The first photos from The Walking Dead Season Nine finale reveal Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) among the survivors as they take refuge in a cabin while hunkered down in the face of a harsh blizzard.
While Daryl (Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Lydia (Cassidy McClincy), Carol (Melissa McBride) and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) brave the storm, photos appear to show a handcuffed Negan under the watch of Siddiq (Avi Nash), Rosita (Christian Serratos), Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), and Eugene (Josh McDermitt). Also present are Michonne’s children, Judith (Cailey Fleming) and RJ (Antony Azor). Per its official synopsis:
In the aftermath of an overwhelming loss, the communities must brave a ferocious blizzard; as one group deals with an enemy from within, another is forced to make a life or death decision.
The former Savior leader previously tried to appeal to Michonne in an attempt to convince her he deserves a second chance following an almost eight-year solitary prison term — with the survivors facing their greatest threat yet in the Whisperers, could Negan begin to prove himself a worthy ally?
Negan accompanying the group comes as the survivors must keep moving in the face of unforgiving conditions — as revealed in the season finale promo, the survivors ultimately must venture into Whisperer territory freshly marked by Alpha (Samantha Morton), who used the severed heads of Henry (Matt Lintz), Tara (Alanna Masterson), Enid (Katelyn Nacon), and others as part of a gruesome border marking lines not to be crossed.
“We finally have our frozen zombies. We finally have our winter episode,” finale director Greg Nicotero told THR.
“I’m dying for people to see it. For me, it was one of the most technically challenging things I have ever done in my career as a director and as an effects artist who has to visualize this world. The other big challenge is this: How do you follow something like episode 15 with a season finale? While we were shooting it, we all said that episode 15 felt like a season finale. It was a moment where you want to end the show with people reeling and recovering. Adding a little P.S. on it, with the magnitude of what we did? I think people are going to be blown away.”
Nicotero also teased the season closer brings some stories to an end while setting the stage for Season Ten, due out in October.
“The nice thing about our season premieres and our season finales are setting the table for the seasons to come and the seasons to follow,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good emotion and stories that are wrapped up with some character development and arcs. There are other stories we’re setting up. It has a lot of mood to it. It has a lot of style to it. It feels unlike any other episode we have ever produced. In that way, I think we’re going to have our audience saying, ‘Man, they keep giving us more and more stuff that makes us want to stay tuned. It makes us want to know what's going to happen next.’ As soon as I was told we were going to do snow? I was like, ‘Wow. It’s Georgia. How do we do snow in Georgia?’ We’ll talk about the answer after you see the episode.”
The Walking Dead brings Season Nine to an end Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.