The Walking Dead let its explosive story point fly in the penultimate episode of its ninth season, something fans haven't been trained to expect. Typically, the milestone narrative beats have been reserved for premiere or finale episodes within the AMC zombie drama but new showrunner Angela Kang shook things up in favor of quality-pacing.
Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season Nine follow. Major spoilers!
In its Episode 9x15, The Walking Dead carried out the long-awaited "pike" sequence in which the Whisperers eliminated a large number of survivors from the Alexandria, Kingdom, and Hilltop communities by putting their heads on pikes to mark their territory. It was an unexpected moment with an additional episode remaining, considering events like Negan's introduction, fighting the Governor, and even Beth's death had previously happened in finale, premiere, or mid-season episodes.
There was a reason for the change, though. "When we started working on the season, the original expectation was, 'Yeah, that's going to happen in the finale.' But, as we got into it, it really felt like I wanted to keep the pace of the story moving," Kang told INSIDER. Looking back, it seems like Kang made a smart play, as none of the episodes in Season Nine have particularly been dubbed "filler" episodes by the fans.
"It just felt like we would be treading water for an episode if we waited until the finale," Kang added. "We would've came out with something cool to put in there, but I was like, 'It just feels like we're ready like an episode early.'"
Kang has done her fair share of shaking things up on The Walking Dead. Though it wasn't her doing, both Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan exited the series in its ninth season. In her first year as showrunner, Kang took this obstacle and used it as an opportunity to open new creative doors for other unexpected moments and character developments.
"I think playing with the rhythms of the show a little bit is always good. It contributes to the sense of surprise," Kang said. "It also gave us the opportunity to do something really different. I was really excited about the idea of doing snow. I knew it would be kinda an ambitious thing, but it gave us a chance to do sort of an unexpected type of final episode."0comments
The differences by comparison to earlier beats of The Walking Dead's narrative will continue in Season Ten as the Whisperers naturally come with striking differences versus previously villains. "The Governor and Negan were behind walls, you knew where their community was. There was no chance of getting away from them in some way. They just were where they were," Kang notes. "It's going to be an interesting and unusual way in which our people will have interactions with Whisperers, because they are a nomadic group. So, that kind of puts them in a different category of an antagonist or a hero."
The Walking Dead returns for its tenth season in October. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season on June 2. 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 on Facebook.com/ComicBookNOW.