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The Walking Dead 'Home Sweet Home' Ending Explained

Contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead season 10, episode 17 — "Home Sweet Home"

The Whisperer War may be over, but the premiere of The Walking Dead's set of six bonus season 10 episodes is proof that in the apocalypse, there are always new threats waiting to emerge. 

Released on AMC+ on Sunday, February 21, 2021 — a full week before its cable debut on February 28 — the new episode, entitled "Home Sweet Home," picks up in the aftermath of the bloody season 10B finale and wastes no time answering some lingering questions. Longtime Walking Dead fans will likely be thrilled to see that not only is this new installment Maggie Rhee-centric, but it also features Lauren Cohan once again listed as a main cast member on the series.

"Home Sweet Home" packs a lot of action and exposition into its 41-minute runtime. Viewers get the lowdown on what Maggie has been up to since she disappeared from the show back in season 9, as well as deeper insight into the intimidating masked survivor we saw her with when she reappeared in the season 10B finale. In returning to the show, Maggie also brought with her a potential new threat to the survivors in Alexandria. That's not even to mention the potential complication her arrival could pose for Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) place in the community.

Here's what went down in The Walking Dead season 10's first bonus episode, "Home Sweet Home," and what the events and reveals could signify for the future.

Maggie proved herself to be a fierce and compassionate leader

The finale of season 10B brought Maggie back into the Walking Dead fold. After being absent since the time jump in the middle of season 9, Maggie returned with new allies in toe to help silence the threat of the Whisperers. In the first of the six season 10 bonus episodes — essentially the season 10C premiere — viewers got to spend some time catching up with the veteran character.

Since leaving Alexandria, Maggie has been traveling from community to community with her son Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller). We only meet two members of the group she's currently with at the beginning of the episode, as the rest are hunkered down in a basecamp with young Hershel. Maggie and her new allies team up with Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Kelly (Angel Theory) to find their way back to the rest of the group. Through this mission, it becomes clear that Maggie's strength, compassion, and determination have made her a natural leader for this new group.

She has a particularly close relationship with Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari), the formerly unnamed masked survivor we met in the season 10B finale. Elijah's silent and intimidating appearance made some fellow survivors uneasy. However, in this episode, we get some surprising insight into his character.

Elijah's mask is hiding something surprising

While the group is camping out overnight on their way to meet up with Maggie's people, Kelly wanders off while she's supposed to be on guard duty. She's discovered the next morning inspecting some clothing on a crashed truck nearby, and Maggie confronts her about her abandonment of the group. Daryl explains that in the midst of everything else, Kelly is still trying to find her sister Connie (Lauren Ridloff), who has been missing since earlier in season 10. Maggie accepts this explanation and tells Kelly that Elijah also recently lost his own sister.

When the group gets entangled in a dangerous situation later on in "Home Sweet Home," Kelly notices that Elijah seems to be frozen in fear. She asks him to lift up his mask. He does, and reveals that he's a young man who does indeed look incredibly anxious about the danger they've found themselves in. For Elijah, the scary mask he wears is quite literally a cover to shield himself from the outside world. With it on, people are intimidated by him, but only because they can't see that underneath, he's the one who's terrified. Kelly gives him a quick pep talk, and later, Elijah shares some food with her to cement their budding friendship. 

It remains to be seen whether Elijah will become stronger and more confident moving forward, which would be beneficial to him and his fellow survivors the inevitable next time they're in trouble, or if the dangers of the world around him will become too much and cause him to slip further into fear and potentially lead to a tragic end. The Walking Dead has seen enough death and destruction over the years, so hopefully Elijah's narrative arc will be a positive, uplifting one — or at least as positive and uplifting as things can get in a zombie show.

A potential new threat to Alexandria emerges

Maggie's journey to reunite with the rest of her group takes a tragic turn when she arrives at the shelter they've been using and finds it ransacked and burned to the ground. There are several dead bodies among the wreckage, but Hershel is missing. Although the perpetrators of this attack are nowhere to be seen, Maggie and her allies seem to know exactly who did it: the Reapers, whom Cole (James Devoti) believes have been following their group.

The crew splits up to find any survivors of the attack, and eventually, Maggie and Daryl come across three other members of her group who got away. However, someone with a sniper rifle hiding in the woods quickly picks the trio off. The sniper eventually emerges and reveals himself to be completely decked out in camouflage and tactical gear. 

After a scuffle, Maggie and Daryl get the upper hand against the sniper. Maggie attempts to get answers out of the man, demanding, "You're one of them, right? You attacked our home, killed our friends, my family. Why'd you do this? We did nothing to you!" Instead of giving her answers, the man pulls the pin out of a grenade strapped to his chest and blows himself up. 

It's unclear what exactly the Reapers' true purpose is, especially since they don't have any connections to the Walking Dead comics. Considering that the sniper was equipped with at least two weapons (the gun and the grenade), was wearing attire designed for stealthiness, and was outfitted in tactical gear, it seems plausible that the Reapers' members may have military experience from their lives pre-zombie apocalypse. They may even be off-shoots of or somehow related to the Commonwealth, or possibly the Civil Republic Military. Whatever their background, it's clear that the Reapers aren't some slapped-together faction of survivors who are winging things. They're organized, ruthless, and will evidently stop at nothing to meet their goals — whatever those may be apart from wiping out "anything in their way," as Cole says. 

We should learn in time if the Reapers will emerge as a new and persistent threat to our protagonists, but this probably isn't the last we'll see of them throughout the rest of season 10.

Will Maggie ever be able to coexist with Negan?

After the run-in with the Reapers' sniper, Maggie goes off to find her son. Thankfully for Maggie, she's raised young Hershel in her resourceful image, and she eventually finds him safe and hiding in a tree. With her son by her side but her group in shambles, Maggie decides to accompany Daryl and Kelly back to Alexandria. There's the promise of safety in numbers, which Maggie needs right now, but returning to Alexandria isn't an easy decision for her.

At the beginning of "Home Sweet Home," Maggie comes face-to-face with Negan. Viewers have seen his character go through many twists and turns over the course of the series, but for Maggie, he'll always be the man who brutally murdered her husband Glenn (Steven Yeun) all those years ago. It's clear that Maggie isn't interested in living anywhere near Negan (and you can't really blame her for that). While talking with Daryl about why she left Alexandria and chose to stay away, Maggie says, "The truth is, I left home because I couldn't have Negan taking up any more space in my head. Then I realized I didn't want to bring Hershel back to that."

However, throughout this new Walking Dead episode, Maggie realizes that, with the circumstances being what they are, she has no choice but to go back to Alexandria, where Negan lives. She tells Carol (Melissa McBride) she doesn't hold any hard feelings against her for bringing Negan into the Alexandria mix to help with the Whisperer situation, and assures Daryl that she'll deal with her feelings for the good of her group. As she walks back into town for the first time in years, Maggie wears a look of hardened determination. The camera lingers on Negan as he watches her walk by, possibly indicating that tensions between him and Maggie are far from over. 

Both characters have undergone huge changes over the years, and things really could go either way for Maggie and Negan as the remaining Walking Dead season 10 bonus episodes play out. In a perfect world, Negan never would have done what he did and Maggie could return to Alexandria without any qualms — but it seems the best anyone can do here is hope that Negan and Maggie's volatile past doesn't turn their current, unfavorable situation anymore sour than it needs to be.