(Warning: Spoilers ahead for “The Walking Dead” Season 9 premiere, “A New Beginning”)
The anticipated Season 9 premiere of “The Walking Dead” was an extra-long episode, and the added minutes saw the death of a certain ex-Hilltop leader. That death will have “consequences” that will impact the entire season, according to showrunner Angela Kang.
“A New Beginning” sees a time jump to 18 months after the Season 8 finale’s culmination of “All Out War.” Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) has been hard at work bringing the people of Alexandria, Hilltop, Oceanside and the Sanctuary together, and there seems to be relative peace at the opening of the episode. But it soon becomes clear that that peace won’t last forever.
We learn that Maggie has been elected the new leader of the Hilltop, beating out Gregory, who turns out to be quite the sore loser. He tries to kill Maggie and the attempt causes Maggie to make an example of him by ordering he be hanged in the dead of night.
Maggie’s decision to kill Gregory will have ramifications that ripple throughout the entire season, Kang told TheWrap, adding that the premiere episode acts as “the first… in a line of dominoes” to fall.
“For Maggie’s point of view, in that episode, we really wanted to establish that she is… developing a different philosophy of leadership,” Kang said. “Maggie is finding her own voice, and it’s a voice that Rick has encouraged.”
Maggie says as much to Rick in a scene on her porch at the Hilltop, and after Gregory’s hanging, she tells her community that she doesn’t want execution to become a regular activity. But, Kang said, that doesn’t mean that Gregory’s death won’t have its own ramifications.
“But of course, like anything, [it] has its consequences,” Kang said. “And anything that’s as big as an execution that’s really kind of done in this very vigilante style — like in the dead of night trying not to let the children see it, with torches and everything — it’s going to have a reaction from the various people who are seeing it.”
“It means different things to different people,” she continued. “And so we thought that was an interesting [thing] to explore, the way that one event can just ripple out towards so many different people and in unexpected ways.”
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.