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The Ending Of The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 9 Explained

At long last, AMC's "The Walking Dead" is back! After a four-month-long hiatus, we return to the series with the world of the zombie walker apocalypse seemingly in more chaos than ever before. Last we checked in with our traveling group of survivors, things weren't looking very good for Daryl (Norman Reedus), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), or Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari).

In the final moments of Season 11, Episode 8 ("For Blood"), Daryl's former sweetheart, Leah (Lynn Collins), murders Pope (Ritchie Coster), takes her place as the new leader of the Reapers, and sets her sights on killing anyone else who stands in her way, especially including any of our merry band of misfits. Of course, you'd be sorely mistaken if you believed things at Alexandria were going much better. Already stressed over dwindling food supplies, the people of Alexandria are forced to confront a storm that welcomes hordes of walkers inside the walls and threatens to destroy the entire community.

With the second part of the final season now finally underway, let's dig into where the series leaves things at the end of Season 11, Episode 9 ("No Other Way").

Maggie executes the Reapers, leading Negan to quickly depart

After Daryl negotiates an uneasy truce with the Reapers, Maggie decides peace isn't enough for her. With only a second's thought, Maggie unholsters a firearm and takes aim at each of the remaining Reapers. Though she somehow manages to miss Leah's head at near point-blank range, she murders the only other surviving Reapers with her pistol and a discarded scythe. Though Negan initially looks on with some sense of amusement, his grin quickly turns into a fearful frown. Throughout Season 11, much of the battle between Maggie and the Reapers has actually centered on Maggie's evolving relationship with Negan

Of course, Maggie can never forgive Negan for murdering Glenn (Steven Yeun) in Season 7, but she does appear to be earning a more nuanced perspective on her husband's killer. In Season 11, Episode 7 ("Promises Broken"), Negan tells Maggie that if he had to do it all over again, he would have killed everyone lined up for Lucille that night, rather than spare most of the group. While her immediate response to Negan's admission is disgust, it would certainly appear that she has come around to the idea. In the aftermath of losing her community, including one of her closest allies in Alden (Callan McAuliffe), Maggie no longer seems to struggle when it comes to making cruel choices.

Of course, such a brutal lesson also has further implications, including one that Negan is likely to enjoy significantly less. As Negan laters puts it, Maggie "was always going to do what she did" when it came to the Reapers. When it comes to Negan, it's only a matter of time before she makes the same call for him, regardless of her promise. Fearing retribution from Maggie, Negan departs the group on his own. While it's unclear where we'll meet up with Negan again in the future, we can rest assured he'll bring further trouble whenever that time comes. 

The Commonwealth discovers Alexandria

Much of Season 11, Part 1 focuses on characters like Eugene, Ezekiel (Khary Payton), and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) during their first few weeks at the Commonwealth. Though the community certainly offers a more pre-apocalypse-like lifestyle, there have been known to be a few downsides (much like each of the previous supposedly happy-go-lucky communities on "The Walking Dead"). While it's taken sometime for the leaders of the Commonwealth to meet with the people of Alexandria, this moment finally arrives at the very end of Season 11, Episode 9.

Once Daryl & Maggie's group returns to Alexandria, they don't get much of an opportunity to celebrate their survival or chow down on the new food supply. Though Daryl is immediately overjoyed to reunite with Judith (Cailey Presley Fleming), Carol (Melissa McBride), Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Lydia (Cassady McClincy), the group quickly discovers more problems on the horizon. Less than three minutes after their arrival, Jerry (Cooper Andrews) spots a menacing group of stormtroopers on horseback approaching the gate. While the two communities prepare for a bloody gunfight, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) quickly calms the situation and insists they come in peace.

With the assistance of Deputy Governor Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton), Eugene explains the extent of the Commonwealth's affluence and the hope that it can offer to the citizens of Alexandria in the aftermath of the storm. While Hornsby promises to help Alexandria rebuild, he quickly proposes a "potentially more interesting choice" to those interested. Though we don't actually see anyone accept Hornsby's inevitable offer to relocate to the Commonwealth, the promo for Episode 10 spells out a few characters we should expect to see move there (via YouTube).

A flashforward teases a coming war

Before Hornsby can finish his speech to the people of Alexandria, "The Walking Dead" fans are greeted with a rather abrupt flashforward and a title card that reads "Six Months Later." With Elijah at her side, Maggie stands cross armed on top of the gate at Hilltop. Though she doesn't appear overly hostile, she is clearly displeased by whatever stands just outside the fence. 

Only a second later, an entire battalion of Commonwealth stormtroopers are revealed to be standing outside. In addition to at least 15 soldiers, one man, conspicuously out of uniform, seems to be handing out orders. After a brief discussion with the plainclothes gentleman, one soldier approaches the gate, looks at Maggie, and threateningly says, "Open up." Unwaveringly, Maggie responds, "It doesn't have to be this way." Shockingly, the soldier removes his mask, revealing the face of Daryl Dixon, who menacingly responds, "Yeah, yeah it does." Of course, this reveals should prompt a variety of questions from fans of the series, the least of which is... Who else is standing there in uniform?

Additionally, we also have to wonder just how far in the future of the series this six-month time jump actually represents. Could this scene setup the finale of Season 11, Part 2? Or, could it potentially tease the final endgame of the entire series or the setup of Daryl and Carol's coming spinoff? Either way, the coming weeks will need to explain what possible conflict within the walls of the Commonwealth leads to such a dramatic confrontation between old friends.

Episodes of "The Walking Dead" air on AMC on Sunday nights at 9/8c (via AMC). Check out AMC+ for early access to each episode.