It’s a brand new world in The Walking Dead, but it’s not any safer. In the aftermath of the two-year storyline “All-Out War” which saw Negan and Rick come to blows, there’s a new conflict on the horizon — and once again, Negan is at the center of it all.
Spoilers for the Season 8 finale of The Walking Dead ahead.
At the end of “Wrath,” the Season 8 finale of The Walking Dead, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is finally defeated by Rick (Andrew Lincoln). The Saviors are, officially, no more, and have been mercifully spared and absorbed into the Hilltop/Alexandria/Kingdom communities. In the final confrontation, Rick got the upper hand on Negan by slicing his throat. But under Rick’s orders, Siddiq patches Negan up, to Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) ire.
Maggie wants to end Negan once and for all, but with his departed son Carl’s wishes in his heart, Rick spares Negan. He wants to prove Negan that he’s “wrong” about people, and that benevolence and peace is possible, even in this harsh new world. But Maggie isn’t having it. In Gregory’s old office at the Hilltop, Maggie plots a shadowy, ambiguous plan with Jesus and Daryl, both of whom still have their grievances against Negan and want him dead.
“We have a lot to do,” Maggie says in the season finale. “We have to build this place up. Make it work better than before. Make it thrive for the people who live here. We need our strength, the ability to defend ourselves better. We have to have that.”
Jesus answers her, “We will.”
Maggie continues: “But Rick and Michonne, Rick was wrong to do what he did. Michonne too. So we’re gonna bide our time, wait for our moment, and then we’re gonna show him.”
Daryl, stepping out like a BAMF, replies, “Yeah. We will.”
Who exactly are Maggie, Jesus, and Daryl talking about? The exchange immediately cuts to Negan, who is now lying in bed with bandages around his neck, so it’s mighty obvious they intend to harm Negan. But the dialogue and the dark atmosphere also suggests Maggie could be leading a revolt against Rick. So are they plotting against Rick or going after Negan? In a way, both.
By killing Negan under Rick’s nose, which they appear intent to do, Maggie and her cabal will show that Rick isn’t their leader, and that Rick’s ways won’t work now. It may be a brave new world, but that doesn’t mean it will be Rick’s.
Maggie’s ending also suggests a more definitive fate for the vengeful widow next year in Season 9. Cohan, who reportedly has yet to sign a contract for The Walking Dead, is signed on to star in a new ABC pilot Whiskey Cavalier opposite Scandal star Scott Foley. If Whiskey Cavalier is picked up, the schedule may conflict with The Walking Dead, meaning Maggie’s time may be up. But at least we know she won’t go down without a fight.
AMC’s The Walking Dead Season 9 will return in 2018.