Though it’s been known for several weeks now, the SDCC panel for The Walking Dead was the first time that the cast and AMC have officially acknowledged that Andrew Lincoln will be departing the hit show at some point in the forthcoming season (which, once more, is due to be broadcast starting in October).
With changes in the production personnel behind the scenes, including Lauren Cohan (Maggie) reducing her episode commitment and Angela Kang being upped from executive-producer to show-runner, many are describing Season Nine as a reboot of the main concept. The presentation also included an extensive teaser for the new run which will see something of a time-jump from the events at the end of the last season, reflecting a similar tactic in the original comic source material. Maggie has had her baby, the various communities in the area are beginning to work together and a return to a rule of law rather than mere survival is in its early stages – with many seeing Rick Grimes as the figurehead for this move forward. Others are less happy and see the problems with Rick’s plans – even some of his closest allies may be biding their time to extract their own revenge against those who wronged them – and that includes a still-incarcerated Negan who warns Rick that whatever each of their intentions, things have a habit of falling part.
It is believed that Norman Reedus and the character of Daryl will become more important after Lincoln/Rick’s departure and it’s interesting to note that both Daryl and Carol (Melissa McBride) arguably two of the most beloved characters in the show are not featured in the comic (Carol was killed off earlier in the comics run and Daryl is a creation of the tv show). It was also announced that award-winning actor Samantha Morton will be joining the cast as ‘Alpha’ the leader of a group known as the Whisperers who disguise themselves as the undead… and who could seriously impact Rick’s plans. (Alpha kills several prominent characters in the comic but their respective fates in the show are not known yet).