This is a spoiler-free review of Episode 3 of Season 9. Already seen the episode? Read on for full spoilers following its UK broadcast.
“As the hours passed and nothing terrible happened, she stopped worrying and resolved to wait calmly and see what the future would bring,” Rick (Andrew Lincoln) reads to Judith (Chloe Garcia-Frizzi) from The Wizard of Oz in Episode 3 of The Walking Dead Season 9. The new world that he has built for the communities has gone 18 months without incident: no bat wielding maniacs, no cannibals, no wolves. Who knows what the future will bring? But Rick has built something that can provide for the now and the forever, to look after the children of the communities and those children yet to come.
Not everybody is on board with Rick’s vision. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is giving it a chance, but when she is questioned and intimidated by some frustrated Saviours, she is only reminded of the torment she has suffered at their hands. She’s still angry at Rick and for being the camp relied upon to provide provisions for those who act so unpleasantly towards her. Maggie knows that she is an integral cog to Rick’s future, but she has gained her own supporters, including some rather powerful, if not hot-headed, allies, including Daryl (Norman Reedus). Alone, Maggie’s opinion could easily be shut down, but with the support of Daryl and maybe some other important players in the ever-growing game of Risk, there may be another election looming.
Warning Signs plays more detective drama than survival horror and it’s promising that nine seasons in, the show is still able to adapt. There are the familiar beats that we’ve come to expect and a zombie set piece that is both gruesome and a result of unfortunate timing. The Saviours are looking for answers as more of them go missing and getting more aggressive in their approach. Carol (Melissa McBride) worries that the past is doomed to repeat itself. If the Saviours do revolt, it will be a step back for the show that has opened with three really strong and refreshing episodes, as well as the undoing of everything that Rick has created. The big question the season can focus on actually stems from what seems like a throwaway line from Jerry (Cooper Andrews) at a meeting of the council elders. Should they solve this mystery of the missing Saviours, what happens to those responsible? Is the punishment a Negan or a Gregory?
This is why Michonne (Danai Gurira) has an important role in creating laws for the new world. A new constitution will struggle to appease all the survivors, especially those who have enjoyed the free reign they’ve become accustomed to. Politics is a tricky game and at the moment there is only one party to follow. Should Michonne get the leaders to agree to a single structure, there are still the other survivors to convince. How would laws work in just their small community? If it turns out the missing Saviours have been attacked by a group outside of the communities, do those laws still apply?
Unless those missing can be found and their whereabouts explained, Michonne’s idea of a stronger community may be short-lived. Already, Saviours are revolting and having angered Maggie and led the initial confrontation, Jed (Rhys Coiro) completes a trifecta by threatening Rick and Carol. In this tense and smartly written scene, while Rick is seemingly having a simple negotiation conversation, he is actually forced to rethink his entire future. Is it worth the risk to end things quickly and upset the balance, or does every life really matter? There’s still a lot of work to do for Rick’s new world to take shape and if it is going to survive, it needs the support of every member of their community. Handling this situation might be enough for now, but how many hours do they have left before something truly terrible happens?
The Walking Dead Season 9 premieres at 9pm on FOX UK on Mondays. Don’t have pay-TV? You can also stream it on NOW TV, for £7.99 a month, with no contract and a 14-day free trial. Seasons 1 to 8 are available on Sky Box Sets and NOW TV until 30th November 2018.
Entrails and innards (spoiler)
– Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) is greatly taken aback when she is accused of being behind the missing Saviours and when she learns that even Rick wants to know her whereabouts she takes off back to the trash pile. Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) follows her and learns that maybe Jadis is still inside Anne, plotting something that could be another thorn in Rick’s new world.
– Just who was that survivor that Maggie was travelling with on the cart? Didn’t he look just a little bit too much like Glenn?
After the trouble with Jed, the dissent from within the Saviour ranks, and learning more about the individual Saviours from Oceanside, Maggie has heard enough. She has given Rick’s way a chance but now, it’s time for something else. With Daryl by her side, she makes an important decision, which could blow open the whole rest of the season. Just as Rick read Frank L. Baum, the episode ends with Maggie and Daryl following a not-so-yellow brick road to see a very different type of Wizard.
– Oceanside have had their eyes opened by Maggie. Seeing how she dealt with Gregory has given them fresh hope that they don’t have to accept Rick are the one ruler, there are alternatives. This extra support only encourages Maggie in her decision to stand up against Rick and fight for her way to have a chance. Confusingly, Maggie agrees that Rick’s way is better for her son and will afford him a better chance of survival, yet she seems happy to jeopardise that and stand against Rick.
– There is no denying that, so far, Rick has really honoured his son’s memory and built a world on something other than death. As Rick explores the gardens at Alexandria, he picks the only ripe tomato before visiting his son’s grave. The tomato is no doubt a metaphor for Carl – maybe because it was something that Rick created or maybe because Carl enjoyed Spaghetti and tomatoes with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). At the start of the episode the tomato is ripe and juicy. Later, Jed takes a bite out of a tomato signifying the Saviours trying to take back some of their freedom. Finally, as the Saviours head off, disgruntled to work, giving Rick evil glares, the tomato is crushed. Has Rick’s future, Carl’s future, been crushed, just as it had reached its best?