, and with the character’s departure, it seems like the entire world of The Walking Dead is in for a shake-up. A new extra-long trailer for the latest chapter teases a terrifying concept in a universe of animated corpses and blood-thirsty scavengers: Stability!
“It wasn’t that long ago we were fighting just to stay alive,” Lincoln intones in voice-over to open the trailer, speaking to his former nemesis and current inmate Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). “But it’s not like that anymore. We’re building. We’re growing. Still ready to deal with this world on its own terms.”
This heavy prophesizing is also intercut with footage of Rick lopping off walker heads with a baseball bat while riding a horse, so there’s a little bit for everyone here. There’s not much in the way of The Whisperers—the spooky skin-wearing crew that seems to be this season’s main human antagonists—but the trailer does heavily tease conflict between the OG Walking Dead survivors and this new apocalypse-suburb aesthetic. Namely, Norman Reedus‘ Daryl Dixon. “That small group we had back in the beginning, we could do anything,” Daryl tells Rick. “That was right. This don’t feel right.”
It’ll be interesting to see just how The Walking Dead says goodbye to its longest running protagonist (and how the returning Jon Bernthal plays into the proceedings). This is The Walking Dead, after all, and characters don’t usually leave the show pretty. But with such a pre-premiere emphasis on Western themes—horses, carriages, pop-up civilizations in the middle of nowhere—I feel like there’s a chance we might finally watch a Walking Dead character ride off into the sunset.
Check out the trailer below. The Walking Dead season 9 premieres on AMC Sunday, October 7.