Warning. This review contains several spoilers about the 9th season of the TV show “The Walking Dead”!
On March 31 the 9th season of the show “The Walking Dead” ended.
The 9th season was produced and broadcast in the format that have become usual: 16 episodes of which 8 were broadcast in October / December 2018 and the other 8 in February / March 2019. Now the ratings decline are no longer news but after an overall negative season like the eighth one more people abandoned the show with a consequent decline even among the ones who recorded the episodes. Angela Kang, already author of several of the show’s episodes, was added to the showrunners for the ninth season and for the tenth, since the show was renewed at least for another season.
The eighth season of “The Walking Dead” told the war between the group of Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom and Negan’s Saviors. A year and a half after the end of the war, the communities are working on a reconstruction but not all of them share the same ideas on how to move forward and who should be the leaders.
“The Walking Dead” ninth season cast consists of:
- Andrew Lincoln (photo ©Angela George) as Rick Grimes
- Danai Gurira (photo ©Gage Skidmore) as Michonne
- Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
- Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier
- Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene
- Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler
- Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter
- Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa
- Seth Gilliam as Gabriel Stokes
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan
- Ross Marquand as Aaron
- Katelyn Nacon as Enid
- Tom Payne as Paul “Jesus” Rovia
- Khary Payton as Ezekiel
- Samantha Morton as Alpha
The idea of the reconstruction of a civilization is interesting and the first part of the ninth season goes through a period of several years since after a few episodes there’s a further leap forward in the time of six years. The Oceanside community seems to have established links with the others. The feeling of a new chapter is also given by the agricultural activities with the support of metal and wood work to build new tools and people move more and more on horseback with Daryl being the the only who keeps on using his bike.
These episodes also show how the various communities are still not really united, how there are still tensions with the former Saviors and how there are also personal clashes. Initially Maggie is the central character from this point of view in the sense that she has to deal with Gregory’s machinations and at the same time keeps on seeking her revenge against Negan.
Unfortunately this part of the season also gives a certain feeling of melancholy because some important characters left. The two most important are not dead since Rick was saved and AMC announced the production of “The Walking Dead” films in which his story will continue while Maggie simply moved to another community so she could come back. These changes are linked to decisions by Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan so there’s hope of seeing them again in the show.
Negan’s story, on the other hand, is not over even though it’s curious to see a character who initially inspired terror in his enemies reduced to being Judith’s playmate. Evidently he’s no longer considered a danger by anyone since at some point he can take advantage of a distraction to escape but then surrenders to Judith after realizing how difficult it is to survive on his own.
The first half of the ninth season ends in a cemetery where some characters try to escape a group of walkers and when they finally manage to find the escape way, Jesus decides to go back just to be killed. All this serves to discover the presence of the Whisperers, people who are masquerading as walkers.
The second half of the ninth season is about the story-arc with the Whisperers, who are dangerous basically because they can mix-up with walkers and manage to guide them. In the episodes we see that they can guide groups of walkers with such precision to surround someone without making a noise in the night and their leader Alpha can go to an unfamiliar community, kill various people and take their corpses away without being noticed. In a show about zombies a certain suspension of disbelief is needed but sometimes certain parts of the plot have little sense and seem to be made only to obtain certain dramatic effects.
Perhaps now I tend to see the show’s flaws much more than its merits but all the problems connected to the misunderstandings among the various communities and in particular among their leaders seemed to me just fillers. The story between Henry and Lydia seemed boring to me but in that case it’s a general problem of teen stories.
These problems aside, the tones of this second part of the ninth season are really dark. Even the appearance in a number of flashbacks of Jocelyn, an old friend of Michonne, contributes to this darkness even though in my opinion that story deserved a little more than some scenes in the middle of the Whisperers’ story-arc.
Alpha makes her idea of the new world very clear and in many ways there’s a contrast with Carol, who tries to promote the new civilization with life in the first place. Alpha is always brutal while Carol seeks other means to solve problems and only if they fail she’s ready to use violence but at that point she doesn’t use half measures. For this reason, at the end of the episode “The Calm Before” my first thought was that Alpha screwed with the wrong person.
I guess we’ll see the possible developments of that story-arc in the tenth season as the ninth ended with a journey into the storm in which the most significant event is the discovery that in those conditions walkers can sometimes freeze but can also remain buried in the snow without freezing. In short, much snow about nothing.
Perhaps the purpose of the season finale was to make people understand what it felt like to lose a kingdom but my impression that it sucks ass, to quote Negan, is about the episode. So everything was postponed but even if overall the ninth season seemed to me an improvement compared to the previous seasons I found its ending disappointing. Several characters were eliminated so “The Walking Dead” can continue with lower expenses but to stop the drop in ratings they’ll have to keep working.