“A New Beginning”
A year and a half has passed since the end of All Out War. Alexandria has been mostly rebuilt after the fire and is full of new life. Rick, who’s grayer happily watches Michonne paint with Judith. We then see the Sanctuary, which has replaced their walker-filled yard with crops. Rosita and Eugene make lemonade while the Saviors give their reports to Daryl, who’s now running the place. He rides off to meet Rick, Michonne, Ezekiel, Maggie, and the others in downtown Washington DC.
Rick and the gang break into the Smithsonian to search for a covered wagon and farming equipment. A walker drops from a balcony and onto a fragile glass floor, cracking the pane. Cyndie sees an old canoe and gets triggered by a memory she had with her brother, who died when Simon attacked Oceanside. Daryl relates to her and the two of them lift the canoe. Siddiq gets attacked by a walker whose head is full of spiders. He barely manages to kill it so Rick and Enid make fun of him for freaking out.
While searching for old civilization tools Maggie fills Michonne and Carol in that Gregory called for an election at the Hilltop and lost, making Maggie the rightful leader. Shortly after, the whole crew gingerly uses ropes to drag an old covered wagon down the stairs and over the glass floor (as walkers roam below). The glass finally gives way and Ezekiel falls through and dangling as the walkers claw and bite at him. Daryl shoots some as Rick and the others finally pull him to safety. Carol joyfully kisses him to celebrate.
The gang leaves DC and heads back home. Alden talks to new guys Ken and Marco about blacksmithing while Ezekiel proposes to Carol. She tells him to put the ring away and reminds him she doesn’t want to be asked yet, especially on a horse. Rosita and Daryl catch up with everyone to inform them the bridge is out, so they concoct a new plan.
The wagon gets caught in the mud as walkers emerge from the woods. It finally budges and everyone rushes to gather the supplies until the walkers overwhelm them and they’re forced to leave. Ken runs back to free his horses but is bitten in the arm by a walker. Siddiq and Enid try to save him but it’s too late. Maggie sobs by his side before putting a knife in his head.
That night, Maggie breaks the news of Ken’s death to his parents Tammy and Earl. An emotional Tammy scolds Maggie for getting her son killed, reminding her she voted for her in the election. Earl tries to calm her down but Tammy isn’t having it. Maggie offers to help with the funeral but Tammy declines and criticizes her decision to supply the Saviors. Later, the Hilltop gathers for Ken’s funeral. Gregory gives a eulogy and then stares down Maggie watching from the balcony.
Rick and Daryl arrive at the Sanctuary to deliver supplies. Michonne points out graffiti that proclaims, “We are still Negan” and Daryl demands Justin clean it up. Rick promises the Saviors he’ll continue to support them so they can get back on their feet. Shortly after, Daryl pulls Rick aside to tell him he no longer wants to lead this place because it’s fruitless (literally). He suggests he return to Hilltop but Rick argues he should return to Alexandria. “Things have changed,” Rick says, but Daryl claims it’s because Rick changed them. Carol follows Daryl outside and offers to take over the Sanctuary for him. She tells him about Zeke’s proposal and says she wants to take her time. Daryl’s surprised and asks if he should stay with her. She declines and rests her head on his shoulder.
Back at Hilltop, Tammy mourns her son while Gregory gets Earl drunk and suggests Maggie doesn’t have to be the leader anymore. Rick and Michonne settle into bed and Michonne asks if they did the right thing by letting Negan live. Rick stands by it and she proposes they create a charter (don’t call it a constitution) between the communities laying out guidelines and punishments for the communities. Rick agrees and tells her how lucky he is to have found her.
Maggie takes Hershel out for a stroll and runs into Gregory, who tells her someone may have defaced Glenn’s grave. Upset, she rushes towards the grave and is attacked by a hooded stranger who also knocks over Hershel’s stroller. Enid intervenes but gets quickly knocked out. Alden and Cyndie grab the assailant and Maggie rips off his hood – it’s Earl. Maggie rushes over to Gregory’s place and accuses him of trying to get her killed. He reminds her he built this place and tries to stab her with a knife, but she overpowers him and holds it to his neck.
The next day, Carol tells Ezekiel she’s staying at Sanctuary and instructs Jerry to take care of him as they head off. Daryl, Michonne, and Rick arrive at Hilltop to find the workers building gallows. Later, Rick asks Maggie to visit Alexandria but she says she can’t because Negan’s there. He asks for her help in fixing the bridge, which includes providing supplies to the Sanctuary. She says she’ll only agree if the Saviors agree to provide the labor and fuel. Rick says he can’t and he’s obliged to help, but Maggie disagrees and reminds her that he never ended up following her like he promised, but he should.
That night, the Hilltop gathers around the gallows as Maggie explains to her people that the punishment fits the crime. She looks on at Gregory, who has a noose around his neck and is sitting on a horse. Gregory pleads for someone to stop this, but no one moves. Kids show up and Michonne yells for Maggie to stop but it’s too late – Daryl smacks the horse and it rides off, leaving Gregory to hang to death. Maggie tells her people she wants this to be the last time they do something like this.
What did YOU think of The Walking Dead Season 9 Premiere? Did it hit on all the stories you wanted to see? Did you like the new characters? And on a scale from happy to elated how much did you enjoy Gregory’s death? Let us know in the comments and make sure to catch our comic/show comparisons!