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The Walking Dead shambled back onto AMC Sunday evening for the second part of its eleventh and final season (there will be a total of three, eight-episode blocks in the run-up to the series finale). Episode 9 (titled "No Other Way") effectively wrapped up the parallel storylines involving the Reapers and destructive rainstorm/raging windmill fire at Alexandria before jumping six months into the future during its final moments.
In the span of about 30 seconds, we learn that not everyone accepted Lance Hornsby's tantalizing offer to become a member of the Commonwealth. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) went back to restart the Hilltop community while Daryl (Norman Reedus) joined up with the Commonwealth military force. There's clearly some friction between the two allies and it seems as though Daryl is willing to huff and puff and blow Hilltop's front gate down if Maggie doesn't let him in willingly.
So what happened in the last half a year?
"He has joined up with the troops and so we will find out shortly what that is all about, but he is now part of the Commonwealth army," showrunner Angela Kang remarked in a post-episode breakdown interview with Entertainment Weekly. "So that definitely puts him in a different situation and potentially at odds with Maggie, who clearly in the time that has passed has either stayed or retreated to Hilltop. Whereas who knows where everybody else has landed."
That mystery is partially solved by the short teaser for next week's installment, which reveals that Carol (Melissa McBride), Rosita (Christian Serratos), and Magna (Nadia Hulker) end up at the Commonwealth alongside Daryl, Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Princess (Paola Lázaro), and Ezekiel (Khary Payton). This thriving echo of a world that once was seems like a utopian paradise, but it could also spell disaster for the heroes we've grown to love over the years.
Is another war — this one civil in nature — brewing just over the horizon?
"I will just say that, after having been kind of in lockstep for a lot of the start of the season, Maggie and Daryl, obviously kind of split ways in terms of like the decision making at the end of Episode 9, and maybe that affects some things going forward," Kang explained.
Episode 9 also saw the departure of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who wised up to the fact that he would never be truly safe around Maggie. She's still understandably a little bitter over the fact that the ex-Savior beat her husband to death with a baseball bat.
"I think in their own way, they are making peace with each other by saying we should just not occupy the same spheres," Kang added, dancing around the topic of where Negan is headed next. "And he's taking his destiny in his hand beyond that. want people to watch and see what happens next, but we will pick Negan back up in a very different context."
The first 10 episodes of the eleventh and final season are available to stream on AMC+. Subscribers to the service can watch new episodes a week before they air on television. A premiere date for the last batch of episodes has yet to be announced.