I wouldn't be telling tales out of school to say that fans of The Walking Dead have been pretty down on the show for the last couple years. Seasons 7 and 8 dragged out the war with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) storyline for longer than necessary, the dialogue had devolved almost entirely into speeches that boiled down to "I'm Going to Kill You" or "This Is the Way Things Are Now," and fans resented how Carl's (Chandler Riggs) death was handled. But that negativity might be receding in Season 9. The season premiere is called "A New Beginning," and it feels like it. New showrunner Angela Kang is consciously speeding up the pace and writing meaningful dialogue again, and fans are cautiously optimistic about the future of the long-running series for the first time in awhile.

The notoriously hard-to-please fans on The Walking Dead's Reddit actually enjoyed it!

They particularly appreciated that Daryl (Norman Reedus) was communicating using words again instead of just grunts and glowers...

...and the straight-up horror moment of hundreds of spiders bursting out of the a walker's mouth and eyes.

A screen-grab of the spider walker. from r/thewalkingdead

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Particular praise was given to the way the show handled the death of Ken (AJ Achinger), a character viewers had never seen before but whose death felt weighty and emotional.

They even liked they way the episode was shot.

In short, it looks like Angela Kang might be able to win back some fans who were out on the show, which is the best possible outcome for Season 9. Kudos!

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.