Home > Opinion > The Walking Dead: 3 Reasons to Keep Watching, and 3 Reasons to Walk

The Walking Dead: 3 Reasons to Keep Watching, and 3 Reasons to Walk

The Walking Dead season 9 premiere is tonight. Are you going to watch it or walk?

The Walking Dead Season 9 premiere is tonight, and there’s been lots of pre-screening speculation – both good and bad. Undoubtedly the show is trying to reinvent itself, with lots going on behind the scenes to further expand its already heavily expanded universe.

Why does it even need reinventing? That’s a good question, and one that would probably be answered differently by every type of fan. Yet, if you looked at the show with unbiased eyes – purely from a ‘get more viewers and keep the old ones’ standpoint – you could narrow it down to a couple of glaringly obvious reasons. Firstly, the incredibly slow and unrewarding pace/plot of last season, which pissed lots of people off; and secondly, the fact that integral, much-loved lead actors that have already left, or are now leaving the show for good.

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Fan favorite Glenn (Steven Yeun), about to meet ‘Lucille’ – in one of the many moves that truly pissed fans off. Source: AMC

These big changes and stinging disappointments – past, future, and present – really don’t mean you should just stop watching TWD though – not yet. The show definitely has massive salvage potential if things are done right from here on in.

Things happen, actors leave, writers have silly ideas, producers put leverage on writers and directors to push their own agendas – and knowing this, hopefully, The Walking Dead team has put together a kickass upcoming season, and moving on from that, let’s hope they can get past the BS that more often than not plagues film sets afflicted by severe change, and actively continue smoothing out any past faults; in turn giving us the viewers solid reasons to forgive and forget.

Still…this is going to have to be the absolute MOTHER of all seasons for that to happen. Another lackluster season like the last one will undoubtedly be the end of the road for many former diehard fans.

AMC released a premiere TRAILER for the upcoming ninth season of The Walking Dead during the show’s comic con panel in San Diego recently. The teaser is titled ‘A new beginning.’

Let’s hope we get a worthy one huh?

Here are 3 reasons why we are going to give TWD one last chance, and 3 reasons why we might disappointedly walk after season 9’s secrets are finally revealed…

Walk: Andrew Lincoln (Rick) is leaving.
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The unf*ckwithable Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is leaving the show. Souce: AMC.

Andrew Lincoln (Rick) revealed he would be leaving The Walking Dead so he could spend time with family back in the UK. However, despite the 45-year-old blaming his personal life for his decision, his castmate Tom Payne (Jesus) believes Chandler Rigg’s (Rick’s on-screen son Carl) exit also helped make up Andrew’s mind. He said: ‘I think when Carl died last year and Chandler left, I think that was a moment for him of: “OK, where does this leave Rick? And how does he move forward? I think that was a pause for thought.”

Despite fans being surprised by the move, Chandler himself seemed to have foreseen it. Speaking to Metro.co.uk the former Walking Dead star said: ‘When I heard I honestly wasn’t too surprised because we talked about him leaving for a while. He misses his family.”

Fair enough. Rick must be written out, and no one can begrudge Andrew Lincoln this, but no one is really happy about it either (except maybe Negan).

His departure leaves a monumental gap in the show. How Rick is killed/written off, and who they get to replace him, will be a pivotal decider for many fans ready to permanently walk. Will it be done right? Will he be replaced appropriately?

After the news of Lincoln’s departure, there was an extensive survey held on The Walking Dead sub-Reddit, with 44% of fans claiming they would stop watching the show after Rick’s exit and only 15% wanting Daryl to be the lead, behind Negan (40%) and Judith (20%).

Negan as lead? That’s very interesting – and that could work.

For many though, the unf*ckwithable Rick Grimes makes The Walking Dead tick. Surely the show cannot function without him? We’ll have to wait and see.

(Andrew Lincoln, at Comicon, did say that even though he is leaving, he is far from done with Rick – so don’t lose all hope).

Stay: Jon Bernthal is set to reprise his role as Shane Walsh
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Jon Bernthal returns as Shane in season 9. Source: AMC.

As Rick is leaving, an old face is being re-projected into the limelight. News on how long Jon Benthal (Shane) will be on are still sketchy, however, given the fact that Rick’s former best friend died in season two (Rick killed him), and that The Walking Dead is no stranger to flashbacks, dream sequences, and hallucinations – they could pull this off, and pull it off well – maybe?

It’s our guess Rick will be seeing Shane as he’s about to die – and all will be forgiven as he walks to the light. Maybe a flash of Carl there too? Who knows.

It’s great to have the man who now plays The Punisher back in the show, and is definitely something to watch for, but will it be enough to smooth over such heavy casting losses? All we know is, we have to see how this all pans out.

Walk: Maggie exits too – Michonne a possibility.
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Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) Source: AMC.

Lincoln isn’t the only star leaving The Walking Dead in season nine, as Lauren Cohan (Instabamm’s vote as the most underrated hottie on TV) has signed on to star in ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier following a salary standoff with AMC, signaling an end to her run as vengeful fem badass Maggie Greene Rhee. However, Cohan announced a return to TWD shortly after the season eight finale, and she’s featured prominently in promotional material for the new season. Credible sources say, Cohan — like Lincoln — will appear in six of the first eight episodes of the season, with an exit that allows room for Maggie’s return down the line.

Let’s also strongly hope Michonne doesn’t join Rick and Maggie. Danai Gurira is out of contract after this season – let’s hope she re-signs. We currently have no information on her status.

So, there’s a solid possibility that they are going to kill Rick and Maggie off together – and maybe even dispense with Michonne too? This will be way too much for fans to take. Again, big shoes to fill here. This could be a spectacular disaster for TWD.

Stay: New bad guys – The Whisperers.
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New baddies. Samantha Morton as ‘Alpha’ and Ryan Hurst as ‘Beta’ – leaders of The Whisperers. Souce: AMC

It’s been well reported that an insidious new enemy is coming to season 9.

In The Walking Dead comics, these villains – the Whisperers – dress in the skin of zombies for camouflage and walk among the dead. Led by a woman named Alpha (who we now know will be played by new series regular Samantha Morton), this group targets the living, believing the undead should be left unharmed.

Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy) will also be joining the Season 9 cast. He will play a Whisperers character of note named ‘Beta’ – who is second in command.

Given the Whisperers culture, it’s no surprise that they don’t mesh well with Rick and the other members of the Alexandria Safe-Zone. Indeed, tensions reach such a fever pitch in the comics, that on the eve of the community’s fair, several people are abducted and beheaded, their heads then mounted on spikes to act as a boundary between Whisperer and Alexandrian territory.

We are not going to give who gets killed away, but if the comics are anything to go by, it is assured that The Whisperers will bring a whole new element of evil back to the show – and this will definitely be something to see.

Walk: Backing characters promoted up the chain too soon.

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Whereas Rick and Maggie are gunning for the exit, backing characters Avi Nash (Siddiq) and Callan McAuliffe (Alden) have reinforced roles within the ninth season. The two will now have more screen time. Both arrived in season eight, and have been upgraded from recurring to series regulars.

Once thing The Walking Dead does not have is a strong cast across the board (watch the numerous sleep-worthy segways to characters like Morgan and Tara for proof). Nothing against these new guys, but bringing two nobodies into the full limelight to fill a sudden casting hole is a gigantic mistake that many great shows make then never recover from. We all know what happened to MASH after Henry Blake was unnecessarily killed. An old reference assuredly – but the ‘MASH-factor’ (replacing established characters with weaker, less likable alternatives) has killed off too many shows to mention.

Will one of these new guys be The Walking Dead’s piss-weak BJ Hunnicutt equivalent? It seems from our perspective that these guys just aren’t badass enough to be elevated. I hope they can prove us wrong.

Stay: New showrunner.
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New showrunner Angela Kang with Norman Reedus. Source: AMC.

Of all things that have happened regarding the new season, this is the one factor that gives us the most reason to stay – and that’s a whole new person in charge of overseeing the show.

Off-screen, showrunner Scott M. Gimple has handed over the reins to Angela Kang, one of his top assistants, as he begins a larger role as TWD’s chief content officer, where he will now oversee the entire franchise for AMC (they are launching more spin-offs overseas and substantially expanding The Walking Dead universe).

Angela Kang joined The Walking Dead during season 2 when she was brought in to join the writing staff under former showrunner Frank Darabont, who was famously fired by AMC and his place was taken over by showrunner Glen Mazzara, who then let go at the end of season three and replaced by Gimple. Kang has now become the fourth showrunner on the series and will take over from the upcoming season’s wards.

Kang, it seems, realizes the show has made some mistakes, and articulated this in an interview with EW.

“We’re interested in human drama and the emotional bonds between people,” she said. “And we know from the end of the previous season that maybe not everybody was on board with the decision to save Negan. So we’ll be exploring some of those stories as we go forward.”

Marvel Defenders Instabamm

This is great. If Kang can bring a much-needed positive upheaval to the show, without mucking things around too much, this might be that breath of fresh air that TWD surely needs. Gimple liked things ‘smaller’ – so maybe Kang can make things go ‘large’ again? Our fingers are tightly crossed.

There’s lots to consider here, and we hope you give the show a chance? Like us, you may have been somewhat peeved after last year’s weak season 8 finale, but, we’ll all undoubtedly have to attack the new season with a different mindset – trying and keep positive – then mercilessly leaving if it falls in an unsalvageable heap with no fan rewards whatsoever.

But..we really don’t want to leave The Walking Dead unless we have to. For the most part it’s been a groundbreaking series, and if we finally get some ‘oomph’ back, we will re-dedicate ourselves to it once more, like it was the epic season 4 all over again.

Let’s hope they can deliver.

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