The Walking Dead's new showrunner, Angela Kang, claims that she isn't saving the comic books' best material for later. Currently airing its ninth season, The Walking Dead has been on a downward slope in terms of viewership in recent times, posting some of the lowest figures in the show's history. Despite this, Kang's debut run at the helm has attracted a more positive critical response and AMC have announced plans for a trilogy of Rick Grimes-focused movies as part of their ongoing vision for the future of the franchise. The main series itself was also recently renewed for a tenth season.
At the time of writing, The Walking Dead is adapting the Whisperer arc from the comic books. This story introduces a group of enemies that wear zombie skins and mingle with the dead in an attempt to live a more primitive lifestyle than the residents of Hilltop, Alexandria and the Kingdom. However, comic readers will know that there is plenty of compelling material to come in the series, including the introduction of the Commonwealth, a shocking character allegiance and the emotional return of a long-lost child character. With so many juicy storylines yet to feature on TV, some fans are concerned that falling viewership could result in the show's cancellation before these moments hit the screen.
In an interview with Insider, showrunner Angela Kang stated that while she isn't taking The Walking Dead's future beyond season 10 for granted, the show doesn't plan to hold back its best material for a later date. Asked whether she was treating season 10 as the show's final bow, Kang replied:
"It's kind of just amazing that we're going into the 10th season. It's certainly a milestone that most people never get to cross and we're so grateful to the fans around the world that have been on that journey with us. I'm approaching it as 'I've got to make a great 10th season.' I can't assume anything... You can fall into a trap, just planning ahead and saving the great material for later. We always have to approach it as — we got to put the good material in now."
One of the biggest criticisms leveled at The Walking Dead over the years has been its occasionally lumbering pace, barely quicker than that of the show's titular undead. As such, Kang's suggestion that the show will seek to adapt its best stories as soon as possible, rather than holding them in reserve for possible later seasons, will likely come as very welcome news indeed to viewers. In the past, TWD has featured several non-comic filler arcs, while landscape-shifting stories such as "All Out War" were held off. This sense of complacency arguably contributed to the show's current ratings issues.
With that said, there's only so much material any show can fit into one season without feeling rushed. It has been widely speculated that The Walking Dead season 9 will conclude with the "Community Fair" story, during which the conflict against the Whisperers truly begins. If this is the case, then at least half of the forthcoming season 10 will surely be taken up with the "Whisperer War" arc. If Kang speaks the truth however, TWD may then move straight into the Commonwealth material without any letup in intensity.
The Walking Dead continues with "Bounty" February 24th on AMC.