It’s a whole new world when The Walking Dead returns. When season 9 begins, a year and a half has passed, which means Maggie (Lauren Cohan) has welcomed her baby – one that the world has been waiting to meet.
“You see her as a working mother. She is an incredible leader of Hilltop. When we start off the season, Hilltop is in the best shape of all the communities. She really came in and her background as a farmer’s daughter is so valuable in the apocalypse,” showrunner Angela Kang told Us Weekly exclusively in our Fall TV preview. “She has built Hilltop from what it already was into an even more thriving and dynamic community, but she’s actively mothering this beautiful child that we’ve all been waiting for, the son of Glenn. You see her balancing the things the way that working mothers do. I myself am a working mother and many of our viewers are. You figure out how to juggle. That’s part of her life.”
However, the new baby isn’t the only change in town. Overall, the group is dealing with “more scarcity” than they ever have before – including a lack of gasoline and weapons.
“They move to a more horse-driven culture so that changes some things about the way they go about the world,” Kang said. “They’re conserving their bullets much more so they’re dealing with hand weapons, which means that their fights with zombies are generally at closer range and a little scarier. We see that some of the stories that we ended with last season, there are some lingering after effects to that.”
Midway through last season, Carl Grimes died, something that the group will still be dealing with. Michonne (Danai Gurira) will actually be wearing a piece of Carl’s shirt in her hair.
“What’s interesting about that little piece in her hair is that we talked about in the beginning of the season – myself and the actors – about different things that people have for memories. A lot of our actors carry little mementos and things in their pockets, stuff that fans never see because it’s part of their internal thing that they’re doing,” Kang said. “Some of our characters have little tokens on their costumes so they can carry those things that are important to them, those kind of daily reminders of why they do the things they do, why they fight, the things they do to stay alive.”
“There will definitely be things like that,” she continued. “I think that’s very true to life, part of the understory to what’s happening in The Walking Dead.”
Season 9 will also be the last for star Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick, as he’s chosen to leave the show. However, Kang doesn’t feel the pressure to make the fans happy with his ending. Instead, she just wants it to be meaningful.
“The thing that we really thought about was obviously this is going to cause some grief on the fans, so we want to tell as wonderful and as exciting a story as we can while also telling the stories of the incredible ensemble around him, just do service to this great character that we all love so much and this man that we love,” she told Us. “You’ll see incredible work between him and the other great characters that we’ve followed for so many years on the show. We have some incredible, incredible scenes between him, Maggie, Carol (Melissa McBride), Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Michonne particularly, but really with everybody. That was our hope.”
The Walking Dead returns on AMC Sunday, October 7, at 9 p.m. ET.