Forget everything you’ve heard about The Walking Dead season nine.  This is truly a ‘New Beginning.’ This was an extended episode so sit back and enjoy.

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Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) gave a brief recap of the war with the Saviors. Alexandria, Hilltop, the Kingdom, and Oceanside teamed up together to defeat Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors. In an act of mercy, Rick let Negan live. A move that Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) did not agree with.  Rick says it’s time to heal and to forgive. The new world begins.

It’s been a year and a half since the war ended.  Alexandria is rebuilding with new buildings, solar panels, windmills, and gardens.  We start the season with a look at Rick and Michonne’s world. Baby Judith is a little older and seems to be well aware of who her friends are.  It’s a nice little Grimes family moment.

The Sanctuary on the other hand looks pretty dry. They are trying to grow corn for fuel. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) oversees their progress with Rosita (Christian Serratos).  Daryl (Norman Reedus) has been put in charge of the Sanctuary, but it’s obvious that he’s not happy, when Justin (Zach McGowan) and Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow) put a walker up in the corn crops to scare away the birds. He kills the walker after they spent all that time putting it up.  

Daryl wants to go on a supply run. The Sanctuary is not doing as well as the other communities.  So he asks for everyone’s help to get supplies from Washington DC. Eugene calls Tara (Alanna Masterson) who calls Jesus (Tom Payne) to get everyone gathered. Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Jesus are killing walkers together when Aaron asks Jesus to teach him karate.  

Everyone gathers at the rally point and head in to the city. Daryl is the only one on a fuel power vehicle. Everyone else is on horseback or in a buggy pulled by horses.  When they get to the museum, the group splits up. Some stay outside, some go into the museum. Rick leads one group downstairs and Michonne leads a group up the stairs.  

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Sydney Park as Cyndie – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Upstairs they look for information and tools that will help advance their communities. They find a canoe, a man powered plow, and a wagon. While they are looking around, Maggie tells Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carol (Melissa McBride) about the Hilltop election.  It was Gregory’s (Xander Berkeley) idea to hold an election to see who would run the Hilltop. Maggie won.

Downstairs, Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) leads the group to a room where there are seeds of every kind.  She used to be a teacher and had been in that room before. The museum collected every kind of seed known to man to preserve it.  They take all of the seeds to cultivate. Oh and Siddiq (Avi Nash) had a run in with a walker that had spider crawling all over it.  He was more afraid of the spiders. 

Rick’s group joins Michonne’s group to get the canoe, plow and wagon downstairs.  The main obstacle is the floor. It’s made of glass and there are a lot of walkers beneath it. They carefully, but quickly get the wagon down, but the glass starts to shatter. They quickly get the canoe out of the way. There are two pieces to the plow and it takes four people to get that across.  Ezekiel (Khary Peyton) and Carol carry the final piece. The glass breaks and Ezekiel falls through the floor.

Ezekiel is held by rope tied around his waist. The walkers can’t grab him as Rick and the others work to pull him up. Daryl gets his crossbow to kill any walker that gets to close to Ezekiel.  Rick and the others are able to pull him up enough for Carol and Daryl to grab Ezekiel and pull him to safety. Carol kisses Ezekiel to express her relief.

The Walking Dead

Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

As the group is returning home, Ezekiel tells Carol that he loves her and he wants to marry her. She is annoyed. She doesn’t want him to ask her, especially while they are riding horses. But she doesn’t say no.  Ezekiel says he will save the ring for a later time.  

They come upon a broken bridge. Rosita tells them that a storm came through and made the water rise enough to destroy the bridge.  A group of walkers walked across and it collapsed.  They will have to repair it.  The wagon gets stuck in the mud. The horses are tired from pulling it so Rick and the others have to get it out. As they are pushing the wagon, a group of walkers approach.  They get the wagon moving and have to reload everything, but the walkers are too close and there are too many of them. Rick tells everyone to leave the wagon.

One of the Hilltop guys, the blacksmith’s son Ken, runs back to save one of the horses and gets bit.  Saddiq tries to help him but Ken dies. They take his body back to the Sanctuary. Maggie informs his parents Earl (John Finn) and Tammy Rose (Brett Butler) about what happened. Tammy Rose is angry and blames Maggie for her son’s death. She’s also angry that they give food to the Saviors, saying it’s not right.  Maggie asks to help with the funeral, but Tammy Rose declines saying Maggie is not welcome at the funeral. The funeral is held later that night.

Rick and Michonne visit the Sanctuary.  One of the residents asks if Negan is rotting in jail. Michonne sees writing on the wall that says ‘Saviors Save Us! We Are Still Negan.’ Daryl tells Justin to clean it up, but Justin pushes back saying they don’t have any paint. Daryl is frustrated with Justin and orders him to take care of it.

Rick tells the residents that they brought them farming equipment and seeds. They are going to help them get back on their feet. The Sanctuary residents are grateful for Rick and applaud him.  Before Rick leaves, Daryl talks to him. Daryl doesn’t want to oversee the Sanctuary anymore.  He says being behind those walls doesn’t feel right. He’s better outside the walls.  Nothing grows there, it’s a Sanctuary. Rick says it’s up to them to make it work.  Daryl says there is no ‘us’ anymore.  The small group they had in the beginning could do anything. 

Rick asks him to come back to Alexandria, but Daryl wants to go to the Hilltop. Rick says they don’t have anyone who can replace him. They’re not together because things have changed. Daryl says Rick is the one who changed them.  Daryl says he gets it, but it’s clearly not okay. Carol watches Daryl walk away from Rick. 

At the Hilltop, Gregory offers Tammy Rose and Earl a bottle of whiskey.  Tammy Rose accepts but is soon taken to bed. After she goes to sleep, Gregory coherces Earl into a drink. Earl is angry. He doesn’t think his son should have gone on the run with Maggie. He also blames Maggie for his son’s death.  So Gregory tells him to do something about it.

The Walking Dead

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Carol finds Daryl outside of the Sanctuary and they sit and talk at Ezekiel.  Carol says compared to Ed, Ezekiel’s corniness is welcome.  Daryl gives Ezekiel his approval. She tells him about Ezekiel’s proposal. She wanted to say yes, but she doesn’t want to rush anything.  Carol offers to take over the Sanctuary for Daryl.  Daryl offers to stay with her, but she declines.

Rick and Michonne are going to bed. He tells her about his conversation with Daryl.  That leads to a conversation about establishing a charter to govern the communities. Rick states that he is so lucky to have found Michonne.  Michonne teases him, calling him the Famous Rick Grimes.

Maggie is walking around the hilltop with Hershel when she finds Gregory. He tells her that someone defaced Glenn’s grave during the funeral. She leaves to look at it and someone in a dark hoodie attacks her.  The baby carriage is tipped over and Hershel sits on the ground crying. Enid (Katelyn Nacon) find them and tries to help Maggie, but she is pushed back and hits her head. Alden (Callan McAuliffe) and Cynde (Sydnie Park) hear them and run in to help. They are able to hold the man down while Maggie removes his hood. It’s Earl. 

Maggie rushes to Gregory’s quarters to confront him about the attempt on her life.  Gregory defends himself calling Maggie Rick’s lackey. He says he built the Hilltop and he should lead it. Maggie says he can’t lead Hilltop because he can’t even murder someone.  Gregory lunges at her, trying to stab her. Maggie fights him off and is able to get the knife out of his hands. She stops the fight by holding the knife to Gregory’s throat.

The next morning, Carol says goodbye to Ezekiel and Jerry (Cooper Andrews). Ezekiel thinks she’s running away from him, but she promises that she isn’t.  She just wants to help. Carol assures him that she has a home to return to.  He says he is content to move at her speed. Carol tells Jerry to watch over Ezekiel and they leave.

Rick and Michonne go to the Hilltop to check on Maggie. Rick asks Maggie to visit Alexandria to see their progress.  Maggie refuses to set foot in Alexandria as long as Negan lives. Rick asks for her help with rebuilding the bridge. And to supply the Sanctuary with food.  Maggie agrees, but the Sanctuary has to rebuild the bridge. Rick thinks it’s too much to ask. Maggie reminds him that he said he would follow her after the war and he hasn’t. That’s going to change now.

The Walking Dead

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Later that night Maggie has Gregory sitting on top of a horse with a noose around his neck. She asks if he has any final words. Gregory says she is doing this to him because she is ashamed. She says she’s not.  When she gives Daryl the signal to make the horse run, two children arrive behind the group. Michonne sees the kids and tries to stop Maggie, but Daryl has spanked the horse and Gregory is hanging. Someone gets the kids and makes them leave the area. Maggie addresses the community saying she stands by her decision to hang Gregory, but it’s not the beginning of something.  She never wants to do anything like that again.

Thoughts

The great thing about this episode was balance. It has just enough action to keep the viewer’s attention and enough dialog to give the audience enough information about what’s been going on.  There was also an even amount of character development for everyone but Rick. Which is much needed for when he leaves.

I especially like the female leaders.  Carol stepping up to lead the Sanctuary.  Michonne wanting to write a charter to establish some kind of government. And Maggie, taking charge of a community that voted for her to lead them.

And the love!! I enjoyed seeing Carol and Ezekiel’s new relationship! He is such a gentleman. Carol deserves to be treated like a Queen.  And her friendship with Daryl is amazing! They have been through so much together. Daryl and Ezekiel are providing great support for our Queen!

We finally got some much needed Richonne time!  From the Grimes Family fun day to Richonne making Rick giggle. It’s so awesome to see them healing together.  They are stronger than ever!

The flow of this first episode was so smooth, I was surprised when it ended.  For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t ready for it to end. If the rest of the season moves like this, we are in for a roller coaster ride.   

Two thumbs up for Angela Kang’s first episode as showrunner! Welcome back The Walking Dead!

 

 

 

Noetta Harjo
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