Something staggering has happened with the ninth season of The Walking Dead – the show has become unmissable once again.
Following a lacklustre few seasons, the US drama is confidently regaining its step in a manner that fans couldn’t have expected. Episode three, somewhat ironically titled “Warning Signs,” is the best Walking Dead episode in years. New showrunner Angela Kang has been writing episodes for this show since its second season, and it shows. It’s an episode heralding a new era for the show (Andrew Lincoln’s departure arrives in a matter of weeks) while subtly letting long-time viewers know that they are watching the same characters they met back in 2010.
Kang is keeping the many plates presented over the past three years spinning in supremely interesting ways. She has managed to make the less interesting or more frustrating characters as watchable as the favourites (see: Gabriel, Cindy, Jadis). This is crucial considering that big things are coming and there is no time to waste.
The Walking Dead is about to usher in some game-changing differences and episode three was cold-hard proof that the show could thrive without its lead star.
Below are the episode’s five biggest talking points.
Rick, for the most part, seems to have attained the perfect vision of the future Carl yearned for ahead of his death. Crops are growing, he’s in love with Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Negan is locked away in a prison in Alexandria’s basement. This episode sees bask in his success as he gets a little schmaltzy with his girl. He thanks Michonne “for everything [she’s]’ve done, for everything [she’s] doing, for you,” with things getting raunchy as he tells her in no uncertain terms how he’d like “to build for the future.” Yep, Rick and Michonne decide to have a baby – which would be all well and good if the former wasn’t leaving in a matter of episodes. While it’s a lovely scene to watch, it stands out as a giant ‘something bad is coming’ klaxon.
Saviours are not happy
“We’re all just one big kumbaya right now,” one of the Saviours tells Maggie (Lauren Cohan), but it really couldn’t be further from the truth. After another one of their people is found with an arrow wound to the neck, they grow increasingly worried for their lives and the riots begin. Just who exactly is dispatching of them? Their immediate accusations fly the way of Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Anne AKA the artist formerly known as Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh). It seems Rick’s harmonious civilisation is on the cusp of collapse.
The Whisperers are coming
It’s a funny week for Anne who’s sent on a spiral after glimpsing that helicopter at the climax of last week’s episode. She returns to her old stomping ground of the junkyard where she unearths a walkie talkie. “What do you have? An A or a B?” she asks a person on the other end – someone who may or may not be one of the enigmatic Whisperers. Anne, who clearly has plans to abscond from this group, asks the mysterious voice “What will it take?” The reply? “An A.” Step forward Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), who has rather sneakily followed her. She confides in him, telling him there’s another place they can go to and asking him to leave with her. Ever loyal to Rick, however, Gabriel refuses – so Jadis knocks him out. “And all this time, I thought you were a B,” she states ominously, leaving viewers wondering what the hell her deal is.
Maggie’s sparked a rebellion
Maggie’s decision to hang Gregory has sent shockwaves throughout the communities – something the widow herself learns in a rather big way after discovering who is killing off the Saviours. After joining forces with Daryl to find the person responsible, they come across Oceanside’s Cyndie (Sydney Park) on the cusp of killing one of Negan’s former followers. She reveals she was inspired to take action by Maggie’s decision to hang Gregory a few episodes ago – it showed her there’s an alternative to the way Rick’s decided to run things. "Rick's rules aren't the only rules," she tells Maggie and Daryl proving the seeds of rebellion have most certainly been planted.
It’s Negan time
The episode’s closing moments hint that we’re next week’s outing will devote some healthy screen time to Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s villainous Negan: Maggie and Daryl decide to pay him a visit – a huge moment for the former considering she hasn’t come face to face with him since he killed Glenn (Steven Yeun). What does she plan to do when she arrive sin his cell? it’s hard to know, but it’s sure going to make for some gripping television.
The Walking Dead continues in the US on AMC every Sunday with the simulcast airing in the UK at 2am. The episode is also available to watch on NOW TV ahead of its repeat on FOX at 9pm the following evening