Spoiler-free review of The Walking Dead season 9 premiere

Seth Gilliam, Pollyanna McIntosh, Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, Avi Nash, Alanna Masterson. on The Walking Dead.Photo by Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
Seth Gilliam, Pollyanna McIntosh, Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, Avi Nash, Alanna Masterson. on The Walking Dead.Photo by Jackson Lee Davis/AMC /

The Walking Dead returns for season 9 on October 7 and it will have a new look and feel that helps launch the show into a whole new world.

Seasons change, and when the leaves turn colors and start to fall from the trees fans know it’s time for The Walking Dead. This time around the show has gone through a change, like the leaves on the trees. 18 months have passed since All Out War came to an end. Communities have been rebuilt. New leaders have stepped up. If there was one word to describe The Walking Dead’s ninth season it would be “change,” and in this case, the change is so good.

Before we jump into talk of the new season, it’s important to acknowledge that it has been a stressful hiatus for fans of The Walking Dead with the news that Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan will be leaving the show in season 9. How can the show move forward without Rick Grimes? Should the show move forward without him?

Enter new showrunner Angela Kang.

There was a moment during the season 9 preview show that really resonated with me. Prior to the preview show and the release of the trailer at SDCC, I was feeling uncertain about The Walking Dead’s future like so many of my fellow fans. But then I watched the preview show, and I saw Kang’s passion for the show. She’s a true fan, first and foremost. This isn’t just a job for her. She’s dedicated to getting it right, both for the integrity of the story and for the TWD Family.

Let me tell you, Kang got it right.

From the very first moments of the season premiere, the new season feels fresh and new without losing the familiarity of the cast that we’ve grown to love. The group has a confidence that has been missing for a while now, especially when their collective spirit was being squashed by Negan and the Saviors. Rick’s confidence is reaffirming after seeing him beaten down for so long, and it’s especially welcome given his impending departure from the show.

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The time jump is immediately evident. Not only is the passage of time reflected in the characters, but it’s reflected in the world around them. The communities have been rebuilt. They’re thriving. It’s a brave new world out there, one wholly unlike anything we’ve seen previously. However, even with all of the positive developments, Rick and the other members of the group are still working to adapt to their new normal. Adapting isn’t easy, and there are still dangers lurking around every corner.

When it comes to dangers, the walkers in season 9 are arguably the most terrifying we’ve seen since the early seasons. Whether it’s due to the progression of time or the fact that the group is venturing into new territory, the walkers are scary again. For a while it seemed like the walkers were more of an annoying distraction than a threat, and that’s not the case in season 9. They’re still a major threat and that’s not likely to change for a long while. The walkers are also incredibly creepy; there’s a scene in 901 where the terrors of running into a walker are coupled with everyday terrors and it just works so well. (I can imagine Greg Nicotero having a field day with that one!)

Next. Episode titles for The Walking Dead season 9A revealed. dark

To be perfectly transparent to the TWD Family, Season 9 of The Walking Dead will look and feel a lot different than previous seasons. After spending two seasons mired in battle with the Saviors, this is a good thing. Angela Kang and her team are taking the show in a new direction that feels very natural without taking away the elements that fans have come to love. If anything, my biggest takeaway from watching the first few episodes of season 9 is that all of the things I have been missing from the show are back

They’re back in a big way.

And it’s pretty damn awesome.

The Walking Dead season 9 premieres October 7 at 9pm on AMC.