The Walking Dead is officially set to return a week from today, although subscribers to AMC Premiere subscribers can watch the midseason premiere a week early and without commercial interruption starting today. The series is coming off of arguably its most tumultuous and precarious period since its opening season. Rick Grimes, the lead character, permanently exited the series (though, he will make a series of movies), one of its most popular and longest-running characters, Maggie Rhee, also left the series, and her return is in doubt. The two-and-a-half year conflict with the Saviors finally came to an end. The show also gained a new showrunner in Angela Kang while its former showrunner, Scott Gimple, has been put in charge of The Walking Dead Universe and figuring out how the flagship show fits into it.
Despite all the changes — and, in part, because of them — The Walking Dead managed to gain back its mojo in the front half of season 9. The ratings for the series, after nine years, aren’t what they once were, but the series still has some zombie magic and what appears to be plenty of gas left in the tank. After two time jumps, the introduction of several more characters, and the death of another major presence (Jesus), The Walking Dead has found a creative resurgence and now, with a new threat looming, it’s looking for some stability.
Granted, no one is safe on The Walking Dead and I expect that will never change, but The Walking Dead needs to get back to what it does best: Emotionally investing in its characters, endangering their lives, and occasionally taking one from us while hopefully maintaining a core set of fan favorites like Daryl, Michonne, Carol, and Negan.
As the series heads into the back half of season nine, however, it’s worth remembering what’s at stake and what’s in store for the series as we piece together where it’s headed.