The first trailer for Season 9 of The Walking Dead debuted at Comic-Con today, teasing what's likely to be the final season for star Andrew Lincoln and hero Rick Grimes. It'll also be the first season for new showrunner Angela Kang, who takes over for Scott Gimple. Kang is the fourth showrunner on The Walking Dead so it'll be interesting to see where she takes things. We'll be speculating in the paragraphs ahead.
Check out the trailer below first. It's a long one... that never ends... ever... it has like three endings... watch.
Collider first reported Season 9 would be Lincoln's last, and the actor confirmed the news today. He's only expected to appear in a handful of the early episodes so whatever happens with Rick is going to happen fast. (Then again, anything could happen.)
We may have to kiss Maggie goodbye as well. Lauren Cohan has a new show, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, debuting in 2019 and word is she'll be leaving during Season 9 also. Big changes lie ahead for AMC's flagship series. So what should we expect?
The new trailer gives us a lot to think about before the season premiere October 7. The seeming headliner is the brewing conflict between Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus). Knowing Lincoln is on the outs, it's pretty obvious Kang and the rest of her writers will hand the show over to Reedus. A fight is the natural way to go, but would The Walking Dead really make Daryl murder Rick?
It seems inconceivable, but Rick's gotta go. How that happens will be the biggest moment in the show's history. They have to get it right. There's no comic book plot to follow on this one so fans are in for a shocker. That's exciting. Personally, I think Rick will die saving Daryl. They're not going out as enemies.
The trailer presents a post-apocalyptic world in relative peace. Negan is locked up. The Survivors, Saviors, Hilltop, and the rest of the groups are working as one huge community. One of the Saviors even says, "Bless you, Rick Grimes." So expect the first episode to be one of harmony. We'll pretend the world can be rebuilt again, and it'll be fun to see how the characters build some Swiss Family Robinson-style infrastructure. (They steal a covered wagon from a museum! Cool!)
At some point, however, things must go south. This is a horror show after all. As Negan (who cannot shut up, ever) foreshadows, peace won't last. "You think you got all this on lock?" The first sign of conflict in the trailer is Daryl beating a guy with a pot while Carol yells at him to stop. Then it's Daryl in voice-over. "This don't feel right." He obviously hates the Saviors still and that rage is going to spill over in a big way. Rick (and Carl's) dream of true peace will turn out to be more of the pipe variety than actual reality.
Also consider the fact these TWD trailers never show anything outside of the first few episodes of the coming season. That's why the real lead is buried. Yeah, the "community" will quarrel, Rick and Daryl will go at it, a helicopter may bring new possibilities, but the real evil lurking in Season 9 will come in the form of another new group we've only seen hints of so far: The Whisperers.
Near the end of the trailer, Gabriel interviews some new people, asking them who they were before the apocalypse and who they are now. These look like Whisperer spies to me. In Robert Kirkman's comic, the Whisperers' signature is their penchant for disguising themselves in zombie skin. But they can't be covered all the time, right? That girl with the knife at the end of the episode looks like a killer. She's gonna herald the coming of the rest of the group. Maybe she even kills Grimes in his sleep with that little blade. Now, that would be something.
The Walking Dead also confirmed today Samantha Morton (below) will play Alpha, the Whisperers emotionless leader, in Season 9. That's a pretty big addition to the cast. Morton is a two-time Oscar nominee who doesn't need to work in the mud and viscera of a show like TWD. There must've been something about the character that intrigued her. Look for Alpha and the Whisperers to show up sooner rather than later and start wreaking real havoc.
Season 9 of The Walking Dead premieres October 7 on AMC.