‘The Walking Dead’ Stars Talk Season 9 “Reboot”

The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan describe the upcoming ninth season as carrying a new western vibe and an almost-reboot feel under newly minted showrunner Angela Kang.

"She's always been my favorite writer, I've always said that," Reedus told told Variety at San Diego Comic-Con. "The whole train is run by women this year, so it's a different vibe. I said it [during the Comic-Con panel], there was a lot of chest-bumping, guys-vs-guys and whatever [in Season Eight]. But this year, it's more sentimental, deeper-rooted storytelling, it feels like."

After an oft-criticized Season Eight — its past 16 episodes are the second-lowest run in The Walking Dead's history with 66 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, second only to Season Seven's 62 percent — the Daryl Dixon actor said the show is new and improved under Kang, who took over showrunning duties from five-season showrunner Scott Gimple.

"She's breathed new life into this show, in different ways that we didn't expect. She's killing it," Reedus said. "Every episode this year feels like a western, it's awesome. I know we come here every year and we say our show's better this year, but it really is better. It is better this year."

"It feels better this year. It's just nice having a different perspective. I think she's been part of this Walking Dead world for seven years, and now to have her kind of running the show, it seems extra collaborative this year," added Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays the since-incarcerated former Savior leader Negan. "It's a reboot almost of the show — with all the people that you obviously have fallen in love with through the years — but it feels different. There's just a different vibe, certainly for the first time since I've been here. It's cool, it's a great feeling and I think it is, it's got a very western kind of feel to it."

Kang has served as a writer-producer on The Walking Dead since its second season in 2011. She takes a wheel formerly steered by Gimple, who has since been elevated by AMC to the position of chief content officer for the ever-expanding Walking Dead brand.

The Walking Dead's refreshment comes as the show shifts into a new era, both with the closure allowed by the ended All Out War arc — Negan and his Saviors were defeated in 8x16 after two-and-a-half seasons as the driving threat — and by the can't-be-helped departures of series vets Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan, both expected to be gone before the midway point in season 9.

Over a year after Morgan's ousted Savior leader was imprisoned by Rick Grimes (Lincoln), the survivors have erected a wider community network — incorporating survivors at the Sanctuary and the isolated Oceanside — and the living are now working towards recreating society.

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"There's a fun Western vibe that has emerged," Kang told EW. "We are going into a period where a lot of the things that we've seen in previous seasons have broken down, so they've got these horses and carriages that are being drawn around instead of cars. Things are lit with oil lamps. People are using different kinds of weaponry. There's a real grittiness to it that I think will be fun and fresh for the viewers."

The Walking Dead Season Nine kicks off Sunday, October 7th on AMC.