Earlier today, AMC unveiled the new and redesigned opening credits sequence for its hit drama series, The Walking Dead. The show’s ninth season returns this Sunday, October 7th at 9pm ET/PT, but some teases about the story’s twists and turns already appeared in the credits themselves. They’re the first signal of the changes to come under newly minted showrunner Angela Kang, who took time out of her busy schedule to break down the credits and talk about the upcoming season.
The credits themselves, created by design company Huge, came about as a suggestion from Scott M. Gimple and was something that Kang took to immediately. On her list of themes and motifs were “key moments from the graphic novel … the ways that nature is [taking] over, so there’s like death into life … [and] giant flocks of birds.” The bird motif came about from a pitch that Huge called “Poe”, which is the one that ultimately won out.
Kang spoke with EW about the newly revealed opening credits in order to explain some of the story teasers hidden within. As Kang confirmed, “[We] started also hiding these key objects that our characters from this season as well as past seasons have had, and just like littering the landscape with these objects that are there in various states of decay, or are just sitting there. And some of them are very obvious, and some of them are really just fun Easter eggs that the audience can have fun looking for, because we’re just trying to show a world where these things are just part of the landscape, because it sort of fits with some of the themes of the season.”
As for that windmill:
It’s one of the most iconic images from the comic book, is the windmill that’s in Alexandria. And so, we just loved that as an image because it takes a lot of human ingenuity to figure out in the apocalypse how to build a windmill. And it’s also like they’re figuring out how to use renewable power, and all this stuff.
So, we just love that as a symbol of some of the things that they’re trying to do this season, the way that they’re trying to rebuild everything. But also, we just wanted to always have that reminder that as much as they build, the dead are always there, always coming. And so, it just felt like that was true of the world of The Walking Dead. So we loved that as part of their pitch to end the sequence before we go to titles.
In another chat with EW, Kang also talked about the fallout from the events of recent seasons and how that will affect the relationships among Rick, Maggie, and Daryl. But first, Kang commented on the show’s time jump of “about one and a half years” when the new season premieres:
This is a pretty big shift in story because season 9 really is a new chapter of the show. It was always intended that way, for a long time. [TWD chief content officer] Scott Gimple had always imagined that the end of “All Out War” ends a certain chapter of the Walking Dead series, as it sort of ended a chapter of the comic books. And then true to the structure of the comics, we are starting with a time jump. It’s a bigger time jump than what we’ve had on the series. And it allows us to see what has changed. And obviously there are a lot of changes happening in the season as a whole.
In terms of the look and feel of the show, it’s very different from what we’ve been seeing. Just because the world itself has changed. It’s moving to a much more “horses and wagons and hand weapons and scarcity” type of vibe. And then yeah, obviously we have some major cast changes this year. Both in terms of exciting people that are coming in, and then we know that Andrew Lincoln is moving on from the series this season. And so within the show, we’ll really be exploring what happens with the loss of Rick. And so, that’s a giant story that’s part of the season.
Kang also talked about the integration of the Saviors in this season:
Some of the communities fall, but ultimately they find a series of communities. It’s kind of like the beginning of tribes, and now they’re in a place where it’s like these warring factions have come through the other end of the war, and what do you do next?
[Because] we have the benefit of jumping time, we don’t have to come in right when the wounds are fresh, and when everybody is first healing. We kind of move to a place where they have found a system that largely works. But even like with allied countries or communities that are close to each other, they don’t agree about everything. And the Sanctuary being rebuilt needs a lot of help, and that puts strain on some of the other communities, and that causes some internal problems for our leaders, who are these characters we’ve been following for a very long time.
We really wanted to explore those kinds of dynamics within the communities, and yeah, there is some conflict around the Saviors. We really see, like, there is some graffiti on the wall of people writing, “Saviors save us. We are still Negan.” You see these things that are the signs of discontent among the people. And how do you deal with that? And how do you move forward from that?
Some of the conflicts that will arise won’t just be between factions, but between friends and family members. Kang teased the friction that will come about between our heroes:
Maggie and Daryl entered a pact at the end of the last season. And we know that these are both people who are true to their word. We see that Maggie starts the season in a really good place. Hilltop is thriving, she has her baby. She has found a way to keep going, and to be at peace with herself. Daryl starts off having been helping things at the Sanctuary, but you see that he is struggling with that leadership there.
We see that these characters have figured out how to move on in their day-to-day, but they still carry these wounds from the war. Both of them are people who didn’t agree with the decision to spare Negan. We’ll see that Maggie and Daryl find moments of alliance in the season that I think will be really interesting to see — seeing that relationship between them grow, and we’ll see where that goes. This is definitely a story that we want to play, and be true to the story promise we made at the end of last season.
The highly-anticipated new season of The Walking Dead premieres this Sunday, October 7 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.