Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen Sunday’s Season 9 premiere of “The Walking Dead,” stop reading and shut off your device.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s note who didn’t succumb to the zombie apocalypse last night: Series star Andrew Lincoln lives to see another week. As fans of “The Walking Dead” learned in July, this season will be the actor’s last in the role of hero sheriff Rick Grimes.
Naturally, details of Rick’s exit have not been made public. When will it happen? (Next week? Next year?) How will it happen? The suspense is almost inhumane.
In the meantime, the show’s writers are serving up some bloody distractions, kicking off the new season with a seriously gruesome death.
Gregory, the Hilltop higher-up played by actor Xander Berkeley, met his maker after botching an attempt to assassinate Maggie (Lauren Cohan), the leader of the Hilltop community. When Maggie realized her political rival was behind the failed coup, she swiftly exacted revenge in the form of a public hanging.
The scene’s brutality and lack of zombie involvement made the death particularly jarring.
As an actor, Berkeley knows how to make a dramatic exit from a TV show. Fans of Fox’s “24” will remember him as crotchety counterterrorism boss George Mason, who contracts lethal radiation poisoning toward the end of Season 2. Already doomed, Mason sacrifices himself by flying a nuclear time bomb into the desert.
By Robert Rorke