The Walking Dead (season 9)

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The Walking Dead (season 9)
The Walking Dead S9 Poster.jpg
Promotional poster art
Starring
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes6
Release
Original networkAMC
Original releaseOctober 7, 2018 (2018-10-07) – present (present)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 8
List of The Walking Dead episodes

The ninth season of The Walking Dead, an American post-apocalyptic horror television series on AMC premiered on October 7, 2018, and will consist of 16 episodes, split into two parts; each consisting of eight episodes with the latter half airing in early 2019.[1][2] Developed for television by Frank Darabont, the series is based on the eponymous series of comic books by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The executive producers are Kirkman, David Alpert, Scott M. Gimple, Angela Kang, Greg Nicotero, Tom Luse, Denise Huth, and Gale Anne Hurd, with Kang taking over the role of showrunner from Gimple.[3]

Eighteen months after the defeat of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) under an alliance of communities spearheaded by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), the season focuses on the united communities as they face obstacles and dangers both outside and inside their alliance, with the threat of the mysterious Whisperers looming.[4]

The ninth season is the final season for lead actor Andrew Lincoln, who has portrayed Rick Grimes since the series' first season. Lauren Cohan, who portrayed Maggie Greene since the second season, only appeared in the first five episodes of this season due to other commitments.

Cast[edit]

Main cast[edit]

The ninth season features nineteen series regulars overall. For this season, Katelyn Nacon and Tom Payne were added to the opening credits, along with Khary Payton as of the season's sixth episode, after previously being credited as "also starring".[5] Callan McAuliffe and Avi Nash were promoted to series regular status, after previously having recurring roles.[6] Samantha Morton enters the secondary cast as Alpha, the leader of the Whisperers, who will be the main antagonist of this season.[7] This will be the first season not to include Chandler Riggs and Steven Ogg (since their first appearance on the series), and the first not to include Lennie James since he was promoted to a series regular in the sixth season (James did not make any appearance on the series second and fourth seasons), all were credited as either a series regular, guest or a main cast member in previous seasons.

Starring[edit]

  • Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, the protagonist of the series. Rick is a former sheriff's deputy from King County, Georgia, and the former leader of the rebuilt Alexandria. He is coping with the recent death of his son Carl, while raising his daughter Judith with his romantic partner Michonne.[8]
  • Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, a southern redneck and Rick's right-hand man. Daryl is a skilled hunter and a former recruiter for Alexandria. He has been running the Sanctuary since the downfall of Negan.[8]
  • Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene, Glenn's widow, a mother figure to Enid and is the leader of the Hilltop. She is at odds with Rick over sparing the life of Negan, the former leader of the Saviors.[8]
  • Danai Gurira as Michonne, a katana-wielding warrior and Rick's romantic partner. She is also a mother figure to Judith and is the leader of Alexandria.[8][9]
  • Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, a survivor who has overcome several traumas, is a skilled and ingenious fighter, and now resides at the Kingdom as Ezekiel's wife.[8]
  • Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler, a supply runner of Alexandria who served as a liaison to Oceanside and is now at peace with the former Saviors.[8]
  • Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter, a cowardly but intelligent survivor who was instrumental in defeating the Saviors and is determined to win back the group's trust.[8][10]
  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa, a pragmatic member of the group who was the former partner of the now-deceased Abraham.[8]
  • Seth Gilliam as Gabriel Stokes, a priest who has reconciled his beliefs with what needs to be done to survive.[8]
  • Ross Marquand as Aaron, a recruiter from Alexandria who lost his boyfriend Eric during the war, and now raises his adoptive daughter, Gracie.[8][11]
  • Katelyn Nacon as Enid, a survivor of the Hilltop and a daughter figure to Maggie who is learning medicine from Siddiq.[12][13][5]
  • Tom Payne as Paul "Jesus" Rovia, a Hilltop recruiter and Maggie's right-hand man who serves as her voice of reason.[12][5]
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, the former leader of the Saviors who is incarcerated following his defeat in the previous season.[8]
  • Khary Payton as Ezekiel, the charismatic leader of the Kingdom who helped Rick defeat Negan and his Saviors. He is also Carol's husband.[12]

Also starring[edit]

  • Xander Berkeley as Gregory, the arrogant, selfish, and treacherous former leader of the Hilltop who is adjusting under Maggie's leadership.[14][15]
  • Pollyanna McIntosh as Anne, the former leader of the Scavengers (previously known as "Jadis") who has since integrated into Alexandria.[12]
  • Callan McAuliffe as Alden, a former member of the Saviors who had defected to Maggie's group during the war against Negan.[6]
  • Avi Nash as Siddiq, a former vagabond and doctor who was rescued by Carl before his death.[6]
  • Samantha Morton as Alpha, the leader of the Whisperers, a mysterious group of survivors who wear the skins of walkers to mask their presence.[7]

Supporting cast[edit]

Alexandria Safe-Zone[edit]

  • Kenric Green as Scott, a supply runner in Alexandria.
  • Mandi Christine Kerr as Barbara, a resident of Alexandria.
  • Tamara Austin as Nora, a resident of Alexandria and Michonne's friend.
  • Jennifer Riker as Mrs. Robinson, a resident and gardener of Alexandria.
  • Lindsley Register as Laura, a former lieutenant of the Saviors and former gardener of the Sanctuary. She defected to Alexandria after the events of the bridge rebuilding.
  • Matt Mangum as DJ, a former hostile lieutenant of the Saviors and former guardian of the Sanctuary. He also defected to Alexandria after the events of the bridge rebuilding.
  • Chloe Garcia-Frizzi and Cailey Fleming as Judith Grimes, the daughter of Lori Grimes and Shane Walsh and adopted daughter of Rick and Michonne.

The Hilltop[edit]

  • Brett Butler as Tammy Rose, a resident of the Hilltop and wife to Earl.[16]
  • John Finn as Earl, the Hilltop's blacksmith and husband to Tammy Rose.[16]
  • Karen Ceesay as Bertie, a resident of the Hilltop.
  • James Chen as Kal, a protector and guardian of the Hilltop.
  • Peter Zimmerman as Eduardo, a resident of the Hilltop.
  • Anthony Lopez as Oscar, a resident of the Hilltop.
  • Gustavo Gomez as Marco, a supply runner of the Hilltop.
  • AJ Achinger as Ken, a resident of the Hilltop, son of Earl and Tammy.

The Sanctuary[edit]

  • Traci Dinwiddie as Regina, a former lieutenant of the Saviors.
  • Elizabeth Ludlow as Arat, a former lieutenant of the Saviors who has made peace with Rick's group.
  • Chloe Aktas as Tanya, a resident of the Sanctuary and one of Negan's former "wives".
  • Elyse Dufour as Frankie, one of Negan's former "wives".
  • Zach McGowan as Justin, a hostile Savior not interested in working together with the other communities and loyal to the order of Negan's leadership much to the disgust of Daryl.[16]
  • Rhys Coiro as Jed, a rebellious member of the Saviors who also wants to go back to Negan's ideology.[16]

The Kingdom[edit]

  • Cooper Andrews as Jerry, a resident of the Kingdom and Ezekiel's right-hand man who is in a relationship with Nabila.[12]
  • Kerry Cahill as Dianne, one of Ezekiel's top soldiers and a skilled archer.
  • Macsen Lintz as young Henry, a resident of the Kingdom and the younger brother of the deceased Benjamin. Henry forms a bond with Carol.
  • Nadine Marissa as Nabila, a resident and gardener of the Kingdom and Jerry's girlfriend.

Oceanside[edit]

  • Sydney Park as Cyndie, a young woman who has become the leader of the Oceanside community following the death of her grandmother, Natania.
  • Briana Venskus as Beatrice, one of Oceanside's top soldiers, who resents the Saviors.
  • Nicole Barré as Kathy, one of Oceanside's top soldiers.
  • Mimi Kirkland as Rachel, an aggressive young member of Oceanside.

Magna's group[edit]

The Whisperers[edit]

  • Ryan Hurst as Beta, the second-in-command of the Whisperers.[20]
  • Cassady McClincy as Lydia, Alpha's daughter.[21]

Miscellaneous[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date [26]U.S. viewers
(millions)
1161"A New Beginning"Greg NicoteroAngela KangOctober 7, 2018 (2018-10-07)6.08[27]
Eighteen months after Negan's defeat, the various communities are working on rebuilding society, however, the Sanctuary suffers from infertile ground and underlying support for Negan. Rick leads a trek to a Washington, D.C. museum to recover pioneering supplies; on the way back, they find the main bridge to Hilltop has been wiped out by a storm, forcing them to detour. A young man, Ken, is killed while protecting the group's horses from walkers. Gregory, ousted as Hilltop's leader, convinces Ken's father, Earl, to try and assassinate Maggie, but he fails. Rick and Michonne ask Maggie for Hilltop's help in providing for the Sanctuary, but she refuses. That evening, Maggie has Gregory publicly executed for his actions.
1172"The Bridge"Daisy von Scherler MayerDavid Leslie Johnson-McGoldrickOctober 14, 2018 (2018-10-14)4.95[28]
A month after Gregory's death, the communities work together to repair the bridge; several Saviors have gone missing since construction began. After some persuasion, Maggie ultimately decides to deliver food to a starving Sanctuary. A herd approaches the repair crew after Justin fails to sound an alarm, and Aaron's arm is crushed under a log. Daryl rescues Aaron, and Enid is forced to amputate Aaron's arm to keep him alive. Anne and Fr. Gabriel pursue a romantic relationship, but Anne takes note of a nearby helicopter. Rick updates an incarcerated Negan on the bridge's progress, and Negan warns him that his vision will fail. Justin is banished, and on his way back to the Sanctuary, he is abducted.
1183"Warning Signs"Dan LiuCorey ReedOctober 21, 2018 (2018-10-21)5.04[29]
After Justin is discovered dead, Arat goes missing as well, angering the Saviors and postponing the construction on the bridge. Rick asks Gabriel to follow Anne, who is revealed to have been trading people to a mysterious ally in exchange for supplies; Gabriel confronts her, forcing her to incapacitate him. Daryl and Maggie learn that Oceanside has been capturing and killing the Saviors, including Arat, as revenge for killing Oceanside's men; they walk away as Cyndie kills Arat, and they decide to ignore "Rick's way" and confront Negan.
1194"The Obliged"Rosemary RodriguezGeraldine InoaOctober 28, 2018 (2018-10-28)5.10[30]
Jesus tells Rick about Maggie's intentions to assassinate Negan, and Rick tries to delay her entry into Alexandria. Anne plans to send Gabriel away to her mysterious ally, but changes her mind and abandons him instead. The Saviors steal guns and confront Carol over Oceanside's actions; a riot ensues and the gunfire leads a walker herd to the work camp. Rick takes a horse to lead the herd away from the camp, but the horse is spooked and throws him off onto a concrete slab, impaling his torso with rebar and knocking him unconscious.
1205"What Comes After"Greg NicoteroStory by : Scott M. Gimple & Matthew Negrete
Teleplay by : Matthew Negrete
November 4, 2018 (2018-11-04)5.41[31]
Critically wounded and weak, Rick attempts to draw the herd away on horseback. Maggie goes to execute Negan, but after realizing that he is worse than dead already, she abandons the attempt. Rick leads the walkers onto the bridge and apparently sacrifices himself by blowing it up, stopping the herd. Unknown to everyone else, Rick is found alive and rescued by Anne, who contacts her allies in the helicopter and they gather the duo, flying to parts unknown. Six years later, a now pre-teen Judith rescues a new group of survivors from walkers.
1216"Who Are You Now?"Larry TengEddie GuzelianNovember 11, 2018 (2018-11-11)5.40[32]
After much resistance, Judith convinces Michonne to help Magna's group by escorting them to Hilltop. While setting up radio transmitting equipment, Rosita and Eugene are followed by a strangely-acting herd of walkers. Carol takes a now teenage Henry to Hilltop to apprentice as a blacksmith; they are ambushed by Jed, Regina and several former Saviors who steal their supplies. Carol later burns the group alive and takes Henry to visit Daryl, who is now living alone in the wilderness. Negan remains a prisoner in Alexandria but has struck up an apparent friendship with Judith and taken on a less antagonistic attitude.
1227"Stradivarius"[33]Michael CudlitzVivian TseNovember 18, 2018 (2018-11-18)TBD
1238"Evolution"[33]Michael E. SatrazemisDavid Leslie Johnson-McGoldrickNovember 25, 2018 (2018-11-25)TBD

Production[edit]

The series was renewed for a ninth season in January 2018.[34] Along with the renewal, it was announced that showrunner Scott M. Gimple would be promoted to chief content officer for both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, while writer and co-executive producer Angela Kang would take Gimple's role for The Walking Dead.[35]

Filming for the ninth season began on April 30, 2018, with Greg Nicotero directing the first episode of the season.[36] Michael Cudlitz, who played Abraham Ford, directed the seventh episode of the season.[37]

The ninth season features a redesigned opening credits sequence. The animated title sequence, which is graphic novel inspired, features familiar imagery such as Daryl's motorcycle and crossbow, and Michonne's katana. Kang spoke of the inspiration for the new sequence, "The feel of the season has elements of the Western genre. We're paying homage to some of the iconic moments from the graphic novel. Life is coming out of death. Nature's taking over, while other things are crumbling."[38]

Casting[edit]

The ninth season is confirmed to be the final season of series lead Andrew Lincoln.

Most of the cast's contracts had to be renewed for the ninth season and beyond, and most of the cast did re-sign;[39] the notable exception was Lauren Cohan who plays Maggie Greene. Cohan had sought a pay increase from AMC given her high demand from other networks; while she had signed on to star in a new series, Whiskey Cavalier, for the ABC network, this contract would still enable her to participate on The Walking Dead in a limited role.[40] In April, Cohan confirmed she signed on for the ninth season but only for six episodes.[41]

At the end of the eighth season, former regular Lennie James (as Morgan Jones) was moved to The Walking Dead's companion series, Fear the Walking Dead, as showrunner Scott M. Gimple felt there were more stories about Morgan to tell that would be more effective with Fear the Walking Dead's smaller cast and narrative approach.[42] In May 2018, it was announced that Avi Nash and Callan McAuliffe, who joined the series in the eighth season as the recurring roles of Siddiq and Alden, respectively, were promoted to series regulars.[6]

In late May, it was reported that the ninth season would be the final season for Andrew Lincoln, who plays lead character Rick Grimes.[43] Lincoln said that as he lives in England and shooting a season takes six months or more, he believed it was time to leave the series to be able to spend more time with his growing children.[44] However, he has expressed desire to direct an episode in future seasons for the series, and will shadow a director during the ninth season.[45] Lauren Cohan also announced that this would be her last season on the series, appearing in the first six episodes as Maggie Greene before her departure. Alongside other acting commitments, Cohan felt she had become too comfortable in the role, and it was time to move on. She appreciated the opportunity to explore Maggie in her last few episodes,[46] and has not ruled out returning for future seasons based on her future commitments.[47]

In June 2018, it was reported that Jon Bernthal would reprise his role as Shane Walsh for one episode in the ninth season.[22] In July 2018, it was reported that Lauren Ridloff, a deaf actress, would join the series in the ninth season playing Connie, a deaf survivor who communicates through sign language.[19] Also in July 2018, during San Diego Comic-Con, it was announced that Samantha Morton was cast in the series regular role of Alpha, the leader of the Whisperers, a villain from the comic book series. Several other recurring roles were announced as well, played by Brett Butler, John Finn, Rhys Coiro, Dan Fogler, and Zach McGowan.[7]

On October 6, 2018, the day before the season premiere, the showrunners affirmed Bernthal's return as Shane, as well as Sonequa Martin-Green and Scott Wilson returning to reprise their roles as Sasha Williams and Hershel Greene, respectively, at the New York Comic Con.[48] Wilson died later that day due to leukemia;[25] however, according to Comic Book, Wilson had filmed his scenes previously to be broadcast during the first half of the season.[24]

Writing[edit]

Angela Kang stated that the season would include a timeskip, which coincides with the comic's narrative after the "All Out War" arc. She stated that they were aiming to give the series a "fresh look and feel", and "focusing a lot on the core character relationships in the show that have kind of been long-lasting, as well as all of our wonderful series regulars".[49] Kang said that the season would "explore what happened as man made objects and structures break down" and "what happens as resources are getting low", giving the season a Western feel.[50] Actor Tom Payne, who portrays Jesus, said the timejump is about a year and a half from the end of the eighth season, giving enough time for survivors to re-establish farming and livestock raising.[51]

A second timeskip occurs towards the end of episode 5, after a helicopter whisks a wounded Rick to safety. The next scene takes place six years later, when a now much older Judith saves a group of survivors from a ring of walkers.[52]

Release[edit]

The teaser for the season was released on July 19, 2018, the first day of the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con. The trailer was released on July 20, 2018.[53] The ninth season premiered on October 7, 2018,[2] and the episode was made available a day early via AMC Premiere, the network's on-demand service.[54]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The series received positive reviews for its ninth season, particularly credited to new showrunner Angela Kang.

Critical reception for the ninth season of The Walking Dead has been positive so far, with critics noting its improvement over the two previous seasons, but remain cautious if the series can maintain its improved quality for the entire season. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season holds a score of 94% with an average rating of 7.08 out of 10, based on 12 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Nine seasons in, The Walking Dead feels more alive than ever, with heightened tension and a refreshed pace that rejuvenates this long-running franchise."[55] On Metacritic, the season has a score of 72 out of 100 based on 4 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[56] Reviewing the season premiere, Sarah Moran of Screen Rant wrote the episode "feels like the fresh start the series so desperately needs, trading grim wartime for a more peaceful period of growth and reflection" and praised the changes made by new showrunner Angela Kang.[57] Erik Kain of Forbes called the first episode "the best episode since season 6 and better than many in that season as well."[58]

Brandon Davis of Comicbook.com wrote a highly positive review based on the first three episodes, praising the more character-driven narrative.[59] In another review from Comicbook.com, Cameron Bonomolo also praised the first three episodes of the season, writing, "The Walking Dead is now a political drama viewed through the lens of a zombie apocalypse, turning greater focus to more complex character-driven conflict that is at its strongest since the Frank Darabont-led first season." Bonomolo also called the third episode "jaw-dropping" and that it "delivers some of the finest mystery and drama the show has ever seen in its eight-year run."[60] Jeff Stone of IndieWire wrote a positive review based on the first three episodes and gave them an "A-" grade. He called the ninth season a "huge step up for the show" and that the episodes "are as strong as anything the show's done since the heyday of Season 4."[61]

The Walking Dead (season 9): Critical reception by episode
  • Season 9 (2018–19): Percentage of positive reviews tracked by the website Rotten Tomatoes[55]

Ratings[edit]

No. Title Air date Rating
(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
DVR
(18–49)
DVR viewers
(millions)
Total
(18–49)
Total viewers
(millions)
1 "A New Beginning" October 7, 2018 2.5 6.08[27] 1.5 3.26 4.0 9.36[62]
2 "The Bridge" October 14, 2018 2.0 4.95[28] 1.5 3.42 3.5 8.38[63]
3 "Warning Signs" October 21, 2018 1.9 5.04[29] 1.1 2.39 3.0 7.44[64]
4 "The Obliged" October 28, 2018 2.0 5.10[30] TBD TBD TBD TBD
5 "What Comes After" November 4, 2018 2.1 5.41[31] TBD TBD TBD TBD
6 "Who Are You Now?" November 11, 2018 2.0 5.40[32] TBD TBD TBD TBD

References[edit]

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