The upcoming ninth season of AMC’s long-running zombie drama The Walking Dead arrives later this year, with a few changes in store. The series has a new showrunner, with Angela Kang taking over from Scott Gimple, and it will be the final season for long-time star Andrew Lincoln. We now have a first image from Season 9, and a few details about the plot.
The image comes via Entertainment Weekly. It shows Michonne (Danai Gurira) on horseback, pulling what looks like a carriage behind her. Check it out below:
In an interview with EW, Kang provided some context for the image and confirmed that the new season will be doing a time-jump, just as the Walking Dead comic book did at the same point in the story. “We’ll explore what happened as man made objects and structures break down,” she said. “Infrastructure like roads and bridges are changing and crumbling. And we’ll also explore what happens as resources are getting low.
“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.”
Kang also indirectly addressed the departures of Lincoln and potentially co-star Lauren Cohan, who has played Maggie since Season 2. While she didn’t name them specifically, she did hint at some big changes in store. “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,” she said. “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.”
The news about Lincoln broke last month, and he is only expected to star in a handful of episodes in the new season. In addition, Cohan will also appear in a reduced number of episodes. In March, it was reported that she was holding out on signing the contract for Season 9 in order to improve her deal. Although she did ultimately sign on for the next season, Cohan will only appear in six episodes, as she is also filming the ABC drama Whiskey Cavalier.
The Walking Dead Season 9 premieres on October 31. Although the show is still popular, viewership for Season 8 was well down from the record-breaking audience numbers that it has enjoyed in the past.