Life after Rick Grimes was an intimidating and brand new process for The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang.
With Andrew Lincoln exiting the AMC zombie show five episodes into its ninth season, Kang was burdened with delivering five strong episodes which felt brand new to the series before softly rebooting the show once more with Episode 9x06. As fans saw on Sunday night, the show is quite different, as both Rick and Maggie are gone and six years have past for the characters who remain.
It was a lot of fun, but also it’s just very daunting. Rick’s departure was so huge," Kang told EW. "Then episode 6 was almost like piloting a whole new show while still trying to keep the DNA of the show that we’ve been watching for so many years. I know all the actors had such a great time just collaborating on the looks, and the hair. We had a conversations about like, 'Well, let’s talk about what this character looks like six years in the future?'"
One of the biggest changes was Melissa McBride's Carol dropping her short-hair and taking on some serious length.
"Danai [Gurira] and Melissa [McBride] had these great ideas on what to do with their hair that we were able to design," Kang said. "We worked on costumes, using the comic book as references for stuff like Jesus’ look, which we’ll see in these episodes going forward, then also just stuff like was just fresh for the show. That part of the process was definitely a lot of fun. The production design team did such an amazing job bringing to life some of the looks from the comic, while still using some of the stuff that’s specific to the show. We’ve got this windmill that’s a big deal from the comic book that our production designer had the great idea to build it on top of one of the bombed-out houses. That was kind of specific to the show’s mythology."
Of course, with the survivors who Rick left behind came a new group which includes Magna, Connie, Kelly, Yumiko, and Luke. According to Kang, these new faces are very similar to the ones fans already know.
"They’re very similar to our characters in that they were able to survive a long time on the road," Kang said. "They’re very tight-knit. They are a group that considers themselves a family. In that way, there’s more a parallel to our characters than totally different. But at the same time, because they are their own unique individuals, and they’ve done things their own, and they’ve been out there a lot longer, there are some differences. They’re incredibly capable, like our people are, but there’s a scrappiness to them that they’ve maintained over years because they haven’t found that kind of place to call home for a long time."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season in 2019. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes.