The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang has given new details on big changes in store for the show in season 9, including the promised time jump. After the Old Man Rick tease at the start of season 8, many fans were expecting The Walking Dead to execute a time jump similar to the one that happened in the comics at the close of the story's "All Out War" arc. While season 8 did include many dramatic developments, including the death of Carl, the anticipated time jump was not among them.
But now, with its own version of "All Out War" wrapped up and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) safely imprisoned, the Walking Dead TV series will in fact follow the comic book's lead by jumping ahead in time, as new showrunner Angela Kang recently confirmed. In addition to the time jump, season 9 will also include the departure of star Andrew Lincoln, whose exit is sure to provide the show with an emotional moment. Lauren Cohan will also see a reduced role in season 9, leaving her character Maggie's future very much up in the air (Cohan's final departure has not yet been confirmed, though it seems inevitable).
Thanks to Kang, fans of The Walking Dead now know a little more about what's in store for season 9, including what the coming time jump means. Speaking to EW, Kang dropped a few select details, as well as a new image, about how things will play out in what is shaping up to be a turning point season for the long-running series. Calling season 9 "a new chapter," Kang explained:
“We’ll explore what happened as man made objects and structures break down. Infrastructure like roads and bridges are changing and crumbling. And we’ll also explore what happens as resources are getting low. There’s a fun Western vibe that has emerged. We are going into a period where a lot of the things that we’ve seen in previous seasons have broken down, so they’ve got these horses and carriages that are being drawn around instead of cars. Things are lit with oil lamps. People are using different kinds of weaponry. There’s a real grittiness to it that I think will be fun and fresh for the viewers.”
This "new chapter," where the old technologies the survivors have been counting on for the past eight seasons finally start to crumble, was set up in season 8 when Georgie handed over her book of "secrets" to the Hilltop in exchange for a crate of vinyl albums. That book will allow the Hilltop to build windmills and other vital bits of old school technology to help them cope in a new world where horse-drawn carriages and oil lamps have become the norm. In keeping with the "new chapter" theme, thanks to a recently released piece of key art, it appears The Walking Dead is also heading to Washington, D.C. for its new setting.
Such drastic changes are probably to be expected given the ratings slump that has beset The Walking Dead over the past two seasons. But will these story shakeups be enough to resurrect the show, or has the series in fact become a zombie itself? At the very least, it sounds like Kang has a plan to really move the story forward after two seasons devoted mainly to the conflict between Alexandria and the Saviors. Of course, not all these changes are things that Kang necessarily would have freely chosen. Lincoln's departure, as well as the diminished presence of Cohan, will be tough pills for fans to swallow regardless of what other developments Kang and her team offer up. Perhaps the brief return of Shane will make up for some of that.