The Walking Dead aired its season finale this week, a low-key episode that allowed the show to regroup after the tragedy that befell the group last week. The season finale featured its first ever snow storm, the fall of The Kingdom, and the heartbreaking break-up of Carol and Ezekiel. Fans will have to wait six more months to find out about the lasting repercussions of Enid, Tara, and Henry’s death, as well as what Ezekiel will do without The Kingdom, but that won’t stop us from speculating. As we settle in for the break (and turn our attention to Fear the Walking Dead), here’s several questions we have headed into season 10.
— Whose voice was on the radio? — The season 9 finale finished with the words of someone on Ezekiels’ ham radio asking, “Is anyone out there?” Whose voice was it? The obvious — too obvious — answer might be Maggie, and this might be the show’s way of setting up a future storyline with The Commonwealth. That makes sense in particular considering a statement showrunner Angela Kang made last year. “Obviously the Commonwealth does mean things to people; we’re starting to seed in some future stories. The timing of those stories may not be in the immediate future, but there will be things this season that are groundwork being laid for finding out more about the world.” The radio here has been bouncing around since Rick’s departure, and setting it up is one of the reasons that Jesus was killed.
Of course, this assumes that Maggie is with the Commonwealth, but it being a voice from the Commonwealth does track with the source material. However, it would seem odd for someone from The Commonwealth to reach out via radio if Maggie is with them, because — as Yumiko revealed in the finale — they do know how to reach out to Maggie via letter (how that letter gets to her, however, is a mystery. Is there a post-apocalyptic postal service?).
Conversely, the voice could have been Jadis — or someone associated with Jadis — from wherever Rick has gone, potentially setting up Michonne’s departure in season 10, as she is rumored to join Rick Grimes in his stand-alone The Walking Dead movies. Speaking of which, no one seems to ask whether Gabriel or Negan told the rest of the Alexandrians about the helicopter. Both characters witnessed the helicopter while at the Junkyard, and yet neither has mentioned to Michonne that it may be responsible for both Jadis’ and Rick’s departures. That reveal, if it is made in season ten, could open up a departure point for Michonne.
— Who will be the first major character to die next season? It has to be Alden, right? Just for speaking to Lydia the way he did in the season finale. The gall of Alden — a former Savior! — to call out someone who used to live in an enemy community. On the other hand, sometimes characters who are spared their comic-book deaths find other ways to die (Abraham, for instance, avoided his comic-book death but died a few episodes later). That doesn’t bode well for Ezekiel, who may have to compete with members of Magna’s group for a leadership position in a community where behaving like an actual King may not sit well with the other members of The Hilltop. (Also, there have been rumors that Khary Payton would depart next season). On the other hand, Angela Kang is already teasing a new character arc for Ezekiel next season.
Likewise, Rosita was spared her comic-book death, as well, but I do wonder how long The Walking Dead can sustain this love quadrangle between Rosita, Gabriel, Eugene, and her baby’s father, Siddiq, on top of yet another The Walking Dead pregnancy. On the other hand, with Michonne leaving, Rosita’s presence may be needed in Alexandria to maintain a suitable number of recognizable faces.
Speaking of which, I love — with Carol and Daryl returning — that Alexandria has gotten the gang back together, or at least the surviving members of that gang. With Enid and Tara no longer at The Hilltop (RIP), Alexandria and The Hilltop can more easily be divided into the old-school The Walking Dead characters in Alexandria and the newer members at The Hilltop. Angela Kang has also revealed that Magna, Yumiko, Luke, Connie, and Kelly will be getting more screentime next season, and I expect that — along with Ezekiel — they will fully lead half the storylines.
Will Carol and Ezekiel reconcile? Honestly, I hope not. Long-haired, go-with-the-flow fairy tale Carol was fun for one season, but I’m ready to get back to the no-nonsense, cookie-baking kill-or-be-killed Carol we knew and loved for so many seasons. Being back in Alexandria with Daryl might help her get her groove back, but the grief over another lost child may slow things down. Also, as explained above, I don’t think that Ezekiel — who is already dead in the comics — is too long for this world. A King without his Kingdom doesn’t really work. On the other hand, he could be yet another character who eventually makes his way to the spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead. Scott Gimple is already teasing more crossover characters.
— Will Negan get out of prison? — After spending an entire season — and a seven-year time jump — inside a prison cell, I think that Negan has suitably redeemed himself. The redemption arc has also run its course. I think Judith Grimes helped Negan remind himself of who he once was: A middle-school coach with a lame sense of humor and an affinity for power trips, but still someone who could be trusted around the kids. He and Michonne seem to have found a comfortable place together, and when Michonne leaves the series, I suspect it will be Negan who fills her leadership role. With the threat of the Whisperers, Alexandria may need Negan more than Negan needs Alexandria.
— What’s next for The Whisperers? Without getting too much into it, in season 10 Beta is expected to take on an even larger role, and the double-threat that Alpha and Beta pose is unlike anything else The Walking Dead has faced. The allies admitted it themselves this week: They have no idea how to take on The Whisperers, and Alpha appears to be getting ready to go to war.
The best thing that The Walking Dead can do, however, is contain The Whisperers arc to no more than season 10, if not shorter. Angela Kang doesn’t want to to drag this out as Scott Gimple did with The Saviors by stretching too little story into too many episodes. One thing Kang has going for her, however, is an ability to introduce additional stories to supplement the the comic arcs, so she may be able to stretch The Whisperers arc out without breaking it.
In short, there’s a lot to look forward to in season ten, and every reason to be excited about its return in October.