The Walking Dead season 9 is currently riding a well deserved high, after airing one of its best episodes in years with episode 15, The Calm Before over the weekend. But it doesn't end there. The season 9 finale, The Storm, is due to premiere later this week, and promises a completely fresh look for the show, as our gang find themselves still reeling from a devastating blow left by new villain The Whisperers.
AMC has already released a trailer (above), alongside several images and a short preview clip from the finale itself, and while details remain light, you can ascertain quite a few conclusions from what's been shown so far.
Here's 5 things you need to know about episode 16, The Storm, before The Walking Dead season 9 bows out for good.
1. Winter has arrived
The first thing you'll notice about The Walking Dead season 9 finale is its fresh coat of paint... or, rather, fresh blanket of snow. That's right, the long hard Winter teased by Alpha in episode 15 has finally arrived in the apocalypse, and though I'm bit confused that this is apparently the first time its snowed in the show after nearly a decade, it'll be interesting to see what new threats the seasonal change brings nonetheless.
Are frozen Walkers more or less dangerous than regular ones, for example? What have our agrarian communities been eating now that the ice has frozen over their crops? Maybe they haven't been eating at all, which would explain the next big thing to make note of...
2. The gang are on the move
For the first time since arriving at Alexandria in season 5, our main cast are out back on the road, presumably looking for a new home as The Kingdom falls to environmental degradation. This exodus may just be a temporary transit for the Winter before they return to Hilltop and Alexandria, or it could be a permanent migration to a yet disclosed location (perhaps the previously teased Commonwealth?). One things for sure, the move requires crossing over Alpha's borders into Whisperer territory, and that can only mean more bloodshed.
3. Negan has been unleashed
While the finale poses bad news for most of the crew, Negan couldn't be looking more happy, as the Winter brings with it an opportunity for the former Saviour to finally be released from his prison. The events of The Calm Before has left most fans with a deep appetite to see Negan unload a whole can of whoop ass on Alpha and The Whisperers, so the news of his release certainly leaves the door open for a potential redemption story. Now, where did he leave that baseball bat?
4. The new time jump is a small one
Episode 15 revealed that The Walking Dead has travelled through time once again into the future, but for those who are getting somewhat bored with season 8's new favourite structural device, don't worry too much. Judging on what we've seen so far, including the age of Michonne and Rick's child A.J., this time jump looks to have leaped only a few months ahead of previous events, meaning we won't be having to play catch up all over again before The Walking Dead season 10. Phew.
5. Ezekiel and Carol's relationship could be on the rocks
Take a watch of the clip above, in which Carol walks begrudgingly behind Ezekiel as Daryl consoles her. The days of a potential Carol-Daryl romance are long gone, but The King's suspicious glance back at the pair does imply that the couple's relationship is as icy as the land around them. It's possible that Henry's death was too much for the pair to handle, especially if they're still blaming themselves (and each other) for the loss. I don't want to ring any alarm bells, but the King may have just lost his Queen along with his Kingdom.
Before The Storm airs later this week, check out the biggest questions we have about the upcoming Walking Dead movies, and how Rick Grimes might return to our small screens in the near future.