SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen the Season 8 finale of “The Walking Dead,” titled “Wrath”
With Season 8 of “The Walking Dead” officially in the books, fans are now anticipating what Season 9 of the AMC series will look like under new showrunner Angela Kang.
Scott Gimple, formerly the “Walking Dead” showrunner and now the chief content officer of the “Walking Dead” universe, will still be involved with the show, but day-to-day operations will be under Kang’s purview. In the new season, he said Kang is taking the show to places it has not been before.
“The newness of the narrative is driven by her vision,” Gimple said. “She’s putting different things forward that we haven’t seen before. And she’s also been working on the show since Season 2, so she knows it inside and out. And even this year, when I was working on [‘Walking Dead’ Seasons 8 and 9, and ‘Fear the Walking Dead’], more and more responsibility went to her, so it’s not like she’s jumping into something she doesn’t know. She knows exactly where all the keys are. She’s completely equipped to do a great job.”
In the Season 8 finale, Rick finally triumphs over Negan and the Saviors, but stops short of killing the man who murdered so many of Rick’s friends. The finale serves as a point of closure for the show’s narrative up to this point, with Season 9 set to go in a new direction, according to Gimple.
“I’ll just say that the show evolves in a huge way,” he said. “They’ll be dealing with things we haven’t seen them deal with before and dealing with each other in ways we haven’t seen before. What they have planned is — it just feels new. It feels like an evolved show. This very much lived in the world that Rick began with. It was so informed by the pilot. It just takes this quantum leap forward in the stories that it tells.” Gimple could not say whether or not that means Season 9 will feature a time jump.
Negan also survives the war storyline in the comics. Gimple says the choice was made to keep him alive on the show partially due to the impact that the comics storyline had on him when he read it.
“When I read it in the book, it was shocking to me and it was something that resounded with me,” he said. “I really liked it when I read it because it was unexpected. It was the right thing for the character, it was the right thing for the world. For what Rick wants, for what Carl wanted before him, it really was the only way forward. The fact that it’s nice to see something like that in an age when everything seems so combative and so aggressive was just the frosting on the cake.”
This season’s finale also saw Maggie, played by Lauren Cohan, teasing a dark turn in the season ahead as she, Daryl, and Jesus plot to undermine Rick for allowing Negan to live. The storyline comes despite the fact that Cohan is still without a contract for Season 9 and has signed on to play the lead in the ABC drama pilot “Whiskey Cavalier.”
“When we did do that, and what Lauren does with that scene is like Michael Corleone,” Gimple said. “It’s so cool. … It was there when Rick said, ‘Save him.’ It’s funny. We were worried when we were shooting it because the emotions when it’s ‘Action’ are real. We thought, ‘Is Danai going to get hit?’ It was difficult because they didn’t want to sit there and have to meter themselves. As far as the other stuff with Lauren, we’re talking about that and we’ll be talking about it soon, but that is in the episode so we plan to tell that story.”
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