The final two episodes of The Walking Dead Season Nine bring the zombie drama into new territory, Daryl Dixon star Norman Reedus said Friday on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. "The next episode, bring some Kleenex. It's gnarly. It's so heavy, the next episode," Reedus teased of Sunday's penultimate episode of the season. "The last episode has a look to it that we've never done before."
Sunday's 915, "The Calm Before," brings with it overwhelming losses when King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) of the Kingdom assembles Hilltop, Oceanside, and Alexandria for the first time in years amid a growing threat stirred by Alpha (Samantha Morton) and Beta (Ryan Hurst) of the Whisperers. In the season finale, "The Storm," the survivors will then contend with a ferocious blizzard, marking the first time The Walking Dead has depicted harsh winter weather onscreen.
Executive producer Scott Gimple previously said he would be "shocked" if the television series never underwent snowfall, remarking in 2016, "It would be special if we did it."
"In the comics, the seasons have been represented — not all the time, but there's been some really notable moments in the snow and even in autumn really. That's a challenge for us, we're thinking about it and figuring it out," Gimple told EW when serving as showrunner. "Nothing could be further from winter than our shooting schedule. That's a challenge, and there are certain things we balance. Just being able to make the show is a challenge."
Creator Robert Kirkman, who has set portions of his Walking Dead comic book during winter with snow-covered or frozen walkers, once explained budget made snow "impractical."
"The idea was that [walkers] would kind of freeze in place and be preserved over the winter, and when things thawed out, they'd just kind of come back to life and go about their business," he said aboard Walker Stalker Cruise 2018. "So yeah, we haven't been able to do that in the show because it's impractical to cover Georgia with snow in the summer time. Don't quite have the budget for that."
But The Walking Dead has worked around those limitations, and viewers will get their first taste of snow in Sunday's "The Calm Before." The communities will then brave a blizzard in the season finale, which sees one group dealing with an enemy from within while another is forced to make a life or death decision.
The Walking Dead premieres "The Calm Before" Sunday, March 24 at 9/8c on AMC, followed by its Season Nine finale Sunday, March 31.
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