4. Who's In Charge Of The Hilltop?
As reported previously, last week's episode was not only Rick's final bow on The Walking Dead, but Maggie's also, at least for now. This might partly explain why the Hilltop only featured in "Who Are You Now?" by way of passing references from other characters.
One such reference came from Michonne as she prepared to take Magna's group to Hilltop to ask if "she" would take the group in. Clearly, viewers are meant to assume that Michonne is referring to Maggie here, but if the reports of her exit are correct, someone else must be in charge. The only major female characters currently residing at Hilltop are Enid and Tara, and since she has essentially been Maggie's understudy in recent seasons, Enid is perhaps the leading candidate. However, The Walking Dead has yet to show Oceanside since the time skip; could one of their rank now be in charge of Hilltop?
Aside from the issue of Hilltop's new leader, there's also a question mark hanging over exactly what happened to Maggie. Recent episodes have arguably set Maggie up for a possible move to Georgie's community but an explanation is still required to account for why she would leave after initially refusing. Was it the trauma of losing Rick? Or is her exit connected to a currently-unseen event that occurred afterwards?
3. Why Are The Communities So Divided?
In the early days of The Walking Dead season 9, tension was beginning to brew between the various communities. Maggie's execution of Gregory put her at odds with Rick, Oceanside were secretly killing off former foes and the Saviors continued to be a thorn in the side of just about everyone. However, when Maggie finally gave up her revenge mission against Negan and Rick risked his life to protect his fellow survivors from an oncoming horde, it seemed as if many of those rifts would be healed.
Clearly, that has not happened. While there are still lines of communication and trade between Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom, Ezekiel claims that the settlements have never been more divided and mentions a "fair" that is in planning and intended to bring everyone back together.
After the comics' time skip, all of the communities start to get along famously, even the Sanctuary at first. As such, it isn't immediately obvious what could have caused them to grow apart on TV. Perhaps this surprisingly frosty dynamic ties into how Michonne got her scar, or why Maggie left Hilltop, but maybe it's simply meant to demonstrate how everything falls apart without Rick around.
2. What Happened To The Saviors?
"What Are You Now?" delighted The Walking Dead fans with the long-awaited return of Carol's savage mode. The Queen of the Kingdom was traveling with her adopted son when she was robbed by a group of Saviors. Naturally, she responds by burning them in their sleep.
Negan's former cronies didn't exactly part with Carol on good terms prior to the time skip so it perhaps isn't too surprising to see them at odds here. However, the Saviors' dialogue in this scene strongly implies that something has happened to their community, the Sanctuary, that has forced them to scavenge on the road and the group is later seen sleeping in a barn-like structure. There could be a simple explanation for this; perhaps the Sanctuary fell apart without any allies to trade with, or perhaps the community is still standing but has evicted its more troublesome members.
Alternatively, Rick's assumed death could have prompted an uprising from the Saviors against the other communities - a battle they ultimately lost - and this could provide an explanation for both Michonne's scar and the general sense of unease between communities. In the comic version of The Walking Dead, the Saviors do attempt a half-hearted sort of rebellion against Alexandria, but not until after the fight against the Whisperers. It's possible that the TV iteration has brought this arc forward to add some spice to the time skip.
1. What Is Negan and Judith's Relationship?
Still locked up in jail, Negan didn't feature too prominently in "Who Are You Now?" but one scene did show the former Savior leader happily discussing mathematics with Judith. The youngster is clearly aware of Negan's crimes and knows that they can only communicate through a small basement window but the most interesting aspect of this sequence is how Judith doesn't appear to make any attempt to hide her conversation with Negan. Surely if any communication with Negan was banned, she wouldn't be talking to him in the middle of the day in plain sight.
This would seem to suggest that other Alexandrians, and perhaps even Michonne, are aware that Judith speaks to Negan and are allowing it to occur. If this is the case, then Negan must have earned a great deal of trust during the time skip years and behaved himself impeccably. Perhaps he even helped quell a Savior coup? Certainly, Negan appeared for more balanced in this episode compared to The Walking Dead season 9 so far (and he must have also ended his habit of going on hunger strike).
Alexandria may be planning to keep Negan locked up indefinitely but with a powerful new enemy on the horizon, could their captive former foe prove too valuable an asset to ignore?
"Who Are You Now?" represents the dawn of a new era for The Walking Dead and, to an extent, the start of an entirely different show and it therefore makes sense that the episode asked more questions than it answered. And while some mysteries can be cleared up immediately - the chatty zombies, for example - others likely won't be revealed until viewers gain a better understanding of what happened during the time skip.
The Walking Dead continues with "Stradivarius" November 18th on AMC.