The Walking Dead Season Nine Review: A Return to Form.

4 and a half stars
Seasons seven and eight were the weakest of The Walking Dead.
Full of bottle episodes and with an incredibly slow structure overall, these two seasons really should have been merged into one.
So, in order to bounce back, the show needed to deliver a fantastic ninth season and, boy, did it.
Scott Gimple was replaced as showrunner by Angela Kang who brought The Walking Dead back from the brink, adapting one of my favourite story arcs from the comics perfectly.
However, going in I did have my concerns, what with this season being the final one with Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes.
I was afraid the show would not be able to sustain itself without Rick but, thankfully, I was dead wrong about this.
Not only did Rick get a good sendoff in episode five “What Comes After,” but Daryl (Norman Reedus) works as the new lead after Rick’s departure.

Rick's departure
Rick got a good sendoff with episode five, and I am interested to see how his movies will turn out.

The season gets better from there with the New Beginning story arc, which saw a six year time skip.
From here, the season delivers great episode after great episode, only faltering with episode seven “Stradivarius,” which is not a bad episode but is much slower than the others.
By far the best part of this season, for me, is how the new characters from the comics are made even better that their comic book versions.
For example, I care for every member of Magna’s group in the show, while in the comics the only one I care for is Magna (Nadia Hilker) herself.
Connie (Lauren Ridloff) is an especially fantastic improvement on her comic book counterpart.
Then there are the Whisperers who are even scarier than they are in the comics, especially Samantha Morton as Alpha who knocks it out of the park.
I doubt that anyone could play this role better.
Finally, for characters, there is Judith (Cailey Fleming).
After Carl died in season eight, which is the stupidest decision the show has ever made, the series had lost one of its central pieces.
One of the main themes of The Walking Dead is how children grow up in a land of the dead and, with Carl gone, so was this theme.
Enter Judith in season nine, who so far, in my opinion, manages to be a better character than Carl and I cannot wait to see what else the writers decide to do with her.

Judith Grimes.jpg
The little ass kicker herself is the new Carl for this show and it is going pretty well so far.

Then there are the episodes themselves, which are stellar, as stated.
The best episodes of the season, though, came towards the end, with episodes 14 “Scars” and 15 “The Calm Before” being absolutely fantastic.
These episodes were investing, dark, and some of the best episodes of the entire series.
Overall, I would say The Walking Dead can manage just fine without Rick.
However, Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) may be another story because both are set to depart next season, which is concerning.
But Maggie is supposed to be returning so there is that.
I am also a bit concerned about how the Whisperer Arc will be handled in season ten, because, after the horrifying pike scene of episode 15, I believe the arc started to go downhill a bit.
Hopefully, the show will be able to improve on this arc in season ten just as they did with season nine.
If you stopped watching The Walking Dead after seasons seven and eight I would recommend you start watching again because the show has returned to its former glory.
I just hope that it stays there.

The Walking Dead, The Calm Before, Episode 15 Review: Emotionally Horrifying.

5 stars
They did it.
They actually pulled it off, thank god.
This is what the season six finale of The Walking Dead should have been.
I remember watching that moment when it cut to a point of view shot, hiding who Negan’s victim was, and feeling absolutely infuriated that they had ruined one of the comic’s most shocking scenes.
Thankfully though, episode 15 of season nine, “The Calm Before,” manages to transition the shock and horror of The Walking Dead’s Red Wedding moment to television brilliantly.
For starters, the episode does a fantastic job of building tension.
It is clear right from the opening minutes that something bad is going to happen this episode, even if you have never read the comics like I have.
Watching the happy life of a married couple in the Hilltop change into a scene from a horror movie where Alpha kills them and scalps the woman, perfectly sets up the emotional horror of the episode.
From here, the episode continues to build and build on the tension by showing many of the shows’ main and recurring characters enjoying time with their loved ones at the fair.
As a comic reader, these scenes were very intense for me as I tried to guess who among them would get the pike.
I wondered if it would stay closer to the comics or try something knew?
The director of the episode, Laura Besley, was probably thinking the same thing because she put in multiple red herrings to mislead us comic fans, which certainly worked.
The scene between Alpha (Samantha Morton) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) is a great example of this because Alpha leads him away, making me think Ezekiel was going to get his comic book death.
Morton once again stole the show in this episode as Alpha, with her subtle threat that there is going to be “a hard winter” sending chills down my spine.

wig Alpha.jpg
Samantha Morton continues to knock it out of the park as Alpha in this chilling scene with Khary Payton’s Ezekiel.

All of this buildup combined with the red herrings made the eventual pike scene all the more shocking to me.
Much like with the season six finale, I remember the horror I felt reading this moment in the comic, but, unlike the season six finale, this time, the horror was pulled off effectively.
The way this scene was shot only amplified the terror, with the pikes slowly coming into view as Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), and the others walk up the hill.
After this, the sequence cuts between our main characters’ horrified reactions, those at the fair looking for their loved ones, and the heads on the pikes.
The images of those heads will probably be seared into my brain for a while, with the haunting shots of them with their hair blowing through the wind as their heads lie decapitated on the pikes.
Everything about this scene was perfectly horrifying.
From the sequence of the shots, to the music, to the acting, especially from Reedus and McBride.
The moment Carol and Daryl realise Henry (Matt Lintz) is one of the pike victims is incredibly tragic, with the scene being reminiscent of when Carol lost her first child Sophia (ironically played by Lintz’s sister Madison) and Daryl had to hold her back.

tragic.jpg
Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus gave great performances with their reaction to Henry’s death. 

Speaking of Henry, I was surprised to see he was one of the pike victims but I do think it is tragically fitting because of where it will take characters closely connected with him.
Along with this, it means that Henry is not taking Carl’s place after he was stupidly killed off in season eight, which is good.
I think MOVIEidol said it best, “I do think killing Henry right here, first of all does confirm that Henry isn’t the new Carl, you know? Cause Carl can’t be replaced.”
However, it is not just Henry who gets a shocking pike death, but Enid (Katelyn Nacon) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) as well.
I will admit, I was a bit suspicious Enid might be a pike victim, given how much screen time her relationship with Alden (Callan McAuliffe), but I was not expecting Tara.
Her death shocked me, especially since they were really hinting at Rosita (Christian Serratos) before they showed Tara’s head on the pike.
As for the other seven characters who met their fates on the pikes, they were mostly side characters but I still felt their loss due to a fantastic addition to the episode.
In a scene that is completely TV series original, the only survivor from the Whisperer’s attack Siddiq (Avi Nash) tells the communities about the victims’ heroic last stand against Alpha and the Whisperers.
Much like the pike scene, the way this scene was shot was amazing.
Not only this but Nash’s performance, and the tragic music, actually made me tear up, making it two episodes in a row I have done so.

Siddiq's speech
Siddiq’s emotional tale of the pike victims’ heroic struggle for survival is one of the most tragic moments in The Walking Dead‘s history.

The Walking Dead honestly could not have done the pike scene any better.
It balanced the horrific tragedy of the event perfectly, and added a brilliant scene that highlighted the heroic actions of the victims.
Now, I only wonder how the season will end with the finale, “The Storm”?
But, this said, I have complete faith in Angela Kang, who wrote the episode.
She has completely turned The Walking Dead around.
After season eight and the announcement of Andrew Lincoln’s departure, I was actually thinking of quitting the show but, after seeing where Kang has taken the series, I am so glad I stuck around.
“The Calm Before” did justice to one of the comics’ darkest moments and even added to it, creating an amazing episode that was built off emotional horror.

The Walking Dead Season Nine Episodes 4-6 Review: It Just Keeps Getting Darker and Darker.

Just when you think The Walking Dead cannot get any darker it keeps on surprising you.
The second half of season nine has continued with episodes 12-14, “Guardians,” “Chokepoint,” and “Scars,” all of which were great.
“Guardians” and “Chokepoint” continue the story of the Whisperers very well, and “Scars” is the best flashback episode the series has had in a long time.
As stated, the series just keeps getting more gruesome with each episode.
From Alpha brutally decapitating a challenger in “Guardians,” to Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) brutal fight with Beta and the other Whisperers in “Chokepoint”, and to Michonne (Danai Gurira) having to kill children to save Judith in “Scars.”
That last one is especially dark and feels very reminiscent of the season four episode “The Grove.”

Pregnant michonne kills.jpeg
In one of the darkest scenes in The Walking Dead a pregnant Michonne has to kill kids to save her own. 

It also serves as a satisfying explanation for the scars Michonne and Daryl have and why Michonne is so closed off.
Along with this, “Scars” is the first episode of The Walking Dead to make me tear up since Glenn was supposedly killed off in season six (before it was stupidly revealed he survived by hiding under a dumpster).
The conversation Michonne has with Judith (Cailey Fleming) about what she went through and how she became isolated to protect her brought a tear to my eye.
This also leads to Michonne finally deciding to open up and go to the fair, which will sadly have disastrous consequences for Alexandria, based off what happens in the comics.
As for the other episodes, they are also strong ones with “Guardians” serving as the introduction of Beta, played by Ryan Hurst.
Much like Samantha Morton as Alpha, I am loving Hurst as Beta because he is perfectly cast.

Beta.png
Ryan Hurst is very intimidating as Beta and was the perfect choice for the role. 

In this episode we are also given a first hand look at the way the Whisperers live, which is about as brutal as you would expect.
The scene where Alpha brutally murders the wife of the man who challenged her, and then hands him her head, before killing, is incredibly dark.
The episode also ends on a high note, with Daryl and Connie (Lauren Rindloff) using Whisperer masks to save Henry (Matt Lintz) and Lydia (Cassady McClincy).
This leads to episode twelve “Chokepoint,” which I actually consider to be the weakest of the three episodes because, while it does have an amazing main storyline, it has a very forgettable secondary storyline.
Watching Carol (Melissa McBride) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) deal with the Highwaymen felt unnecessary and more like the filler we would see in seasons seven and eight.
That said though, the storyline did end on a very funny note.
Also, the main storyline of this episode is so exciting.
The fight between Daryl and Beta had me on the edge of my seat and made me eager to see the eventual fights between Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)) and Beta.

Beta vs Daryl.jpg
The fight between Daryl and Beta was very well choreographed and intense, even though I knew it was unlikely either one would die. 

This said, I hope they do a better job with Beta’s storyline than in the comics but, if how he has been presented so far is anything to go by, I would say there is a good chance the show can do it better.
All of these episodes are great and have me hyped up for the next episode, “The Calm Before,” which should be one of The Walking Dead‘s biggest moments.
I can still remember reading that moment in the comics and the feelings of shock and horror I felt.
Hopefully the show will be able to do this scene justice, just like they have been doing with the rest of the Whisperer Arc so far.

The Walking Dead Season Nine Episode 9-11 Discussion: True Terror.

The Walking Dead season nine has been killing it with the Whisperer Arc storyline so far.
The midseason finale served as a great introduction to these new villains and they have only got scarier since the series returned.
These three new episodes, “Adaptation”, “Omega”, and “Bounty”, continue to show that season nine is returning The Walking Dead to its former glory.
I know I have said this many times since season nine began, but Angela Kang was the perfect choice for showrunner because, under her direction, the series has bounced back from a low point in quality that many of us were concerned it could never recover from.
There are so many differences that improve on the series’ comic counterpart.
This is surprising to me because, off the top of my head, I cannot recall a time when the show has had a change that was better than the comic since season five.

Hero Connie.png
The characters are some of the best differences from the comics this season. In the comics Connie (Lauren Ridloff) is completely forgettable but in the show she is quickly becoming a favourite of mine.

Character development is truly where these new episodes shine, with many characters, like Daryl, having great scenes.
It is the new characters that steal the spotlight though, because Magna’s group, Lydia (Cassady McCliny), and Alpha are already miles better than their comic versions.
Samantha Morton’s Alpha is the true standout of these characters, with her being one of the most terrifying villains in the show’s history.
I love how they gave her this dirty look to fit with her savage nature as a Whisperer.
It was odd how, in the comics, Alpha’s skin was clean, despite wearing literal human skin all day, so this is an improvement.
Morton is also fantastically scary as the antagonist.
Watching the promos, I was originally unsure about her accent but, after watching the episodes, I can say it works perfectly.
Her arrival at the end of “Omega” is nothing short of chilling.

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Samantha Morton was the perfect choice for Alpha. She looks and acts absolutely terrifying.

Speaking of these episodes, they range from good to fantastic.
The first two, “Adaptation” and “Omega” are the good episodes.
They have plenty of amazing scenes but some moments do feel out of place and drag a little, especially in “Omega”.
This is not the case for “Bounty” though because it is already one of my favourite episodes of season nine.
“Bounty” truly shows what monstrous acts the Whisperers are capable of, with a mother Whisperer leaving her own baby to be eaten by the Walkers because it is too loud.
This new scene is very shocking and is a great addition to the show.
It also leads to one of the show’s scariest moments in recent memory, with Connie rescuing the baby and fleeing into a cornfield.
It is here where she constantly has to fend off the Walkers, and it is made all the more scarier because she is deaf.
It felt like something that would be seen in A Quiet Place. 
“Bounty” is just a great episode, with the only negative I have being the blatant stupidity of Henry (Matt Lintz).
Other than this, and a few missteps though, the first few episodes of The Walking Dead season nine’s second half continues the show’s climb of better quality.
It has me very excited for The Walking Dead‘s equivalent of the Red Wedding, which we will surely see by the end of the season.
And, with what we have got so far, I am sure Angela Kang can pull it off.

The Walking Dead Season Nine, Episode Six to Mid Season Finale Discussion.

In my last The Walking Dead discussion post I talked about the departures of Maggie and Rick and how I felt they would impact the show.
I said that despite their departures the show’s future looked bright and, based on the final three episodes of this half of the season, I think I can stand by that statement.
Even though viewership is still declining, I think The Walking Dead is returning to its glory days and it will only get better as it goes on.
The show has already made improvements on its comic book counterpart, something that has not happened since season five.
This improvement can be seen in the episode after Rick’s Departure, “Who Are You Now?” where we get the official introduction of Magna (Nadia Hilker) and her group after they appeared at the end of the previous episodes.
I already think these characters are a massive improvement on their comic versions.
Magna is a lot more fleshed out and given more backstory, with it being revealed she was in prison.
Her group of Yumiko (Eleanor Matsura), Luke (Dan Fogler), Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Kelly (Angel Theory) are also made much more interesting because they are given more characteristics and a lot more to do.

Magna 3
The portrayal of Magna, Yumiko, Kelly, Connie and Luke is already better than what we have been given so far in the comics.

I also liked how this episode and the other ones place a divide between the communities.
Everything was all hunky-dory after all out war in the comics so to see such open hostilities between the communities is very interesting, especially because we do not know what caused this divide.
We do know it has something to do with the X’s carved into Daryl and Michonne’s back but not much else.
This adds a layer of mystery to the story, which I am really enjoying.
However, the seventh episode of the season “Stradivarius” is definitely the weakest of the season because, while it does continue the character growth of Magna and her group, it only slightly pushes the story forward.
It is certainly not a bad episode though, and the season not having one bad episode out of eight is definitely something the last few seasons cannot attest to.
The mid-season finale, “Evolution”, is one of the best episodes of the season, possibly only falling behind Rick’s goodbye episode “What Comes After.”
It features the moment I have been waiting for even since it happened in the comics… the reveal of the Whisperers and it does not disappoint.
The final moments of this episode felt like a horror movie and brought incredible levels of tension.
This unfortunately led to the death of Jesus.
I had heard rumors of his death before watching the episode but I was still disappointed to see him go because, just like his actor Tom Payne said, he had been badly underused up to this point.
That said, what an epic way for him to go out.
It was a masterful sequence that shocked me, even though I knew it was coming, and showed the true horror of the Whisperers.
Just as Jesus finishes killing some Walkers in an amazing use of slow motion he walks towards safety but two more stand in his way.
He takes out the first one when suddenly the second one ducks and stabs him from behind whispering in his air, “you are where you do not belong” as thunder crashes around them.

Jesus
Even though it is sad to see Jesus go he got one hell of a send off.

This was an amazing way to reveal the Whisperers because it shows how deadly they are with many unable to tell if they are Walkers or Whisperers in disguise.
We then got the intense cliffhanger of the group realizing the supposed talking Walkers are actually people wearing their skin and then hearing multiple Whisperers as they surround them before cutting to black.
And, with that, the first half of season nine comes to a close.
I have been saying for a while now that season nine was the make it or break it season for me, where the show would either recover from its dark descent or rise above it.
Thankfully, I am now certain that the show has moved past the dark times of seasons seven and eight.
Angela Kang has done an amazing job with this season and if it continues like this, it may be one of my favourite seasons of The Walking Dead.
One thing is for certain though, I cannot wait to see how the rest of the Whisperer arc plays out in the next half of the season, where we will get the much awaited arrivals of Lydia, Alpha and Beta.

Did Rick and Maggie get an Appropriate Send off in the Walking Dead?

The fifth episode of the ninth season of The Walking Dead, “What Comes After”, recently aired, being the final episode for Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes and Lauren Cohan’s Maggie Rhee, at least for a little while.
When I first head these two were leaving I honestly thought the show was doomed with two of its central characters (Rick being the main character) departing.
However, after viewing all five episodes of this season so far and seeing the direction it is heading, I actually think with Angela Kang as the showrunner The Walking Dead may continue to deliver a compelling narrative.
But even so, this does leave the question of whether the departures of such major characters as Rick and Maggie were done right?
Since Rick is the main character, I will start with him.
Coming into this episode I was very concerned with how he would leave the show because I thought we were going to get another Carl situation with a bad death for such an important character.
This concern was generated by the ending of the previous episode, where Rick accidentally impaled himself on some rods.
I came in feeling like I knew what was going to happen, with Rick hallucinating all of his dead friends before dying of blood loss.
However, while that first part was right, the second, thankfully, was not.
Rick does experience numerous hallucinations and all but one of them are handled expertly.
Seeing Rick interact with Shane and Hershel again was a joy to see, especially Shane because their scene together spoke a lot about how far Rick had come.
The one hallucination I did not like, however, was when Rick talked with Sasha.
This was Rick’s final hallucination and of all the characters for him to talk to during it, Sasha would have been at the bottom of my list.
She and Rick barely interacted and I do not think they were even that close so seeing Rick hallucinate her giving him this emotional pep talk made absolutely no sense.
It should have been Glenn, Lori or Carl Rick talked to, not Sasha.
Other than this though, the hallucinations were all handled well and added to the tension.
Then came Rick’s “death scene” where he blew up the bridge while he and the herd of Walkers were still on it to save his friends.
This was very emotional and if Rick had died here I would actually have been OK with it because it left a big emotional impact and served a logical purpose, unlike Carl’s death.
However, this was not the end for Rick because Jadis saved him by taking him on the helicopter with her.
And so Rick departed the show on this helicopter, with the ending song from the very first episode “Space Junk” by Wang Chung playing in a fitting end his story on the show.
This did leave me wondering what would happen to him in the future but this question was answered when I learned Andrew Lincoln would be starring in the recently announced The Walking Dead spin off movies.
When I first learned this, I laughed but, after thinking about it, I realised this could be interesting.
I will just have to wait and see the movies to know if it was a good idea to keep Rick alive for this.
Overall, Rick’s sendoff this episode was both touching and fitting, and I think they did a great job with it.
Not so much for Maggie I am afraid.
I would go as far to say that Maggie’s sendoff this episode was handled incredibly badly.
I will say I did like what happened to her in this episode, with her finally confronting Negan over Glenn’s death in a scene that, while not as good as the comics, was still very impactful.
However, there was literally nothing in the episode that would suggest this was Maggie’s last episode.
No emotional sendoff, no death, nothing.
It was like they completely forgot this was supposed to be her final episode until they had actually completed it.
Hopefully they can at least give a logical reason for her departure in the next episode.
Speaking of which, even though these two incredibly important characters have departed the show, I am still looking forward to what is to come this season.
We will be getting the full introduction of Magna and her group next episode, The Whisperers will be introduced soon, and it looks like Judith will now be taking center stage in a surprising yet welcome turn of events.
All in all, the future for The Walking Dead looks bright, even with these departures.

The Walking Dead, Season 9, Episode one, The Bridge Review: Another Solid Episode

4 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

The Walking Dead season nine continues on track in its second episode, “The Bridge.”
Since seeing the season premiere over a week ago, I have been optimistic about the show’s future given that the new showrunner, Angela Kang, helped produce an episode that was better than almost every episode in the last two seasons.
“The Bridge” continues this, giving us an episode just as good as the last one, providing more great aspects of acting, character development and action.
This episode primarily follows Rick and the others’ attempts to build a bridge for the Sanctuary and the disastrous consequences that follow.
During this time we got an expansion on character’s relationships since the time skip that I enjoyed, for the most part.
There was one relationship reveal that I personally was not a fan of, which I will get into in the spoiler review section.
Aside from this though, I loved the character interactions both major and minor that presented once again top-notch performances from the cast, especially from Ross Marquand who was the standout.
The performances have got significantly better in these two episodes than prior seasons and I am looking forward to seeing what the cast can pull off in the future.
The episode also gives us a few cliffhangers, some I like and some I have mixed feeling about.
Overall though, “The Bridge” was another good episode of The Walking Dead, which can hopefully continue to the end of the season.

Spoiler Review:

“The Bridge” picked up at least a month after the cliffhanger of the previous episode where Maggie hanged Gregory and made her position on the Saviours abundantly clear.
Now Rick and the other communities were working together to build the bridge for the Sanctuary, leading to a horrific accident that caused Aaron to lose his hand after it was crushed under a log and had to be amputated.
Ross Marquand did absolutely incredible in this scene, giving not just the standout performance of the episode but the standout performance of his entire time on the show.
He pulled off the agony his character was in extremely well and it made me feel incredibly sorry for him.
On a lighter note though, many fans have pointed out that now with his beard and missing hand Aaron looks more like Rick in the comics than Andrew Lincoln himself, which is funny.
The cause of Aaron’s accident was an incompetent Saviour named Justin, played by Zack McGowan.
However, Justin was not long for this world because he is attacked at the end of the episode.
Justin clearly recognized whoever attacked him and this has sparked the theory that it was a Whisperer wearing his dead friend’s skin.
If this is the Whisperers I am eagerly anticipating their arrival as they are by far the most disturbing villains of the comics.
However, while I did like this moment near the end of the episode, there was one moment I was not so sure about it.
This is when Anne sees the helicopter from season eight again in the night sky.
I have a feeling that what this helicopter means will either be great or bad for the series so we will have to see if that plays out.
If it is the Commonwealth, however, I think they are introducing them far too early.
Speaking of Anne though, another thing I have mixed feelings on was the reveal of her relationship with Gabriel, which, in all honesty, felt pretty forced to me.
But it may improve in the future, who knows?
Even though I did not like the interactions between Anne and Gabriel very much there were plenty of other interactions I loved.
For example, there was the interaction between Carol and Ezekiel, where Carol agreed to wear his ring but refuse his speech, and the conversation between Earl and Maggie about Earl’s alcoholism.
Then there were the Rick and Negan moments, which were great as Jeffrey Dean Morgan is perfect as Negan.
However, I will admit, it is sad we will never get to see him interact with Carl in the New Beginning story arc because their odd friendship in the comics is very interesting.
Even so, I will still say that “The Bridge” is another great episode of The Walking Dead.
It is not without its flaws but it, and the previous episode, are still better than what came before.

Predictions:

  1. Every time I see a new couple get together in season nine I always think one of them is going to be on the receiving end of a machete and have their stuck on a pike by the Whisperers. First I thought Ezekiel would die this way, now I have a feeling Anne may as well, after she finishes her helicopter storyline though.
  2. Speaking of Anne, I wonder when she will reveal what she knows about the helicopter and why she did not tell everyone about it after she joined the group at the end of season eight? Hopefully this will be revealed soon.

The Walking Dead, Season 9, Episode one A New Beginning Review: A Return to Form?

4 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Coming into The Walking Dead season nine, I have felt like this was the season that would return the show to its former glory or doom it forever.
The series has been in a slow decline ever since season six that it all culminated in the disastrous decision to kill off Carl.
However, season nine opens on the A New Beginning story arc, which gave the comics a new and fresh feel to it that made the already great comic even better.
So, even with Andrew Lincoln, and possibly Lauren Cohan, leaving the show, season nine could pull The Walking Dead out of the drain it has slowly been circling.
For this season they even changed showrunners, moving Scott Gimple over to Fear The Walking Dead and, given how terrible that show has become since he started working there, I think it is good he no longer holds that position for the main show.
Angela Kang has replaced Scott Gimple as showrunner for season nine and if episode one, “A New Beginning”, is any indication then she was definitely the right choice.
Written by Kang and directed by Greg Nicotero, “A New Beginning” felt incredibly different from the last two seasons in the best of ways.
It had great writing, acting and pacing, which, looking back on season seven and eight, were features that were sorely lacking.
It even had a new title sequence, which was well done and different compared to what we have seen previously.
If the other episodes of season nine play out like this then this season may be a return to form for the series that gets me fully invested in it again.
There are no guarantees though, especially with two of the main characters leaving this season, but I remain optimistic based on this episode.
“A New Beginning” was a great start to the season that has me intrigued for what the rest of it holds.

Spoiler Review:

Now to get into the specifics.
“A New Beginning” starts off with a time jump, being a few years after the war ended Rick and the communities are working together to help get the Sanctuary back on its feet.
Numerous things are revealed in this opening half hour, like many of the Saviours still want Negan to return, Daryl has taken over Dwight’s comic storyline by being leader of the Sanctuary, and Carol and Ezekiel have got together.
This leads to a both sweet and humorous scene where Ezekiel proposes to Carol after a close call.
This close call was at a museum where Anne (Jadis’ real name) remembered there was gear that could help the Saviours with their crops.
There were many interesting character interactions and events during this mission, including Siddiq being attacked by a Walker.
I loved this moment because it made Walkers scary again, which was once again something that has been lacking in the past few seasons.
The threat the Walkers pose is truly established when, in a freak accident, one of them bites and kills a survivor from the Hilltop named Ken.
We just met Ken this episode so his death does not really mean anything on an emotional level.
Rather, it is the impact of his death that truly delivers, both emotionally and for the story.
We get to see his parents’ reaction to his death and both actors playing these characters do a tremendous job of getting their grief across, which really made me feel for them.
Story wise, Ken’s death also has huge implications because it leads to Gregory manipulating the boy’s father to try and kill Maggie.
I was very surprised by this turn of events because Gregory’s attempt on Maggie’s life does not come until much later in the comics, but it was a nice surprise.
This lead to Gregory’s comic book death when is hanged for his crimes on Maggie’s orders, showing Rick that she is planning on doing things differently and subtly shaming him for sparing Negan.
This was a great continuation on the weak cliffhanger from season eight that hinted at Maggie, Daryl and Jesus going against Rick because its set up numerous debates and conflicts that were not present at this stage in the comics.
Along with all this, I liked what the episode did with its characters, primarily Daryl.
For the past three seasons I feel that Daryl has been a very weak character with little to no character development and because of this, when it was announced that Rick would be killed off, I had no confidence in Daryl taking over as the lead.
After this episode, however, I can say that, if he continues on this track, Daryl may actually be able to take over from Rick.
Daryl got development in this episode that made me like him a lot more.
On top of this, the dialogue and acting during these character development scenes was much better than seasons seven and eight, along with the pacing.
“A New Beginning” is, in my opinion, miles better than what we got in season seven and eight, and if the show continues like this then it may actually redeem itself.

 

Predictions:

  1. Ezekiel and Carol’s interactions have me worried because Carol seems to be taking the path comic Michonne did by leaving Ezekiel. All of this points towards (Warning: Potential Spoilers!) Ezekiel being killed by the Whisperers, just like he was in the comics, and Carol regretting leaving him.
  2. It looks like we will see Negan in his prison next episode, which I am very interested in. While I am disappointed we will not get to see him interact with Carl again, it will be interesting to see how he and Rick’s conversations play out.