Just as we're getting ready to say goodbye to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) at some point very soon during the ninth season of AMC's The Walking Dead – hopefully alive and well and off to settle another community – comes word that Lincoln will be making his return to the long-running Robert Kirkman-created series next season.
Now don't take off the party hats or look for the receipts to return any presents quite yet… it's Lincoln coming back – not Rick – to direct an episode of the series during the tenth season. Lincoln will actually shadow a director during the current season to prepare for his series directorial debut: "I'm going back. I'm going back to shadow a director, and my intention is to direct next year."
Lincoln would be the third actor in the Walking Dead universe to also direct an episode. During the current fourth season of Fear the Walking Dead, Colman Domingo (Victor Strand) directed the episode 'Weak;' and The Walking Dead's Michael Cudlitz (Abraham) is directing this season's seventh episode, 'Stradivarius.'
As for why he's returning to the series so soon, Lincoln joked, "I can't be that far away because I can't bear it. That's how much I am invested in the show and the continuation of the story."
Last season brought the culmination of "All Out War," which pitted Rick Grimes and his group of survivors against the Saviors and their cunning leader, Negan. With Negan's life in his hands, Rick had a character-defining choice in front of him. By making the unilateral decision to spare Negan, Rick upheld the values his late son, Carl, championed in order to build for the future, but created conflict within his group.
Now, we see our survivors a year and a half after the end of the war, rebuilding civilization under Rick's steadfast leadership. It is a time of relative peace among the communities as they work together, looking to the past to forge the future, but the world they knew is rapidly changing as man-made structures continue to degrade, and nature takes over, changing the landscape and creating new challenges for our survivors.
As time passes, the communities confront unexpected obstacles, danger, and of course, walkers, but nothing quite prepares them for the formidable force they are about to encounter, which threatens the very idea of civilization that our survivors have worked so hard to build.
Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics, "The Walking Dead" reigns the number one drama on television among adults 18-49 for the last six seasons. The series is executive produced by chief content officer Scott M. Gimple, showrunner Angela Kang, Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Greg Nicotero, Tom Luse and Denise Huth.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC with new showrunner Angela Kang on Sunday, October 7th at 9 p.m. ET/PT, with an extended 86 minute ninth-season premiere. Here's a look at some information at the first eight episodes:
The Walking Dead s09e01 'A New Beginning' – Rick and his group make a risky run into Washington, D.C. to search for artifacts they will need to build the civilization he and Carl envisioned. Writer: Angela Kang / Director: Greg Nicotero
The Walking Dead s09e02 'The Bridge' – Writer: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick / Director: Daisy Mayer
The Walking Dead s09e03 'Warning Signs' – Writer: Channing Powell / Director: Dan Liu
The Walking Dead s09e04 'The Obliged' – Writer: Geraldine Inoa / Director: Rosemary Rodriguez
The Walking Dead s09e05 'What Comes After' – Writer: Matthew Negrete / Director: Greg Nicotero
The Walking Dead s09e06 'Untitled' – Writer: Eddie Guzelian / Director: Larry Teng
The Walking Dead s09e07 'Stradivarius' – Writer: Vivian Tse / Director: Michael Cudlitz
The Walking Dead s09e08 'Evolution' – Writer: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick / Director: Michael E. Satrazemis