Season 9 Smartly (& Shockingly) Adapts The Walking Dead Comics
AMC's The Walking Dead often adapts material from the original Walking Dead comics, though typically it'll pull inspiration from the storylines rather than strictly adapting the events. Sometimes that's worked out well, other times it hasn't, but The Walking Dead season 9 is able to strike that perfect balance.
In the first half of season 9, The Walking Dead moves up Maggie's confronting of Negan in order for Lauren Cohen to take part in the crucial scene before leaving the show. But it also gets the ball rolling on Negan's transition into a good guy sooner than that arc begins in the comics, giving Jeffrey Dean Morgan his best Negan material yet by allowing him to play against audiences' expectations. The Walking Dead season 9 also reassigns certain storylines to others, like how Daryl assumes a combination of both Rick and Maggie's roles from these early confrontations with the Whisperers while Henry takes on Carl's role in the arc.
And in the case of Henry, putting him in Carl's place gets viewers involved with his character more quickly, and by giving him enough screen time, his death later on feels appropriately shocking and poignant. The Walking Dead season 9 doesn't just lift moments from the comics for the sake of including them, it works them into the narrative in whatever way best serves the story its telling.
The Walking Dead Finally Became Optimistic Again
The Walking Dead season 9 brought back a sense of optimism about the future, giving its characters a reason to go on living that was more than just surviving through the next fight. In its very first episode, season 9 has the survivors traveling to Washington D.C. not in search of weapons but farming tools and seeds - the very things needed for their communities to grow. The next few episodes focus on them building a bridge, which is a heavy-handed metaphor, sure, but it's indicative of The Walking Dead season 9 being a more optimistic, hopeful version of the show.
Following Rick's disappearance and another time jump, the survivors are a little worse for wear, more isolated and fearful, but The Walking Dead season 9 doesn't wallow in misery. Instead, there continue to be moments that are meant to remind the characters that there is more to life than just staying alive. Jerry and Nabila get married and start a family, and Jerry is beyond giddy when sharing the good news with his king. Henry gets a taste of what it's like to be a real teenager when he sneaks off and gets drunk. Luke is desperate to save musical instruments, wanting to preserve what he can of humanity's pre-apocalypse culture. The fair is itself an attempt at bringing a little joy back into people's lives, with Ezekiel's quest to screen a movie exemplifying that idea better than anything else.
The Walking Dead season 9 brings a renewed optimism about the future - even in the face of new threats that test the survivors as nothing has before. In doing so, season 9 doesn't just make life worth living for its characters, it makes The Walking Dead a show worth watching again.
The Walking Dead season 10 returns this fall to AMC.