The ranks of AMC's The Walking Dead continue to swell as the series continues to make changes ahead of it upcoming ninth season. With new showrunner Angela Kang in place, Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan preparing to depart, and Norman Reedus stepping into the lead, the series is bound to have a "new show smell" to it.
Following recent news that has Rick (Lincoln), Maggie (Cohan), and the Alexandria/Hilltop communities welcoming several new additions, AMC announced that Whisperers' leader Alpha (Samantha Morton) has found her second-in-command Beta in Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy).
"We're seeing graffiti in the Sanctuary for the first time since the war: 'Saviors Save Us.' After all the misery we saw at the Sanctuary when the Saviors were in charge, this is a surprising message for our people to see in the aftermath of the war. 'We Are Still Negan' is a nod back to the way the Saviors used to call themselves Negan, written in response to the call for help. In working on this story, the writers' room discussed the appeal of authoritarian governments as a reaction to chaos and war.
Andrew Lincoln picked up on that immediately when he saw this moment in the script and said, 'Well, it's the rise of fascism, isn't it?' (Read that in a British accent.) We don't tend to write in reaction to current events because we start breaking our stories 10 months or more before the season starts to air, but we do look to history for lessons about how civilizations react to war, pestilence, natural disaster, etc. This season, we're reflecting the way the characters in the comic book looked to the past to create a future, so it's especially valuable for us now!" – Angela Kang
Hurst definitely won't be alone when The Walking Dead returns on October 7th, with Rick and Maggie welcoming a number of new faces before they exit, including: Nadia Hilker as Magna, Angel Theory as Kelly and Lauren Ridloff as her sister Connie (first deaf character in the series), Eleanor Matsura as Yumiko, and Dan Fogler as Luke.
Other additions to the cast include: Brett Butler as "salt-of-the-earth" Hilltop resident Tammy Rose (clashes with Carl and Maggie in the comics); John Finn's Earl is the Hilltop's blacksmith and Tammy's devoted husband. (he winds up serving as a father figure and mentor for Carl); Rhys Coiro's Jed is described as a rebellious Savior who refuses to fall in line with the new community; Zach McGowen's Justin is a hostile Savior who isn't interested in working together with other communities; and recently-announced Cassady McClincy's Lydia, daughter of Whisperers' leader Alpha and a member of her mother's roaming band of walker-disguised survivors.