The Walking Dead Season Nine finale shows for the first time the survivors contending with another threat: snow. In the wake of devastating losses — Tara (Alanna Masterson), Enid (Katelyn Nacon), Henry (Matt Lintz), and seven other abducted community members were decapitated by Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the Whisperers, their severed heads displayed atop pikes now marking Whisperer territory — Daryl (Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Carol (Melissa McBride) and the newly reassembled communities will have to find a way forward as a ferocious blizzard moves in.
"The last episode has a look to it that we've never done before," Reedus teased on The Tonight Show. "It's a brand new look of the show, it's just phenomenal."
Though creator Robert Kirkman explored winter-set periods in his comic books, harsher winter weather has long been skipped over on the television show due to budgetary limitations that 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," Kirkman 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."
"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," executive producer and chief content officer Scott Gimple told EW in 2015 during his tenure 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."
In 2016, after Gimple said snow finally reaching The Walking Dead would be "special," Kirkman joked the look could be achieved through visual effects. "If we can CGI a tiger," Kirkman said of the computer generated pet tiger belonging to King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), "we can CGI some snow!"
The Walking Dead premieres its Season Nine finale, "The Storm," Sunday, March 31 at 9/8c on AMC.
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