AMC might have been worried that the already-declining ratings for The Walking Dead would have dipped even further following Andrew Lincoln’s much-publicized exit the other week, but as it happens, season 9 held steady with the first episode of the brave new post-Rick Grimes era of the zombie drama.
Coming up against Sunday Night Football, episode 6 – titled “Who Are You Now?” – earned a steady 5.4 million viewers and a 2.0. rating in the coveted demographic of adults in the ages of 18-49. That’s pretty much as close to even as you’re going to get, as this episode only lost 1% of viewers from Lincoln’s swansong, which indicates that fans really don’t care that the show’s old protagonist has left and are in it for the long haul.
Perhaps the enticing cliffhanger of episode 5 is what convinced them to return the following Sunday. After Rick was whisked away in a helicopter, the action zoomed forwards 6 years and teased how different things had become since everyone else had to pick up the pieces in his absence. Hopefully the same trick will work this time around as well, as episode 6 dropped several breadcrumbs to be picked up later. For one, was that Rick’s son that Michonne was seen with? And were those the Whisperers hunting Eugene and Rosita?
It should go without saying, but these two episodes bode well for the next couple of installments in this half of season 9. After a drop in the middle there, with one episode snagging the show a series-low for ratings, these two are the most-viewed outings since the season 9 finale earned 6.1 million. If we’re now counting that as a high mark, though, it seems that the days of TWD reaching over 10 million week after week are gone for good.
Regardless, you can do your bit to help the cause by tuning in to watch The Walking Dead season 9 every Sunday on AMC.