In ‘The Walking Dead’ recap for the season 9 debut, Rick and the survivors are trying to create Carl’s utopia for the future but conflicts between communities are still arising…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
After two plus seasons dealing with Negan and the Saviors, ‘The Walking Dead’ is moving forward in season 9 with the already spoiled exit of lead star Andrew Lincoln, who is done playing Rick Grimes after just a few more episodes.
Now there’s a lot to unpack regarding Lincoln’s exit and it’s already been proven time and time again that ‘The Walking Dead’ television series doesn’t necessarily follow the comic book source material upon which its based.
The evidence of that has been shown numerous times with characters being killed off who are still very much alive in the comics — the prime example being Carl Grimes, who was offed last season in quite a surprising move.
While the entire point of ‘The Walking Dead’ has been that any character could go at any time, the entire foundation was built around Rick Grimes. So it’s tough to understand how he will exit ‘The Walking Dead’ along with Lauren Cohan (who plays Maggie Rhee) and this series will carry on without skipping a beat.
Rick and Maggie leaving ‘The Walking Dead’ in whatever manner the writers decide — it’s still unknown if they’ll die or just find another way to leave — truly feels like finality for this show.
That said, ‘The Walking Dead’ is going to continue without either of them but will it be the same show once they are gone?
It’s up to new show runner Angela Kang to prove that ‘The Walking Dead’ is bigger than any one character (or in this case two characters). Will she be able to pull it off and keep the audience tuned in for the entire season and beyond?
That’s the question we’re going to find out as ‘The Walking Dead’ explores brand new territory in season 9 in what could really become the make or break moment for this show.
With that said, let’s recap the season 9 debut of ‘The Walking Dead’ titled ‘New Beginning’…
Life After War
Season 9 of ‘The Walking Dead’ picks up 18 months after the end of ‘All Out War’ that saw Rick lead his survivors to victory over Negan and his Saviors. Now Rick is determined to create the utopian society his son wanted before his death.
Rick has managed to rebuild Alexandria after it was bombed a season ago and the other communities are beginning to thrive as well. Inside those walls, he’s building a life for his family with Judith very much a toddler now, painting pictures and joking about her dad’s growing belly.
Maggie is democratically leading the Hilltop after holding an election and the people voting to keep her in charge rather than returning power to Gregory, who is somehow still lurking in the shadows this season. Jesus and Aaron seem to be growing closer and the Hilltop seems to be thriving more than any other community.
King Ezekiel has a queen in Carol now and the two of them are not only together as a couple but they are helping to get The Kingdom back up and running after a series of tragedies last season.
And finally, Daryl is the man in charge of the Sanctuary, where Eugene is making corn fuel and the people there are starting to get restless without many food supplies and dwindling crops because they live in a factory where nothing really grows. Daryl is doing his best to play leader but he’s never really been the presidential type.
As the episode begins his week, the survivors from all the different communities are teaming up together to raid a museum in Washington D.C. for farming supplies such as seeds for planting as well as a horse drawn carriage that will help transport people from place to place. With fuel supplies running short, Rick and the other leaders from the communities are trying to come up with alternatives with most travel taking place on horseback these days.
As expected, the scavenging mission doesn’t come without risks so it’s not a surprise that Ezekiel nearly gets eaten alive after the group moves some heavy duty equipment over a glass floor that finally gives way with a horde of walkers in the room below. Ezekiel is saved and everybody makes it out of the museum alive before they begin the journey back to the various communities.
After watching his life flash before his eyes, Ezekiel decides to take this moment to propose to Carol while they are riding back home again. Ezekiel proclaims his love and can’t imagine going on without Carol but she refuses his proposal and says it’s not the right time — especially while they are riding on horseback.
Meanwhile en route to the communities, the group gets a message from Rosita that a giant herd managed to collapse one of the bridges used to travel between the communities and the Sanctuary, which means they are going to have to travel the long way around. Along the way, the survivors run into a muddy road where the horses will be unable to pull the carriage and with a large gathering of walkers starting to give chase behind them, they start to realize that this trip may end by going home with nothing in return.
During the melee with the attacking walkers, a Hilltop kid named Ken is bitten and later dies from the wounds he suffered. Maggie is forced to put him down as another member of her community has been taken while she’s trying to help out the Sanctuary, which was the home to the man who killed her husband.
With the sun setting, Rick and Michonne decide to continue the trip with Daryl back to the Sanctuary while Maggie leads her group back to the Hilltop for the night.
Thank You Rick Grimes
Rick, Michonne, Daryl and Carol make their way to the Sanctuary with some of the supplies where they will bed down for the night until they are able to return home the next day. When Rick walks inside, he’s greeted like a conquering hero thanks to all the suppressed people who are now free and no longer living under Negan’s thumb.
As nice as it might be for most folks to be free of Negan, there’s still a festering rebellion that continues to grow at the Sanctuary with messages left on walls that read ‘Saviors save us, we are still Negan’. Daryl has seen more and more of this spring up lately because the Sanctuary is suffering more than the other communities without a natural food source and supplies running short.
That’s when Daryl tells Rick that he no longer wants to lead the Sanctuary. He misses the days when their group was small and they could take on anybody but now the responsibilities are getting to be too much and he wants to get back to work outside these walls. Rick agrees to let him off the hook and Daryl will return to the Hilltop where he plans to check on Maggie and her new baby Hershel (a sweet tribute, especially given the passing of actor Scott Wilson on Saturday).
Rick goes to bed with Michonne messing with him about the people in the Sanctuary treating him like a hero. As for Daryl, he shares a late night conversation with Carol, who tells him that she will be remaining there to lead the Sanctuary in his absence.
The next morning when everybody leaves, Carol promises Ezekiel that she’s not taking this job to create space between them after his proposal. Ezekiel promises to wait for Carol on her own time schedule. Rick, Michonne and Daryl then prepare to leave for the Hilltop to handle some business before some of them head back to Alexandria.
Crime and Punishment
Back at the Hilltop, Maggie has to break the news to Ken’s parents about his death, which results in a fiery response from his mother. She voted for Maggie in the election but now she might be regretting that decision after her son was killed on a run that was specifically done to help the Sanctuary. She wonders if maybe Gregory, who always put the Hilltop first, might have been the better leader. She also tells Maggie she’s not welcome at Ken’s funeral.
Maggie has begrudgingly been dealing with Gregory, who has been friendlier in recent months without stirring up much trouble. Of course that’s a short lived peace because once Gregory sees the anguish in Ken’s parents, he uses that to sew seeds of doubt in Maggie’s leadership and positioning himself to take over.
Along with a bottle of liquor handed over to Ken’s parents — including his father Earl, who was a recovering alcoholic — Gregory continues to build up the idea that maybe the Hilltop would be better off with him in charge.
As for the relationship between Rick and Maggie, they are doing their best to put past grudges to bed after the former allowed Negan to live at the end of the war. Maggie wanted him dead but Rick decided the best way to serve an example for the future was to leave him alive.
Now Rick is back asking Maggie for help yet again by supplying the Sanctuary with more food and then assisting in rebuilding the bridge that will help travel between the communities. Maggie agrees to help but only under her conditions — the majority of the actual labor has to be done by the people from the Sanctuary and in exchange for the food, she wants the bulk of the corn fuel that Eugene has been making.
Maggie then reminds Rick that he once told her that there would be a time in the future where he would be following her but it never happened. Now Maggie is the one in charge and people are going to start following her lead and Rick doesn’t have much to say in return.
Later that night with Ken’s mom passed out drunk, Gregory continues to prey on Earl to help set up his next plan to take out Maggie and assume leadership of the Hilltop once again. Gregory runs into Maggie after leaving Ken’s parents and he mentions to her how somebody defaced Glenn’s grave and she might want to deal with it in the morning.
Gregory knew Maggie wouldn’t wait so she immediately strolls over with baby Hershel to look at what’s been done to Glenn’s grave. As soon as she turns the corner to the graveyard, she’s attacked by somebody in a hood who tries to kill her. Enid even get smacked during the melee but eventually Alden also arrives to lend a helping hand and the masked attacker is revealed to be Earl.
Maggie then decides to confront Gregory for his treachery and at first he pretends like he didn’t have anything to do with what unfolded but then he finally cops to his role in the attempted assassination. Gregory doesn’t believe Maggie has the Hilltop’s best interests at heart and he wanted to take over as leader again.
Gregory finally decides to take matters into his own hands by attempting to stab Maggie but she gets the upper hand on him and holds the knife to his throat instead. Gregory’s continued attempts at insurrection have to end now and Maggie plans on making an example out of him that law and order still exists even in a living hell like the zombie apocalypse.
The next night with an audience that includes a vast majority of the Hilltop along with Ken’s parents as well as Rick and Michonne in attendance, Maggie dishes out justice for Gregory’s attempted murderous coup.
The punishment for his crime will be death and she’s set to hang him to prove that there are laws that must be followed and doing otherwise will have consequences.
Daryl acts as executioner as he slaps the horse holding onto Gregory, who then dangles as he is then strangled to death. Rick refused to kill Negan despite his numerous crimes — including several murders — but Maggie isn’t going to play by his rules any longer. The punishment fits the crime and now Gregory will serve as an example of what happens when you break the law in the Hilltop.
‘The Walking Dead’ returns next Sunday night at 9pm ET on AMC. Check out a preview below: