If last season of The Walking Dead was ‘all out war’ then Season 9 is all about rebuilding .. and saying goodbye to a couple of beloved characters.
Season 8 brought the tribulations of Rick and Negan to a head, ultimately surprising fans (those unfamiliar with the comics, at least) when Rick, in an attempt to honor his son, spared Negan’s life. Although his actions brought temporary peace to both camps, Maggie was incensed by Rick’s decision, and the final moments revealed the beginnings of a schism between the saviors and the settlers at Hilltop, Alexandria, and elsewhere that is bound to carry far reaching repercussions going forward.
AMC teases the following for the season ahead:
It is a time of relative peace among the communities as they work together, looking to the past to forge the future, but the world they knew is rapidly changing as man-made structures continue to degrade, and nature takes over, changing the landscape and creating new challenges for our survivors.
As time passes, the communities confront unexpected obstacles, danger, and of course, walkers, but nothing quite prepares them for the formidable force they are about to encounter, which threatens the very idea of civilization that our survivors have worked so hard to build.
However, with the news that series lead Andrew Lincoln is leaving the show, along with Lauren Cohen’s Maggie, and that Norman Reedus’ Daryl will step up into a leadership role, many fans are wondering how exactly season 9 will shape up.
Here, an upbeat Andrew Lincoln talks about his final season playing Rick Grimes on the iconic show, those big changes ahead, and how Rick Grimes will bow out.
“Season Nine is the show I always hoped we’d get to when we shot the pilot,” says Lincoln of the episodes ahead. “It’s the version of the show in tone, in look, in feel, that I always thought the future would be. It’s lo-fi. There are not thousands of bullets. We are running out of things. We are on horseback. It’s cowboys and zombies.”
“There is something happening that is very dark and very bad, and we don’t know who is doing it. The mechanics of the scripts move quicker and they complete rather than carry over. You are satisfied within the episode, which is reminiscent of season one. We are losing things, not gaining things. Everything is much more dangerous. That puts an enormous amount of jeopardy and pressure on this group that we haven’t seen in a long time. We’ve been fighting this war for two and half seasons. Suddenly, it’s much more about humans and the un-dead again, which is where we began the show.
However, before we see this new threat evolve, things will go well initially, despite the presence of Negan within their walls, albeit as a prisoner.
“You find Rick and Michonne joined in this endeavor to try to rebuild civilization, and really doing well,” he explains. “They’ve unified the communities, but there is still remnants of Negan. There is a lot of tension. The future that Carl and Rick and Michonne wished for isn’t paradise.”
Last season, after months of carefully plotting Negan’s demise, and going to quite a dark place in doing so, Rick made what some people felt was a last minute decision to spare Negan’s life. Looking back, was that the right decision to have made?
“Rick had to make this decision to let Negan live for the sake of his own sense of morality,” says Lincoln. “He had to honor his son’s dying wishes. Rick believes we can only have civilization if Negan lives, keeping him alive in a cell for the rest of his life. Whether or not it’s the right decision, only time will tell.”
If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to check out the new trailer for the season ahead, you can do so below. In it, we see Rick back where he began — on horseback in Atlanta.
“This season has been extremely nostalgic for me,” says Lincoln of his final episodes. “Being on horseback in Atlanta again was really a trip down memory lane. When we did it before, no one blinked an eye with 300 zombies chasing me on a horse. Now, it was a little different, but was no less fun. It’s been an amazing ride.”
On the exact nature of how Rick Grimes will depart the show, Lincoln is coy. “As always, in all the other big deaths on this show, you are carried through the characters who are left. No one is more important than the story.”
Despite his departure, the actor is filled with nothing but praise for his time spent on the show. “I love this show. It means everything to me. I love the people who make this show. I’m particularly fond of the people who watch this show. This has been the most extraordinary, amazing, and beautiful experience of my career. We are deeply, deeply proud of the work that we have done this season. [Showrunner] Angela Kang is astonishing and leading with such class and a light deftness of touch. It’s enabling us as actors to really breathe and deepen the relationships on screen. My relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over. A large part of me will always be a machete-wielding, Stetson-wearing, zombie-slaying, Sheriff Deputy from London, England…but it’s time for me to go home.”
The Walking Dead returns for Season 9 on October 7, on AMC.
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