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A decade later and AMC's The Walking Dead will be taking us to a place the zombie-killing franchise has never gone before: outer space. Yes, really.
This cosmic setting for Season 10 was revealed today during the show's NYCC panel at Madison Square Garden, where the first few minutes of the season premiere were screened for the audience. It was the same clip that dropped online yesterday with one small addition: The episode debut kicks things off with an old Soviet satellite circling the Earth's orbit before cutting to the present day, where the survivors wreck a bunch of waterlogged zombies on "Training Day." Forming an armed phalanx of shields, spears, archers, and javelins, they look more like ancient Spartan warriors than modern-day humans. The standouts are definitely Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming), who stab zombies in the head and slice their faces off.
"We’re trying to do new things, push in new directions," showrunner/executive producer Angela Kang said of the Space Age introduction. “We were just trying to brainstorm different things [we hadn’t seen in the show before and were like,] 'Oh, that’s fun, we haven’t done space in the show.' It plays into the themes of paranoia and always being watched."
Just as Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) left the show during Season 9, Gurira will be doing the same with Michonne after Season 10. When it came time to talk about her departure, the Black Panther alum got the biggest applause of the morning, and her cast members even stood up to honor her.
“She’s in me. She’s my bone marrow," Gurira said of the katana-wielding character. "The beauty of my journey has been all about this amazing fandom. Right from the jump, I was embraced by the fans ... That sort of embracing invigorated me to give it my all ... It's the fans that have really given me everything ... It made me want to be a part of this forever. I love you guys and I will always love you guys, so thank you."
At the very end of the panel, a fan dressed as Negan with a Jason Voorhees mask was invited onto the stage to take a selfie with the cast. Said "fan" turned out to be none other than Lauren Cohan, who was finally able to unveil the return of Maggie Greene in Season 11, which Kang confirmed. She couldn't say much about what her character's been up to since the time jump, but the actor is just super happy to return to the zombie-filled world she had been a part of for so many years.
“[It feels] completely surreal. It feels like just like home and it feels so emotional. It feels really, really good. I can’t put it into words—I just feel like this is a very special Comic Con and this is a very special family," said Cohan. "I think we always knew we were gonna try to find this re-entry, the right time for the continuation of [Maggie's] story ... And she never even leaves. You're with the character so long, she's a part of you ... It didn't feel weird [getting back into the character]. I'm just honestly interested in what we're gonna be able to say because we've had such huge passages of time and ... She's gonna be coming back, [but] we don't know what she's gonna be doing."
And since we've broached the subject of Negan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan said that his bat-swinging antihero is finally getting out of jail this season. He described his freedom as "refreshing," but added that we shouldn't expect a redemption story for the character.
"I’m telling you, this year’s gonna rock," Morgan stated. “You get to see another side of Negan ... We’ve got this three-dimensional character ... There’s always an edge to him, and that’s not gonna go away.”
When it comes to new faces for the new season, Paola Lázaro (Lethal Weapon) has been cast as Juanita Sanchez, aka "The Princess."
A character ripped straight out of Robert Kirkman's Skybound comic, "Princess is a sassy spear-wielding, goggle-wearing, fuzzy pink jacket-rocking free spirit (with purple hair) originally encountered in Pittsburgh during our heroes’ trek to Commonwealth in Issue 171." Since she was the only human individual left in the Pennsylvania steel town, Sanchez dubbed herself “'The Princess of Pittsburgh,' because 'Queen' would (to her) make her sound too old. She eventually joins the gang’s convoy to the massive Ohio community, which kicks off one of the final chapters in The Walking Dead comics."
When it comes to antagonists (aside from the Walkers, of course), the Whisperers, led by Samantha Morton’s Alpha and Ryan Hurst’s Beta, are still looming large. Kirkman promised that we’d see some cool stuff from the Whisperer War storyline this season.
Season 10 of The Walking Dead premieres on AMC tomorrow evening, Sunday, Oct. 6, at 9 p.m. EST.
“We’re getting all these episodes ready for air, and every single one of them I’m like, 'Holy sh**!,'" said Kang.
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