“I think you’re a good person,” Jesus tells Maggie midway through Angela Kang’s much improved season 9 of The Walking Dead, and “good people can disagree.” That’s a fairly good reflection of where The Walking Dead is now. The last couple of seasons of The All Out War have been very black and white: The morally flawed good guys versus the morally bankrupt bad guys. It wasn’t just a different view of governing philosophy, it was a different view of humanity.
In many ways, season 9 is more challenging because there are good people on both sides, and here it is a difference of governing philosophies, but in the zombie apocalypse, those differences can cost people their lives. Last week, Gregory was used as essentially a test case on the issue of the death penalty. In the wake of Carl’s death, Rick doesn’t believe in it (hence, Negan is in prison instead of hanging from a tree), while Maggie clearly believes in it. But as her experience with Earl has taught her this week, she also believes in second chances. Just not third, and fourth, and fifth chances.
The different philosophies toward governing has been what’s been thematically most interesting this season. It’s a new beginning, and they’re starting a new civilization, but that also requires that each of the communities hash out their differences, and ultimately, those differences may determine whether Alexandria, Oceanside, The Kingdom, the Sanctuary, and The Hilltop are separate states under the same rules or whether each of those communities will form their own nation, so to speak. Rick and Maggie will not only determine that direction, but Rick’s eventual death may have direct implications on that what form of government eventually gains a foothold.