‘The Walking Dead’ Fans Should Brace For Change in Season 9

We play fair, and that’s why we’re taking the time to tell you that this story may contain spoilers about the upcoming season of “The Walking Dead.” If you don’t want to know, be a Walker and stumble away

It is easy to believe that fans of “The Walking Dead” have an equal sense of anticipation and dread when it comes to Season 9, premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. After all, their favorite TV show about surviving a zombie apocalypse is back, but their hero, Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, will be making his exit.

Keep an eye on Bovada, a top-rated sportsbook attuned to all topics trending in entertainment for possible prop bets on what happens to Grimes and others on this show, which isn’t afraid to take out beloved characters, as well as evil ones.

If only Mark of “Love Actually,” also played by Lincoln, would come to our apartment door carrying poster boards – and maybe a machete — to tell us the fate of Grimes in Episode 5. Yeah, we’re sure that’s when it happens but we don’t know specifically what happens.

TV Guide has floated three possibilities including a helicopter airlift; Grimes’ head on a pike thanks to new baddies, the skin-wearing Whisperers; or the ultimate slow transition into a Walker. We don’t like any of these options and are holding out for Grimes riding off into the sunset on a horse. “Grimes, come back Grimes.”

The beauty of Lincoln’s farewell is that he gave writers enough time to script a proper end to an iconic character. Enough. Enough, now.

Fans should brace themselves as a preview clip makes it clear someone we know dies early in the premiere. Yes, producers on this show don’t waste any time.

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) lets viewers know moments after he and Grimes step into the Sanctuary that “it’s a bad time. We just lost someone out there.” “Walking Dead” fans are accustomed to loss and this season their ability to let go will be tested.

Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Rhee, also is on the record that she’s leaving, most likely in the same episode as Lincoln. Do you think the episode name “What Comes After” is a big enough clue? But don’t fret much, rumors have her character returning after a brief sojourn with Georgie, possibly to the Commonwealth.

In the Sunday premiere called “A New Beginning,” viewers will find themselves traveling as well – forward in time. Corresponding with comic books, the show is 18 months down the road from Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) defeat with a return emphasis on characters rather than a constant, ongoing war and struggle for survival. So if you’re a fan of hand-to-decaying-zombie-hand warfare, prepare for a bit less – just a bit.

And if you’re a fan of Negan (is that even possible?), be patient. Could a spinoff with Negan’s origin story be in the offing? Time will tell.

The emphasis on character and community building seems to have a dual purpose – a pause from relentless evil and to see what cream rises to the top. Someone is going to have to lead our band of brothers and sisters and Daryl, it seems, is reluctant to take the job.

New showrunner and longtime show writer Angela Kang is the driving force behind the refreshing change in tone and she announces her presence with authority as the show’s former decomposing main title is reborn with greenery and creeping foliage.

And it appears the Year of Woman has found its way to “TWD,” as Kang told Entertainment Weekly, there will be special attention paid to women in positions of power.

Case in point, the potent Maggie and Michonne (Danai Gurria) relationship. Expect to see two powerful personalities, who don’t necessarily agree on much, demonstrating mutual respect while looking for solutions and a new path forward. Huh, what a concept.

As it’s been with every season this highly-successful show, fans will be challenged to navigate a new normal, and in the ninth season, a world with and without Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes.

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