The Walking Dead logo is springing to life after years of decay — and it’s no accident

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Sep 7, 2018, 2:47 PM EDT

When the credits come up next month on the extended-length first episode in Season 9 of AMC's The Walking Dead, sharp-eyed fans may notice the show’s logo looking a little more verdant and nature-y, after years and years of progressive decay. According to showrunner Angela Kang, you definitely aren’t seeing things — and the show’s reskinned, overgrown logo looks that way for a reason.

With all the strife and loss of the pass few seasons — not to mention a dip in viewership as Season 8 killed off major characters and veered the show further from its graphic novel roots — things have been getting more than a little desperate and dreary for the survivors who remain in the wake of Rick and Carl Grimes’ gut-wrenching departures

But with a fresh new season on the horizon, and the survivors finally able to think about their long-term futures after a hard-fought battle against Negan and the Saviors, the start of Season 9 marks the turning of a page on past struggles, Kang recently explained to Insider.

“In previous seasons, the logo in the main titles was gradually decaying along with the world and the zombies in the show. The solid stone letters overgrown with greenery in the season 9 logo reflects the fact that we're jumping into a new chapter of the story where our characters are rebuilding and nature is thriving — for better and worse,” said Kang.

That last bit about “better and worse” is especially interesting, since it suggests that nature, dispassionate as ever to the plight of human beings, promises to be both a boon and a curse as the survivors try to pry from its resistant hands a place of civilized refuge. Preview trailers for Season 9 already have hinted that the group won’t simply face the usual lineup of outside opposition (bad guys, zombies), but will also face the kind of conflict that arises from trying to build something new: internal power struggles and a harsh, forbidding environment.

It’s also probably in keeping with the overall premise of both the comics and the show. While Dead and its spinoffs have successfully kept the true nature of the apocalyptic walker virus mysterious over the years, there’s no denying the zombie apocalypse is a textbook case of nature having its way with the human body. 

From what we’ve seen of the setup for Season 9, it looks as if nature may be threatening to have its way with the human spirit, as well. The Walking Dead returns to AMC on Oct. 7.