The Walking Dead season 9 episode recap - and everything else you need to know

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The Walking Dead season 9 continues on without Rick Grimes in the lead up to its mid-season finale, and it's safe to say that a lot has changed in the process. The most recent chapter, The Walking Dead season 9 episode 6, was perhaps the maddest of the lot, landing major reveals and unpredictable shocks which are finally starting to make the show feel relevant again. Struggling to keep up? We've got episodic summaries of all of The Walking Dead season 9 (so far) in the recaps below, so take a peruse and see what you make of all the biggest plot developments from AMC's mammoth zombie show. 

Suffice to say, there's massive story spoilers for The Walking Dead so far in the following recaps, but those who still haven't managed to make it through The Walking Dead season 8 yet (we don't blame you) can catch up with our highlights in The Walking Dead season 8 recap. This page also includes all the information you need to know about The Walking Dead season 9 as it continues to air right now, including the release times for each episode, cast information, and much more. 

Fast Facts:

  • The Walking Dead season 9 release date: Every Sunday, 9pm PST/EST (US) or Monday, 9pm BST (UK)
  • The Walking Dead season 9 showrunner: Angela Kang
  • The Walking Dead season 9 cast: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Melissa McBride, Danai Gurira, Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt, Alanna Masterson

The Walking Dead S9.01 - A New Beginning

The season 9 premiere kicks off with a trip to Washington D.C., as Rick, Maggie, Daryl, and several others scavenge the city for vehicles, farming tools, and more. The only fatality of the trip is Kim, a character who we’ve never met before and is quickly killed off after the double whammy of being bit by a Walker and kicked in the chest by a horse. Ouch. On the way back from Washington, Ezekiel casually proposes to Carol, who resolutely declines the offer ("Not on a horse!"). 

Back at home, trouble is brewing at Sanctuary after pro-Negan graffiti is found scrawled across the walls, while Rick has trouble persuading Maggie to help out her neighbouring communities by sending more of Hilltop's workers and fighters. Speaking of Hilltop, we learn that Maggie is now the town’s official leader following an election against Gregory, who is extremely bitter about the situation. 

He plays the snake in the ear to Kim’s grieving parents, inebriating the father, Earl, and egging him on to make a play for Maggie’s life while she’s out with her baby Hershel(!) at night. The assassination attempt fails, and Hilltop’s leader responds by imprisoning Earl and hanging Gregory at the gallows, with Rick, Michonne, and Jesus watching on in horror. 

Read more: Is Maggie becoming The Walking Dead season 9's next big villain?

The Walking Dead S9.02 - The Bridge

The Bridge, unsurprisingly, focused on the survivor’s collaborative efforts to rebuild the damaged bridge first seen in A New Beginning. It’s proving difficult to get Saviours to cooperative in the project, however, especially as one particular thug is causing trouble, first by bullying young Henry and then failing to do his part in Walker crowd control, leading a hard straight into Daryl, Aaron, and a few other saviours on log lifting duty. During the panic, Aaron’s arm gets crushed by falling log, forcing Enid to amputate it completely back at camp. Naturally, Daryl is pissed at the saviour responsible for the disaster, beating him repeatedly and trading verbal blows with Rich, who instead decides upon banishment as the most appropriate punishment. Alas, before he can make it very far, the exile is murdered by an unknown assailant.

Meanwhile, Anne and Gabriel develop a burgeoning romance but, during her night shift, the former spots that same helicopter she tried to flag down in season 8, and is visibly worried by its presence. Michonne travels to Hilltop to bargain with Maggie, who’s angry that the Saviours still haven’t turned up with her shipment of fuel. In the end, she releases her blacksmith and would-be killer Earl from imprisonment, which in turn allows Hilltop to spare more resources for Alexandria, Sanctuary, and The Kingdom. Oh, and Negan shows up right at the end, taunting Rick from his Alexandria-based prison cell with predictions of doom and destruction. Welp.

The Walking Dead S9.03 - Warning Signs

Rick decides to take some time off from being a weathered leader to enjoy some quality time with Michonne and Judith, but when a riot threatens to break out in the woods, his leisure time is cut short. The Saviours are getting agitated about the mysterious deaths of several members of their team, forcing Rick to investigate potential suspects. Many are suspicious of Anne, who’s angered by the fact that even Rick has his doubts about her loyalty. She sneaks off to her old Junkyard to reestablish contact with the helicopter she spotted in the last episode, and strikes a deal for an evac. Fortunately for her, Gabriel has followed her there, and upon discovering her intentions to flee, tells Anne that he plans to inform Rick about everything. In response, Anne knocks out her lover, presumably to use him as her bargaining chip for safe passage with the chopper. 

After Rick fails to find the murderer and soothe tensions, an aggressive trio of Saviours capture Carol and threaten to kill her unless Alexandria gives them back their guns. Thankfully, Rick and Carol are able to get the upper hand against them, but spares the contingent from punishment by death, promising that “every life matters”. Meanwhile, Maggie, and Daryl catch Oceanside red-handed, performing an execution on one of the Saviours during the night. Cyndie admits to the killings, but neither Daryl or Maggie do anything to stop them, instead walking away like it never happened, with the former ominously telling the latter that “it’s time to see Negan”.

The Walking Dead S9.04 - The Obliged

Michonne is finding it difficult to adjust to life in Alexandria, sneaking out at night to let off some steam by killing as many zombies as she can find. After a heart-to-heart with Negan, who is refusing to eat, she begins to worry whether she’s starting to turn into the former Savior king himself. Meanwhile, Anne decides to spare Gabriel's life, instead knocking him out and fleeing alone, presumably via the mysterious helicopter we still know so little about. Maggie begins her infiltration into Alexandria, while Daryl prevents Rick from stopping her by literally punching him into a giant pit. 

Both stuck at the bottom, the pair hash out their differences just in time to stop a massive herd of zombies overcoming the camp in the forest, who have been drawn there after a group of Saviors open fire upon Carol and The Kingdom. Having barely escaped the pit, Rick tries to draw away the herd from his people on horseback, but accidentally leads them into another massive herd along the way. Before he can even do anything to stop them merging, Rick’s horse panics and hurls him onto an open pipe, leaving him skewered and unconscious as the zombies close in en masse. Aaaand cut to black. 

The Walking Dead S9.05 - What Comes After

After freeing himself from a tricky situation, Rick deliriously meanders back to the bridge with the herd of zombies hot on his tail, experiencing all sorts of throwback hallucinations along the way. Meanwhile, Maggie finally makes it to Alexandria and, after a tense chat with Michonne, reacquaints with Negan with the intent to kill him. But the man in the cell is a husk where Negan used to be, and Maggie decides imprisonment to be a fate worse than death for the former villain, leaving him to wail and rot in his confinement. 

Rick makes it to the bridge just before Maggie, Daryl, Michonne and Carol find him, and realises that, in order to prevent the herd making it to Alexandria, he must blow himself, his bridge, and thousands of zombies into oblivion by shooting some conveniently placed dynamite on the floor. The entire thing is sent tumbling in the river, but Rick washes ashore downstream next to Anne, who smuggles him out of Atlanta via the mysterious helicopter she's been in contact with since season 9's beginning. Flash forward six years later, and we meet a young Judith Grimes saving a new group survivors from a pack of zombies. Wait, what?! I guess we'll find out what's happened over the course of this time jump in the next episode...

The Walking Dead S9.06 - Who Are You Now?

Following on from last episode's six year time jump, Who Are You Now? is all about catching viewers up on the highlights that have happened in between. Alexandria is thriving, with its council of OG characters implementing a strict immigration policy following some unknown event which has apparently lead to Michonne being branded with an 'X' on her back and has isolated the three main communities from each other. Speaking of, Michonne is now a single mother to Rick's two children, Judith and the newly introduced R.J., while Carol and Ezekiel are leading The Kingdom as royals, having adopted Henry as their surrogate son. 

Let's see... what else? Oh yeah; Daryl is wandering the earth as a nomadic hermit, Gabriel and Rosita are lovers, Negan appears to be on the path to redemption (despite still being locked up in his cell), the Saviours are all but dead (with Carol burning alive the last remaining remnants), and The Whisperers show up right at the end, pursuing Rosita and a smitten Eugene amongst a large Walker herd. After Alexandria's council votes against accepting the four new survivors from episode 6 into their ranks, Michonne promises to take them to Hilltop, where an unnamed female leader awaits (we know this isn't Maggie, who's now left the show, so who could this be?). Carol, Henry, and Daryl are also on their way to the agrarian community, so expect to see a reunion of sorts in episode 7. 

When does The Walking Dead air?

The Walking Dead season 9 release date was October 7 when its premiere aired on AMC in the United States, but for UK viewers, FOX broadcast the first episode a little later, on Monday, October 8, 2018 at 9pm BST. If you're not subscribed to either of those channels, you can learn more about how to watch The Walking Dead with our comprehensive viewing guide here.

From the premiere onwards, season 9 will continue to run episodes on a weekly basis, airing on Sunday evenings stateside and the following Mondays in the UK. A mid-season break will take place in November too, though the exact date of the mid-season finale has yet to be confirmed.

The Walking Dead season 9 trailers teases Rick's goodbye and more

We're now at the point where there's almost too many 30 second promos for The Walking Dead season 9, as together they're beginning to reveal quite a bit about the plot and setting of this next chapter. In spite of that, the "New Beginnings" teaser, seen above, is worth a watch, purely for the way it splices footage from The Walking Dead's eight year history alongside glimpses of season 9.

Speaking of which, is that scene on the bridge at the 0:19 mark the one in which Rick will say goodbye? He doesn't look too happy about his present situation, that's for sure. Speaking of which, AMC is really going to town with its "Rick Grimes: The Final Episodes" moniker, which appears in giant, dramatic font throughout the promo. Sounds like we'd best bring plenty of tissues in preparation. 

The latest promo for The Walking Dead season 9 introduces yet more clarity and mystery into details surrounding the upcoming story, with a large slogan at the end making it abundantly clear that these will indeed be "Rick Grimes' final episodes", whether our hearts can take it or not.

The 30 second teaser reveals the existence of a new location called Toledo (could this be AMC's take on The Commonwealth community of the source material?), while also hinting at further conflict not just between Sanctuary and Alexandria, but among Rick and Daryl, who are still at loggerheads over the blurry ethics of leadership in the zombie apocalypse. C'mon, guys, just kiss and make up already!

There'e another 30 second promo for The Walking Dead season 9 which can be viewed courtesy of IGN, who also spoke to new showrunner Angela Kang about Rick and Maggie's impending departure. "Obviously there’s a lot of expectations and we really hope that we don’t let people down", states Kang in the interview, "But I do think it’s an incredibly emotional journey and I think the performances and the work that people have done are pretty amazing."

Kang also clarified that the time jump between season 8 and season 9 is 18 months, revealing that Negan's been in solitary confinement the entire time, hence his embittered, vengeful narration that plays over this brief teaser trailer for what's to come. "You're not saving the world", he says threateningly to Rick, "you’re just getting it ready for me."

AMC has released its second, big trailer for The Walking Dead season 9 following Comic Con earlier this year, and though shorter in length, it's still an action-packed sizzle reel of drama, violence, and plenty of zombies. Some interesting highlights? It looks like the tension between Rick and Maggie, and their competing world views on leadership in the apocalypse, will come to a head this season and... wait a second. Is that Michonne holding Lucille at around the 0:17 mark? That can't be good... 

In addition to that new trailer, AMC has also released this new sneak peek clip of season 9's premiere, which sees Carol and Daryl sharing another tender, albeit platonic moment together in the quiet of the darkness. There's obviously very mild spoilers for viewers planning on going into season 9 dark, but the preview does show us that - amidst all the bubbling tension between Alexandria and Hilltop this season - this pair are still very much on the same team. 

If you want to take another look at the very first The Walking Dead season 9 trailer released at Comic Con, it's above and it has a lot going on. We see Rick with his “old man” beard, Maggie’s baby for the first time, and and as we’re getting a time jump, it’s likely that any assumptions we draw may not make sense. However, there’s one shot that stands out above the rest, and that’s around the 1:29 mark where we see what’s left of the OG crew charging across a bridge, while Rick sits propped up, with blood all over his shirt. Might this be his death scene?

The Walking Dead season 9 cast - who's in and who's out?

This last year we’ve seen some big stuff kick off in the show. Sure, season 8 did drag, but at times it unleashed its brilliance in short bursts. We lost Carl - sorry, Coral - and now it looks like we’re going to be losing another of the original gang, Rick. Andrew Lincoln confirmed at Comic Con that he’s leaving the show in the middle of season 9, though did strangely tease that "my relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over." Indeed, the actor will be returning at the very least as a director for The Walking Dead season 10 next year, so his journey with the show continues from behind the camera, even if he never intends to be back in front of it. 

Read more

How to watch The Walking Dead season 9 (or catch up in time for the premiere)

As for how Rick Grimes will bow out, we may have already learned too much via Daryl's own Norman Reedus himself. In a recent interview with ComicBook.com, Reedus described what it was like to film Lincoln's last scene on The Walking Dead season 9, revealing that "he's laying there, and he's supposed to giggle." Uhhh.. what? Judging from this, either everyone's favourite post-apocalyptic sheriff has gone completely mad with delirium, or his exit from the show will be a surprisingly positive one. 

But with everyone’s favourite sheriff out of the picture, where does that leave everyone else? As suspected, Norman Reedus’ role will be beefed up considerably due to Lincoln’s exit. Elsewhere, Lauren Cohan is staying put for six of the first eight episodes, but she’s out for the remainder of the season, and the actress has expressed doubt in an interview with GameSpot over whether she'll ever return. 

"It feels like the greatest way to honor it is to keep it open-ended because whether it's about me going back as Maggie or whether it's about me just taking in, absorbing, and honoring everything I've learned there," said Cohen. "It never leaves me. It will never, ever leave me. And that is I think the greatest compliment you can give to anything and to any group of people because we all came together to make something that we didn't know was going to have this success that it did."

In better news, AMC has made a few more hires to balance out the departures, with Samantha Morton cast as Alpha, leader of The Whisperers (more on those guys below), and former Sons of Anarchy star Ryan Hurst set to play Beta, her second in command. These newcomers won't be able to completely make up for the loss of Rick and Maggie, but it's a start.

What is The Walking Dead season 9 plot about?

The all-out war is over. Negan’s behind bars, and the remaining communities - Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Sanctuary and the Kingdom - are attempting to be civil. How long will that last? Well, as the trailers signal, disharmony is en route as the various camps come to blows. We are set to head into the the New World Order arc from the comics, so that means we are getting a time jump. But before that: we at last meet The Whisperers. The comic book baddies made their debut in the final scenes of the trailer.

Another element of the post-Rick story also looks likely to include the Commonwealth - yet another community from the comics, who are mentioned in the Comic Con trailer. We see a sign affixed to a windmill with the words “Commonwealth Windmill & Pump Service. Saltville, VA.”, which seems like a strong hint that they’re likely to appear. In the comics, the Commonwealth consists of 50,000 people spread over several smaller communities, and most of them are wealthy survivors. Of course, having cash in the post-apocalyptic world doesn’t mean much, so we’ll have to wait and see what else they’ve got in store. 

Finally, there's good news for fans of Carzekiel, the will-they-won't-they romance between Carol and King Ezekiel that blossomed into a genuine love affair by the end of season 8. The newly released image above shows that the happy couple are still infatuated with each other, while unofficial reports suggest that an official Carzekiel wedding could even be on the cards for season 9, as corroborated by Skybound's confirmation that Glenn and Maggie won't be the last newly married duo to ever appear on the show. Could we be hearing the pitter patter of little Carzekiel feet by season 10? 

And while you ponder the possibilities of all that, check out our breakdown of The Walking Dead season 8 ending, where we question yet more mysteries and possibilities.