The Walking Dead season 9 will be "new" and "different" under freshly appointed showrunner Angela Kang, according to Walking Dead executive producer and former showrunner Scott Gimple.
"The newness of the narrative is driven by her vision," Gimple told Variety.
"She’s putting different things forward that we haven’t seen before. And she’s also been working on the show since Season 2, so she knows it inside and out. And even this year, when I was working on [Walking Dead Seasons 8 and 9, and Fear the Walking Dead], more and more responsibility went to her, so it’s not like she’s jumping into something she doesn’t know. She knows exactly where all the keys are. She’s completely equipped to do a great job."
Kang was announced as the series' fourth showrunner in January, accompanying news Gimple would be promoted to Chief Content Officer and overseer of the entire Dead brand for AMC.
Gimple said the longrunning zombie series will evolve come season 9, teasing inner turmoil between Rick Grimes and some of his closest allies.
Where exactly The Walking Dead heads next is in Kang's capable hands, but all Gimple could say was the show "evolves in a huge way."
"They’ll be dealing with things we haven’t seen them deal with before and dealing with each other in ways we haven’t seen before," Gimple said of the usually tight-knit pack of survivors, now spread throughout Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom.
"What they have planned is — it just feels new. It feels like an evolved show. This very much lived in the world that Rick began with. It was so informed by the pilot. It just takes this quantum leap forward in the stories that it tells."
That new direction potentially could include Lauren Cohan's Maggie Rhee scheming to undermine Rick Grimes' decision with Negan, possibly hinting at a darker turn for the farm girl turned de facto Hilltop leader.
Whatever happens next, it will be partially fueled by Rick's decision to keep Negan alive and head into season 9 with a refreshed worldview as the heroes attempt to instill some civility back into the world.
"When I read [Rick's decision] in the book, it was shocking to me and it was something that resounded with me," Gimple said.1comments
"I really liked it when I read it because it was unexpected. It was the right thing for the character, it was the right thing for the world. For what Rick wants, for what Carl wanted before him, it really was the only way forward. The fact that it’s nice to see something like that in an age when everything seems so combative and so aggressive was just the frosting on the cake."
The Walking Dead is expected to debut season 9 this fall on AMC.