(This post contains spoilers for Season 9B of The Walking Dead! If you don't want to be spoiled, you are where you do not belong!)
The Walking Dead ended the first half of its revitalized ninth season with a really good episode that capped a run of really good episodes. It left off on a cliffhanger, with Jesus (Tom Payne) shockingly murked by a living man dressed as a walker, revealing that the new adversaries the Whisperers arrived and have Michonne (Danai Gurira) and the gang surrounded. We can't wait for the second half of Season 9 to arrive, so until then, we're going to keep this story updated with all the freshest info about The Walking Dead Season 9B.
Here's what we know so far.
The premiere date is one week after the Super Bowl. The Walking Dead is back Sunday, Feb. 10, at the usual time and place: 9/8c on AMC. The Greg Nicotero-directed midseason premiere is called "Adaptation," and its official synopsis is "The group unmasks a disturbing and dangerous new thread. An escaped captive revisits his past." It will be made available to AMC Premiere subscribers a week early.
It will pick up where it left off. Entertainment Weekly shared a photo that shows the survivors from the cemetery fight with the Whisperers coming home with Jesus' body. "It's gonna be a direct pickup," showrunner Angela Kang said about where the midseason premiere begins. "We're gonna find out what happens to that group that was in the cemetery as they try to make their harrowing journey back home to bury Jesus."
The trailer features an exciting throwdown. The trailer released after the midseason finale sets up the half-season's numerous story threads: the arrival of new bad guys the Whisperers, who tempt Daryl (Norman Reedus) by pointing out that his solitary and primitive way of life means he has more in common with them than with his old friends; Michonne's hard-hearted willingness to completely abandon her old dream of united communities by allowing the struggling Kingdom colony to fail; and Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) escape from prison in Alexandria and return to the Sanctuary. But the thing fans are most excited about is the fight between Daryl and Beta (Ryan Hurst), the Whisperers' brolic second-in-command, which looks like some intensely physical brawling.
For real, Beta looks like the Undertaker. In the comics, Beta is a seven-foot-tall former NBA player. Ryan Hurst is well over six-feet tall in real life, but he looks truly enormous in the trailer. With his long hair and beard, grim mask and imposing size, more than anything else he looks like a WWE superheavyweight such as the Undertaker or Kane.
The Whisperers are spooky dudes. The Whisperers basically live their entire lives in Slipknot cosplay. They wear "human leather" made from the skins of walkers and live among the dead. In the comics, they believe that humans are animals who forgot their true nature and the zombie apocalypse has returned them to how they're supposed to be: pack animals led by an Alpha (Samantha Morton). And if Alpha's Beta second-in-command is that fearsome of a fellow, she's gonna be real f---ed up. She can be seen in a very long shot in one scene in the trailer, and her signature bald head can be seen from behind in another. (Samantha Morton has been memorably bald before, in Minority Report).
And that's her daughter Lydia (Castle Rock's Cassady McClincy) telling Daryl he should join them. Lydia has an interesting relationship with Rick and Carl in the comics, and it looks like Rick's part is getting remixed and transferred to Daryl. And maybe Henry (Matt Lintz) will get Carl's story?
Alpha's face was revealed through the key art. Would you be surprised if I told you she looks weird and gross?
The story of the X-shaped scars will be told in flashbacks. Showrunner Angela Kang confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that the show will go back in time to show whatever happened that left Michonne and Daryl with scars on their backs and Michonne believing the relationships between the communities are damaged beyond repair. "We'll definitely be telling the story of what happened there, and what's kind of exciting about a six-year jump is that there is the opportunity to go back and tell some of those stories. So we'll see some of what has happened," Kang said. Whatever it was, it was "f---ed up," according to Episode 7 director Michael Cudlitz. "It's a big, really f---ed up thing that happened during that break. At some point, we will find out about it," Cudlitz told EW. "You will find out eventually what that is. It was bad."
Jesus may rise in those flashbacks. Even though Jesus died in the midseason finale, Tom Payne hinted to TV Guide that we might not have seen the last of him, since the show will be flashing back to a time in which he was still alive. "He could pop up at any time," Payne said.
Andrew Lincoln will not be appearing in those flashbacks. If you're anything like me, your first thought on hearing there would be flashbacks is "oh, what about Rick?" But the flashbacks will be to the time between when Rick disappeared and now. Andy's off the show for good.
Negan is going on a "Western-esque journey." In the finale, Negan escaped from Alexandria after discovering his jail cell had been left unlocked. He'd been in that cell for years, and he's going to find a very different world out there from the one he knew, according to Angela Kang. "He learns some pretty interesting things while he's out there," she said in an interview with EW. "I think it's really great to see Jefferey do this really interesting, almost Western-esque journey that I think will be fun for fans of Negan to see."
The Harvest Festival is happening. In the comics, the Harvest Festival was a major event that brought the communities back together, but it also was infiltrated by the Whisperers, who did something really, really bad. (No specific spoilers, but it started a war.) In an interview with EW, Angela Kang wouldn't say if that comics moment will be recreated, but the festival is for sure happening. "We really get to see what each community is and how they're even dealing with the very idea of this fair, because obviously, it's been a point of some contention between the Kingdom and Alexandria," Kang said. "That's a story that we see play out over the course of the back half."
AFargo star will be making an appearance. Eagle-eyed viewers spotted a guy in the trailer who looked a lot like Australian actor Angus Sampson, known for Fargo Season 2 and most recently Nightflyers. Well, TV Guide can confirm that that is in fact Angus Sampson. We don't know who his character is yet, but Angus Sampson tends to play guys with short tempers.
The Walking Dead Season 9 returns Sunday, Feb. 10 at 9/8c on AMC.