'The Walking Dead' - New Showrunner Talks Season 9, Rick's Departure, Maggie's Future

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04 October 2018

AMC, Oct. 7, 9:00 PM ET

By Kellie Freeze

Angela Kang has been a writer on AMC’s The Walking Dead since Season 2, but for the apocalyptic drama’s ninth season, she’ll be taking over the reins of the hit series as its showrunner. Kang previews Sunday’s season premiere and offers a few morsels about the upcoming departure of star Andrew Lincoln, who has played Rick Grimes since the series began in 2010 and is in a limited number of episodes this season.

Kang tells us that Season 9 opens a year and a half after the conclusion of the war against the Saviors, with scarcity becoming a big issue and the postapocalyptic world starting to fall apart. “We’re exploring what happens when man-made structures start to crumble when nature starts to become a bit of an obstacle in ways that it wasn’t before,” she says. “You’re really seeing human ingenuity in figuring out how to not just survive day-to-day, but build a future for themselves and the children who are being born into the world.”

One of the biggest plot points that Kang faces this season is how to handle the departure of the central character, Rick. Lincoln is leaving The Walking Dead to spend more time with his family, and while Kang won’t divulge when his character is leaving, or if his departure is permanent, she is confident that the sendoff is a fitting one. “We really wanted to do service to his character and tell a story that felt satisfying for the season,” she says. “We really approached it as what feels like an organic part of the story in this time jump.”

Another character who will see limited action this season is Maggie. Actor Lauren Cohan is starring in the upcoming series Whiskey Cavalier, but Kang shares, “We’ve got some tricks up our sleeve with how we’re going to balance Maggie, because we love telling stories for her.”

Kang shares that Rick’s exit opens up opportunities for others to take a more central focus. “We definitely will be seeing a lot more from Michonne [Danai Gurira]. We’ll be seeing a lot from Daryl [Norman Reedus] and Carol [Melissa McBride],” she reveals. “I’m excited for the fans to see the journeys that those characters are taking.”

Season 9 will also show Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in a new light. “We’ll get to see sort of a softer side of Jadis, but we’ll also see there is some mystery and complication to her. And she still has some sort of relationship with this helicopter,” Kang says, adding, “We’ll see Negan grappling with what it means not to be a leader anymore and feeling like, ‘What is your place after the war has ended and you’ve lost?’”
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