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Only three episodes of The Walking Dead's final season remain and based on last night's episode, it seems like an epic battle for control of Alexandria is just around the corner.
Speaking with a Commonwealth dispatcher (voiced by surprise guest star, Yvette Nicole Brown), Rosita (Christian Serratos) and a number of other escapees — Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Daryl (Norma Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), Connie (Lauren Ridloff), and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) — learn that the cozy community they've called home since Season 5 has been converted into a mysterious processing facility called Outpost 22, which gives the episode its title. Throughout this conversation, we see that Ezekiel (Chary Payton), Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Kelly (Angel Theory), and an entire busload of exiles have already been taken there for "re-proccessing."
This development isn't entirely unexpected, given that Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) forcibly stormed Alexandria, Hilltop, and Oceanside back in Episode 16. Entertainment Weekly caught up with The Walking Dead showrunner/executive producer Angela Kang to learn more about the reveal, which stemmed from a desire to see one of show's longtime locales bastardized by an invading force.
"It went through a few iterations, so I think we had liked the idea of what would happen if one of our communities, the next time you saw it, had been transformed into something totally different?" she said. "And if the community sort of represented freedom to our heroes, then what if you just flipped that upside down?"
Kang went on to explain that the creative team wavered between Hilltop and an unfamiliar location for the Outpost 22 designation before choosing Alexandria, which made sense both narratively and "budgetarily," as the set already existed. When asked about what exactly goes on at the processing center, she teased a headquarters for soldiers loyal to either Hornsby and/or Pamela Milton (Laila Robbins).
"These aren't the people that Mercer is working with day to day," Kang said. "They are out there because, in some ways, I think Commonwealth practice is a form of manifest destiny, where they're just like, 'Let us spread out and take more things.'"
In a lot of ways, Outpost 22 harkens back to the scattered bases established by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors all those years ago when Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) were still in the picture. It's a smart strategy on the part of the Commonwealth: expand your influence and make it that much harder for hostile parties to wipe you out. Even if they hit your central headquarters, you can still retreat to these off-the-books hideouts.
"They create these outposts that are very secret to give them a foothold to figure out more stuff for themselves," Kang said, later adding: "It's a military outpost, but I think they've also sent some of our folks who were causing trouble in the Commonwealth there. They're like, 'Well, we don't want that to be in our walls,' so it's kind of a prison colony right now."
Naturally, this usurpation cannot stand for very long. Just before the episode cuts to the end credits, Maggie makes a declaration that sounds more like a promise: "We are gonna get our kids, take back our home, and make it right."
Kang concluded: "They're going to go with weapons and guns blazing, and all their smarts, and all of their power and intent, and they're going to try to solve this problem ... But of course, it's The Walking Dead, so things are not going to be so easy. There is going to be some stuff that they have to overcome in the next episode, and things get pretty intense."
New episodes of The Walking Dead premiere on AMC every Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern. AMC+ subscribers can access them a week early.
If you're looking to satisfy your zombie craving immediately, head over to Peacock and check out the movie that kickstarted the entire genre: George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Or check out the SYFY original series, Day of the Dead.