(We’ve got some spoilers ahead for the March 29 episode of “The Walking Dead,” as well as potentially the future of the series)
It looks like the Whisperer war is finally reaching its climax. Alpha (Samantha Morton) is dead, and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is apparently the new Alpha since he killed her. But Beta (Ryan Hurst) is still out there, and he’s got a new horde, and he’s bringing it directly at the good guys.
It’s a pretty impossible-looking situation — the residents of Alexandria and the other communities have spent a long time perfecting a system for controlling zombie hordes specifically to prevent a large group of them from descending on them, because they’re just not equipped to handle it. And with Hilltop gone, it’s really looking like next week we’re gonna have a last stand sort of situation.
And so Eugene finally told everyone about his radio girlfriend, Stephanie. The two of them have a date coming up, and Eugene is hoping that Stephanie’s people, whoever they are, can help Alexandria head off this looming disaster. So Eugene heads out to the meeting with Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and the ailing Ezekiel (Khary Payton). So lets talk about what might be in store next week, if “The Walking Dead” show follows the path set by the comics.
We’ve got some spoilers here now for the comics and, presumably, upcoming seasons of the show. So if you don’t want to know anything about the future of “The Walking Dead,” you probably should leave now. If that’s you I’m not really sure why you’re even reading this article, honestly.
In the comics, that voice on the radio belongs to a woman named Stephanie, who befriends Eugene (Josh McDermitt) via the radio over the course of the conflict with the Whisperers before revealing that she belongs to a previously unknown group called the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth is completely unlike any group we’ve yet seen on “The Walking Dead,” because they have an actual city of more than 50,000 people in Ohio. It’s an actual civilization, and not just an assortment of communities like the ones our heroes live in. The Commonwealth is a game changer, and very different sort of story than what we’re used to from “The Walking Dead” because it’s, so far in the books at least, more about diplomacy than war.
What’s more, there have been elements added to the TV version of “The Walking Dead” that were not in the books that we have long suspected were precursors to the Commonwealth plotline. Georgie, for example, was a big one, because she looked very similar to how the leader of the Commonwealth, Pamela Milton, is drawn in the comics. Likewise, we’ve suspected that the mysterious helicopter that took Rick (Andrew Lincoln) away early in season 9 also came from the Commonwealth, though for what purpose we still don’t know. There were more helicopter folks in “Fear the Walking Dead” last season, much to everyone’s surprise.
The Commonwealth story, then, could well bring certain odd plot threads — like Maggie (Lauren Cohan) leaving the Hilltop to travel with Georgie — back into the main story somehow. And whatever these standalone movies that will tell the rest of Rick’s story are could serve as preludes to the Commonwealth story getting going in “The Walking Dead” proper.
Showrunner Angela Kang and “Walking Dead” overboss Scott Gimple have been sprinkling in these bits for so long that it’s exciting to think they might be getting close to paying all that stuff off. The show had never really worked this way before, and I think it’s pretty cool.
Before watching this episode, I would have guessed that Eugene and Stephanie wouldn’t meet until the season 10 finale. That would be exactly the sort of cliffhanger that “The Walking Dead” creatives love to do — remember that time they had Negan murder a main character in a season finale but made us wait six months to find out who it was?
But based on this setup, it actually seems more like the Commonwealth will have a part to play in the resolution of the war with the Whisperers. And assuming they are the helicopter people who took Rick away, the clearly have some pretty advanced medical tech — maybe they can save Ezekiel too.
It may be a while before we see how this plays out, though. While the next episode will air as scheduled next week, the season 10 finale of “The Walking Dead” was delayed because AMC hasn’t been able to finish post-production due to the coronavirus pandemic. But with the way this episode went, I wouldn’t be surprised if something happens with Stephanie’s folks next week.