Set photos have revealed the first look at the characters of The Walking Dead season 9, which brings exciting new appearances for Rick Grimes and his band of tight-knit survivors.
The photos, captured by TMZ, show the series shooting in deserted Atlanta streets — with Rick and crew riding in on horseback. Visit the link to TMZ for the high-res photos.
Downtown Atlanta is likely substituting for Washington, DC, a scant eight-something miles away from Alexandria, Virginia, which hints at both a trek back towards civilization and a likely significant time jump.
Robert Kirkman's comic book series underwent a two-plus year time jump following the conclusion of All Out War and the defeat of Negan and his Saviors, skipping ahead to a post-war era aligned with Rick's promise of a new world.
The appropriately titled A New Beginning catches up with a nearly unrecognizable Alexandria: the community, rebuilt since its devastation following the Saviors' explosive attack, is lush with new people, crops, and structures, one of which houses a long-bearded Negan in its jail.
Characters ride horseback and by horse-drawn carriage, both spotted in the set photos, which also show off a comic book-accurate look for Rick Grimes, whose look has been rehauled to include short hair and a thick — but neat — grey beard.
Also completely overhauled is Father Gabriel, who appears to have gone blind in his right eye, and who dresses like an old school Southern preacher — think the black suit and accompanying hat worn by the evil Henry Kane in Poltergeist II — looking like a badass Amish preacher.
Gabriel can be spotted riding shotgun in a horse-drawn carriage piloted by Jadis — who revealed her real name to be Anne — who is dressed down and regular-looking, having dropped her trash queen act.
Other set photos reveal Aaron, with burly beard of his own, and Alden — the good Savior among the Hilltop's batch of prisoners — is seen riding alongside Rick and crew, having seemingly integrated into the group.
Also spotted in the set photos are Jesus, with slicked back hair pulled into a bun, and Carol, boasting a shorter hairstyle.
Also spotted are Maggie, Michonne, King Ezekiel, Siddiq, Tara, Enid, and Cyndie of Oceanside — suggesting the former outcasts have either integrated into the wider network of communities or have at least found themselves aligned with Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Kingdom after standing against the Saviors in the season 8 finale.
Set photos released online Wednesday offered looks at intriguing new locations and a season 9 casting call is seeking actresses for girlfriends Yumiko and Magna, who both made their first appearance in The Walking Dead #127 — the start of A New Beginning.
"From the things said in the finale, there's a bigger ambition now, a bigger thing that they're chasing," Gimple said. "It isn't just regular, everyday survival, which they've become quite adept at. It's what to do with that. Now they're going after civilization."
Under newly minted showrunner Angela Kang, Gimple explained, "sort of a sophistication comes into play."
"It's going to be a very, very different season," the EP told TV Line, "with a very, very different drive."
The Walking Dead is expected to return with its season 9 premiere this October on AMC.
Season 9 filming has begun!!#amc #thewalkingdead #twd #andrewlincoln #rickgrimes #normanreedus #daryldixon #stevenyeun #glennrhee #lenniejames #morgan #laurencohan #maggie #jonbernthal #shanewalsh #christianserratos #rositaespinosa #chandlerriggs #carlgrimes #emilykinney pic.twitter.com/X7HOBZKOKu— The Walking Dead Cast and memes (@twdcastandmemes) May 4, 2018
just saw these walking dead season 9 photos ... what the absolute fuckery pic.twitter.com/T0VQxCZbZU— megs (@cherrypeletier) May 4, 2018
New picture of Danai and TWD cast filming The Walking Dead Season 9 pic.twitter.com/FX3ZGtG49U— Danai Gurira Updates (@GuriraUpdates) May 3, 2018
#TWD #Cast on set. I'm worried. Maggie has LONG HAIR. Rick's Hair Gone;he looks Older. Is this POST TIME JUMP? I'm looking 4 Judith but look at #JADIS & GABE! More below! @LaurenCohan @mcbridemelissa @kharypayton #twdfamily #TheWalkingDead #walkingdead #filming #Atlanta #Georgia pic.twitter.com/yunpWOuGWf— Mïšţý ????? (@Tha_Mist) May 4, 2018