Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Season 9 premiere of The Walking Dead.
AMC’s The Walking Dead has finally returned and the Season 9 premiere, “A New Beginning,” had a few tasks to accomplish. It had to reintroduce us to these characters, jump forward in time, show how communities have progressed since the end of the war with Negan and the Saviors, and set up a few potential conflicts for the rest of the season. All things considered, new showrunner Angela Kang managed to accomplish that, as well as killing off a major character by the end of the episode.
Well, technically, two characters died on The Walking Dead premiere, but you’ll only care about one. While returning from a mission to Washington, D.C., Rick and company have to pull a wagon through some mud. While doing so, a new character, Ken, is bitten by a walker when he tries to go back and free the horses. Not a huge deal for viewers since we barely knew this guy, but this has big reverberations for Maggie, who must deliver the bad news to Ken’s parents. And Ken’s mother, already not a fan of Maggie, only finds solace in Gregory.
Yes, somehow, Gregory is still alive, despite his many attempts at double-crossing Maggie. And that’s no different here, as he attempts to turn Ken’s parents against Maggie to the point where Ken’s father, Earl, attempts to kill Maggie, but fails. So the Hilltop leader confronts Gregory, who then tries to do the deed himself, but Maggie overpowers him. Ultimately, Maggie can’t decide to keep Gregory around.
So at the very end of the episode, she chooses to have Gregory hanged. While she told the Hilltop residents- with Rick, Daryl, and Michonne in attendance- that she did not want to do this, the rules still must be followed. With that, she ordered Daryl to slap away the horse under Gregory, leaving him to hang lifelessly as a lesson to anyone who would dare cross Maggie. Given Rick and Maggie’s words before this moment, this will no doubt further set up conflict the two will have, further cemented by the fact that Lauren Cohan and Andrew Lincoln will be exiting The Walking Dead this season.
It’s a slightly remixed take on Gregory’s demise, as he attempted to have Maggie poisoned in the comic book. More than that, the death happens later in the New Beginning arc than it does here, with Gregory’s death coming right off the bat, but given Ken’s death and some in the Hilltop doubting Maggie’s leadership, Gregory’s murder attempt was the final push to send him out of the world of The Walking Dead.
What did you think of Gregory’s attempts on Maggie’s life? Was she in the right to have him hanged? Let us know in the comments below.
The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Katelyn Nacon, Tom Payne, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Khary Payton, Pollyanna McIntosh, Callan McAuliffe, Avi Nash…and now formerly Xander Berkeley.
The series airs on Sunday nights at 9 PM on AMC.