By now, it’s no secret to anyone who follows The Walking Dead that Danai Gurira will be leaving the series next season. She is also expected to have a “reduced role” in the tenth season, but according to showrunner Angela Kang, Gurira’s character will still have an outsized role compared to her screentime.
There’s no word on a specific episode count, as there was with Andrew Lincoln going into the ninth season, but it sounds as though Kang plans to build Gurira’s tenth season storyline around the actress’ availability, according to Deadline. “Well, we are going to be doing some creative things with the order in which we write and shoot things so that she’s sort of woven in a little bit,” said Kang. “With Black Panther, Avengers and plays of her own and everything, I think Danai obviously is having an amazing career moment. She’s like an international treasure.”
In other words, it sounds as though Gurira’s storyline may be worked in across the entire season — or at least the front half — in potentially shorter increments leading up to her big send off. Kang seems to confirm that suggestion by saying that Michonne will be a “significant” player in season 10, and that she will have a “nice, meaty story” and another one one of those “giant Michonne episodes” like “Scars,” the flashback storyline near the end of season nine.
It is also expected — all of her other projects notwithstanding — that Gurira will not be leaving The Walking Dead universe in the near future, as she’s likely to join Andrew Lincoln in the Rick Grimes spin-off movies. What’s doubly interesting about that — and probably an interesting challenge for Scott Gimple, the architect of The Walking Dead universe — is that Grimes’ storyline may relate back to the upcoming fifth season of Fear the Walking Dead before weaving back into the tenth season of The Walking Dead.
How does that happen, given the fact that Fear is behind about six years on the timeline? I suspect Fear may help develop the backstory on the helicopter. The helicopter obviously existed before the time jump, and it’s possible that it traveled as far away as Texas to pick up its human abductees. It may also be possible that Dwight was ensnared by the helicopter and escaped, only to find himself in Texas with the Fear gang. Likewise, clues about the helicopter situation could also be provided in Althea’s stash of videotapes.
What’s interesting is that Scott Gimple began seeding a helicopter into the series potentially as far back as November 2017, presumably before there was any though to Andrew Lincoln or Danai Gurira leaving the series. Has there been a plan in place this entire time? Or did Gimple and Co. seed the helicopter way back when and finally find a use for it once Lincoln decided to leave the series?
Some of these answers may be forthcoming, but viewers will have to tune into Fear the Walking Dead when it returns in June and The Walking Dead when it comes back for its tenth season late this year. With the expanding The Walking Dead universe (there’s also another spin-off now) and the expanding Breaking Bad universe, I’m just waiting to find out whether Jesse Pinkman was responsible for the zombie outbreak.