The Walking Dead still won't confirm that Rick Grimes' (Andrew Lincoln) time is coming to an end, but new showrunner Angela Kang did give a sense of where Rick will be at when Season 9 picks up after a time jump this fall.
"Rick opens up the season in a place where things are relatively good and peaceful for him," Kang told The Hollywood Reporter. "He made that unexpected decision to let Negan live at the end of Season 8, and we'll deal with some of the after effects of that because it was such a momentous thing. And the trauma of losing his son Carl, even with the passage of time, is something that is still painful for him. We're going to see him try to turn that pain into something positive for everybody. Rick will face some real challenges along the way. The thing that I hope the audience will respond to is seeing how Rick's underlying goodness and leadership will shine in moments of great adversity."
Lincoln is reportedly leaving The Walking Dead partway through Season 9, though neither AMC nor Lincoln have confirmed it yet. Kang was also evasive when asked about the also-departing Lauren Cohan, saying "we think there's more Maggie story to tell," which is almost exactly what Cohan said when she revealed she had signed on to do a few episodes of Season 9.
Kang also teased that the time jump will find the survivors adjusting from being post-apocalyptic scavengers to medieval agrarian farmers. The things they used to scavenge for, like gasoline and bullets, are running out, so they're working on domesticating horses and making hand weapons — meaning, maybe Michonne (Danai Gurira) won't be the only character using swords in the future.
Speaking of Michonne, Entertainment Weekly has the first photo of Season 9, which features Michonne on horseback in front of some other survivors, including reformed Savior Al (Callan McAuliffe) and Oceanside leader Cyndie (Sydney Park) tending to horses pulling carriages.
The Walking Dead Season 9 premieres in October.