In addition to the casting changes The Walking Dead fans can expect in season 9 — Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan’s departures (maybe), as well as the return of Jon Bernthal and the elevation of Norman Reedus — we’ve also learned a few details about the forthcoming season from new showrunner, Angela Kang, including confirmation of a time jump.
We can also glean a few details from the new poster for season 9 of The Walking Dead beyond a few changes in hairstyles.
The two most notable items from the season 9 poster are the change in location — that’s the Washington D.C. capital in the background — and the existence of a helicopter over Michonne’s shoulder. The D.C. capital is new to the series and — for the most part — was not a fixture in Robert Kirkman’s source material, although Alexandria itself is fairly close to Washington D.C. The existence of the D.C. capital, the death of Rick Grimes (expected before the midseason break), last season’s death of Carl Grimes, and the expected departure of Maggie all point toward a season 9 that strays far from the source material, meaning that The Walking Dead under Kang’s stewardship may completely break away from Kirkman’s comics (notwithstanding the casting notices for two people who fit the description of characters in the Whisperers War).
It is odd, however, that we haven’t heard about casting for two major characters in the Whisperer War — Alpha and Beta — which suggests that The Walking Dead may be punting that to season 10 or skipping it all together in favor of original storylines that center on Rick and Maggie’s exits. Moreover, once they depart, the series is likely to elevate not only Daryl but Carol, as well, and with Jadis (now Anne) taking on an expanded role in the upcoming season, much of season 9 will focus either on characters departing from the series who are still in the comics or characters who are not in the comics (or are long dead, like Carol) taking on larger roles in the series.
We can also add this cryptic tweet into the mix.
One might believe that this tweet refers to the exit of Andrew Lincoln, but that seems like a done deal. I suspect that it refers to the departure — or lack thereof — of Maggie. I think, instead of leaving, she’s going to take a reduced role and possibly relocate to another settlement. That, I believe, is where the helicopter may come in — we’ve seen that helicopter several times. With Maggie either pregnant or with child (depending on how long the time jump is), and her on the outs with Rick Grimes (who may be killed by Maggie), I think it’s possible that she relocates to the Commonwealth to raise her and Glen’s baby and potentially reappear in season 10 or 11 (depending on how things shake out on her ABC series, Whiskey Tango).
What is almost a certainty in season 9, however, is that much of what transpires will be new to comic readers, which should make season 9 more unpredictable than it has been in years.
We’ll find out more when The Walking Dead cast appears at Comic-Con on July 20th and AMC releases the season 9 trailer. The series, meanwhile, will return in the fall.