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Not a moment from the show per se, but The Walking Dead's new showrunner Angela Kang made her presence felt in the reinvigorated series with the Season 9 premiere on Sunday, Oct. 7. "A New Beginning" delivered on its promise of pushing the show forward by featuring a flourishing society as opposed to the steady churn of fights and battles that reached a crescendo with Season 8's all out war. Now, The Walking Dead is never going to be a shiny, happier utopia -- and Kang, a veteran of the show who's worked closely with former showrunner Scott Gimple since Season 2, will keep its core spirit in tact, at least for a good while -- but the Season 9 premiere offered up hope that something truly fresh was on the horizon.
Though Lauren Cohan is leaving, her emergence as Hilltop's no-nonsense leader is a good omen of more women at the forefront to come. Season 9 will not only show Maggie holding it down, but will also feature Georgie (Jayne Atkinson) returning as the engineering whiz of the Commonwealth. Combined with Heapster leader Jadis (Pollyanna McInto) and Oceanside, the all-female community due to make a resurgence, The Walking Dead's future really is female, and you know what? It's about time.
The first big scenes of Season 9 saw the gang foraging for supplies in the American History museum. Symbolism! Culture and enlightenment have become important and this visit had a direct impact on a new society. When Michonne (Danai Gurira) passed by the Constitution, it directly inspired her to consider work on a charter -- not a constitution, she was quick to point out -- that will finally help bring order. With culture flourishing and a government forming, opportunities for all kinds of exciting new storylines open up.
Gosh, so much was said in these first scenes! Siddiq (Avi Nash) and his fellow Alexandrians worked hard to get a plow out of the museum -- another sign of life. People are growing food! Granted, watching tomatoes growing on the vine isn't exactly riveting TV, but crops mean trade and travel as well as conflict and the discovery of new societies, both friendly and not-so-nice.
Wasit just us or did the walkers in the season premiere look.. .fresher, cleaner? Norman Reedus said at New York Comic Con that Season 9 "feels a little Western, and so those are some of the visual inspirations that we took," and that was apparent in the very subtle makeover seen in walker close-ups like this one.
Maggie has never been a punk, but she's certainly demonstrated a good deal of restraint in giving people second and third chances -- Greg (Xander Berkeley) most notably. But his weak assassination attempt finally pushed Maggie over the edge, and she had that ass hung in the dead of night like a pig in a butcher shop. The kids hadn't even gone to bed yet! What this means is that, for the rest of the time we see her, Maggie fully steps into her own as a boss -- and possibly becomes someone we don't even recognize any more. We're here for it.
We know Rick's days are numbered (literally) but until he goes, he and Michonne keep on making sweet, stanky love, and they're not trying to hide it. Their bedroom pillow talk in the first episode of Season 9 is equal parts adorable and important, since their intimate moments foreshadow big moments to come and what kind of person Michonne might become once the famous Rick Grimes is no more.
Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Carol (Melissa McBride) are the Walking Dead's celebrity couple of the season, even if, by the looks of it, Carol will spend a lot of time in this relationship keeping him from dying. No matter. It's nice to see Carol's walls come down a little bit after so. much. trauma. and if her man does really meet his demise in Season 9 as some theorize, then Carol will likely become the coldest, baddest mother this show has ever seen, which would really be something to behold.
This newly enlightened, everyone's-working-together Walking Dead sounds great and all, but we still wanna see some battles, and the graffiti inside the Sanctuary made it clear that not everyone is gonna be joining hands to sing "Kumbaya." This was also a literal sign that Negan, while not entirely vanquished, takes a backseat to everything else for a bit, and thank goodness.
The maybe plutonic/maybe romantic relationship between Carol and Daryl took a telling turn in the Season 9 premiere, when the two shared a moment of tenderness. At this point, she'd already given her hand to Ezekiel (symbolically, anyway, since she turned down his stupid ring) and wasn't trying to hide that from Daryl. So either The Walking Dead wanted us to know that these two are down with some DL polyamorous vibes or, much more likely, they're good friends and a support system for each other, and we'll see that deepen going forward. Then again, Ezekiel's head may very well end up being the cotton ball portion of a metal Q-tip really soon if the source material is our guide, and Carol could go running into Daryl's arms for comfort. Who knows? Either way, we'll explore the heart and soul of their connection, and it this scene made that look very lovely.