Warning: There are massive spoilers ahead for season nine, episode five of “The Walking Dead,” “What Comes After.”
Rick’s final episode of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” jumped ahead several years in the zombie apocalypse, revealing an older Judith Grimes. But it wasn’t made clear exactly how much time transpired since Rick’s disappearance on the mystery helicopter.
“We’re saying that it’s a six-year time jump,” showrunner Angela Kang confirmed to INSIDER. “She’s [Judith] about four, four-and-a-half when we start the season and then we jump to her being 10 years old, much like Carl was in the comic book and when he started on the show.”
The second time jump may have been a surprise to many, since it’s something that doesn’t occur in Robert Kirkman’s comics of the same name.
“I think part of it was looking for things nine seasons in that we haven’t done before just to keep staying creatively exciting for us as storytellers,” said Kang, “but also hopefully for the fans and one of the things that we really wanted to do this season was play with time and see what we could do to change the rhythms of our storytelling.”
Kang said there was another big reason to jump right ahead after Rick’s intended death and that involved seeing how people have reacted to so many big deaths on the show before him.
“I think we’ve seen what grief in the immediate aftermath of of a death or loss has done to our people and it was really interesting, to me, to think about, ‘What is a person’s impact on people even years after they’re gone?’ So, that was part of the story we wanted to tell,” said Kang.
So expect to see the ripple effects of Rick’s absence on the episodes to come.
On a brighter note, Kang said she and the creative team were excited to explore putting Grimes’ daughter at the forefront of the show. Judith was first introduced on season three of the show when she was born at the prison.
“We also just got really excited about seeing Judith,” said Kang. “It doesn’t even make sense that she survived. If you’re looking at this world, there’s no reason why this child should have survived infancy and yet she did because this community banded around her to protect her and to help her thrive and she has this amazing mother in Michonne.”
Kang also teased some moments fans should be on the lookout for inspired by the comics. Spoiler: Judith is getting the Carl Grimes’ treatment from Kirkman’s series.
“We got really excited about seeing this child of the apocalypse at the same age that Carl was, who was not a child of the apocalypse, and just see what kind of child you are when you grow up like that, to see her hopefulness, and her strength, and to also play some of the comic-book moments like between Judith and Negan that we didn’t get to play with Carl and Negan in the same way,” added Kang about visiting other moments in the comics on screen. “There were just a lot of advantages that we thought were exciting and hopefully surprising for people.”
Since six years is a lot of time to transpire on the show after Rick’s disappearance, Kang said you can expect to see some flashes back to the past.
“There are definitely some ways that we are going back in time and telling some pieces of the story,” Kang confirmed. “We’re a show that over the years, I think has existed really pretty much in the present because we like to keep things moving forward. That’s an aesthetic that I really like about the show, I want to keep, but, that said, there are some very specific pieces of the story that we want to fill in over the course of the season. There will be some interesting flips back in time.”
You can look forward to seeing more of the time jump and our new Judith on next week’s episode. “The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. You can follow along with our show coverage here.