After the devastating turn of events in Sunday's penultimate Season Nine episode, in which Alpha (Samantha Morton) murdered ten survivors and displayed their decapitated heads on pikes marking Whisperer territory, The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang teases another swerve to come in the season closer.
When dishing to EW, Kang explained the horrific discovery of the pikes originally belonged to the season finale — when the season was in the earliest stages of development — before the decision was made to instead go out on the aftermath of those traumatic losses, to play out as the survivors next contend with a ferocious blizzard for the first time on screen.
"I kind of felt like, 'I don't want it to be the final moment, but it's probably in the finale,'" Kang said.
"And that's the assumption we went on for a long time. But as we worked on it, we found that it's everybody's expectation. And one of the big things I wanted to do this season is kind of play with the rhythms of our storytelling a bit here and there so that maybe the things are happening at times that you don't expect it to happen, so there's a little bit of an element of surprise for the audience. I also think there's something interesting about, 'Here's this gigantic thing that happened,' and then, 'What happens next?' And seeing a taste of it."
Then, Kang teased, "I'm gonna take a little bit of a left turn in the finale, too."
The finale sees Daryl (Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and grieving couple Carol (Melissa McBride) and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) among the travelers still reeling from the loss of the pike victims now forced to venture into Whisperer territory amid the harsh winter storm.
"So we just thought that this would be an interesting way to go about this story," Kang continued.
"Because we've seen our people go up against enemies. We've seen them go to war. We know kind of the rhythms and what that looks like. And we wanted to explore like, 'Okay, well the Whisperers are a completely different group than we've ever encountered before. What's different about if something like this happens when it's the Whisperers involved?' So we thought that we wanted to tell the beginning of that aftermath here."
The Walking Dead brings Season Nine to a close Sunday, March 31 at 9/8c on AMC.
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