An Easter egg hidden in the second episode of The Walking Dead season 9 paid quiet tribute to Glenn, Hershel and other departed characters. The ninth season of AMC’s long-running zombie drama has already seen big changes thanks to a time-jump, and more huge developments are in store as several main cast members are set to leave the series.
In the biggest development of all, long-time series lead Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) will follow in the footsteps of his TV son Carl (Chandler Riggs) by exiting the show. Lauren Cohan (Maggie Rhee) is also set to depart, though the door remains open on her return for season 10. It remains to be seen what other huge developments will happen as the season plays out, but by all accounts things are set to become more dramatic than ever.
Even as The Walking Dead prepares to move into a bold new Rick Grimes-less future, the show has recently taken some opportunities to look back on its past in sometimes subtle ways. Season 9’s second episode featured one such backward look, in the form of an Easter egg that may have escaped the notice of many fans. Eagle-eyed viewers have spotted the touching tribute in a scene between Maggie and Jesus where the walls of Maggie’s Hilltop office (the late Gregory’s former office) are adorned with portraits of several departed characters, including Maggie’s own murdered husband Glenn (via ComicBook.com). Kirsten Acuna posted a shot of the Glenn portrait on Twitter which can be seen below:
Besides Glenn, Maggie’s tribute wall also includes portraits of her dead father Hershel, her sister Beth and others, all painted by Anne/Jadis (who has also gifted Gabriel his own rather striking portrait, done in her signature expressionistic style). Given Maggie's new status as the leader of Hilltop, the paintings not only serve as tributes to her departed loved ones, but also no doubt stand as reminders of the great responsibility she carries on her shoulders. Maggie has already been sorely tested in season 9, as she had to deal with Gregory's (Xander Berkeley) plot to kill her, ultimately electing to hang Gregory for his crime. Maggie also has to deal with the on-going imprisonment of Gregory's flunky Earl (John Finn), as well as the earnest appeals of Earl's wife Tammy Rose (Brett Butler) for her husband to receive clemency.
Of course, fans already know that Hershel will be back for season 9, as actor Scott Wilson filmed a scene that will be incorporated into the show later this year. Wilson himself recently passed away, adding extra poignancy to his brief return to the series. In addition to Hershel, Shane (Jon Bernthal) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) will also make return appearances in The Walking Dead. It’s not yet known how exactly these characters will come back, but odds are their appearances will somehow be connected to Rick’s impending departure. One character who will not be making a return appearance is Glenn, as actor Steven Yeun has made it clear he will never make a cameo on the show after it killed off his character in brutal fashion in the highly controversial season 7 premiere.
Even as The Walking Dead prepares to move into an uncertain new era, the show still finds itself taking time out to remember its past, which serves to make the storytelling richer as well as giving long-time fans a chance to remember their departed favorites. The series has been on the air so long now that it has a genuinely complex history, and it's good to know the writers still take time to remember that history.
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