When The Walking Dead returns for its ninth season, it will bring viewers forward in time after the war with the Saviors. Negan was finally defeated in the eighth season finale, but Rick's decision to spare his life seemingly turned some of his closest allies against him. There are new enemies awaiting the survivors, but Rick and company still have to watch their backs.
AMC has dropped a dozen images from the season nine premiere, and they offer us a better glimpse of the visibly aged characters. While there aren't any outward signs of conflict between Rick's and Maggie's factions, the various players appear to have gathered for an unusual midnight meeting.
The biggest change illustrated in these pics is the advancement of Carol's relationship with Ezekiel. Their shared intimacy in the following picture is pretty hard to deny. This has been coming since their introduction back in season seven, and it looks like things are going well between them. To be honest, we can't even remember the last time Carol smiled like that.
Jerry also seems to be thriving under the new order, and perhaps he'll even be playing a more prominent role in the Kingdom. He's certainly much more than Ezekiel's bodyguard.
Note that Father Gabriel doesn't appear to be quite as happy. It certainly looks like Gabriel has completely lost sight in at least one eye. That said, he's still accompanying Rick and his group, which suggests that he's largely recovered from his debilitating illness.
Another thing we may infer from these pics is that cars and gasoline are much harder to come by now, because it looks like Rick, Ezekiel, Carol, Daryl, and Michonne are going through a lot of trouble to get a wagon out of a museum. It's doubtful they would put in that kind of effort unless it was absolutely necessary.
That wagon can be seen in other pics from the episode, which appears to depict the various groups traveling together. Of course, the next questions are simple: where are they going? And why?
You can find the rest of the season nine premiere pictures below, including close-ups of Michonne and Daryl, as well as a hint of dissent among the survivors. None of these images appear to touch on the Whisperers, this year's primary threat. But we're eager to see how it all comes together when The Walking Dead premieres on Sunday, October 7.
What do you think about this advanced look at The Walking Dead season nine? Let us know in the comment section below!