This post contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 finale.
Like a re-animated corpse trudging down a dusty road, The Walking Dead seems destined to trudge on and on until the sun sets on us all.
Sure, the onetime cable juggernaut is finally coming to an end—but it will only give way to a new spin-off, focused on beloved original characters Daryl and Carol. The Rick Grimes movie trilogy is still a thing. Other spin-off series, including the youth-oriented Walking Dead: World Beyond, which premieres Sunday, promise to expand the world even further, even as viewership continues to shrink across the franchise.
And on Sunday’s finale, the flagship series finally introduced The Commonwealth—a major community from the comics that will only expand the world of Walking Dead even further.
In keeping with Walking Dead tradition, the Season 10 finale was largely bloodless for our rugged survivors; the season’s bloodshed occurred earlier on. The most exciting development for fans was undoubtedly Lauren Cohan’s return as Maggie Greene after her brief venture to ABC for the short-lived series Whiskey Cavalier.
Maggie got the return she deserves—and a very nice hat! Just as Gabriel seemed like a goner at the hands of some Whisperers, Maggie and a masked friend with some serious combat skills swooped in to the rescue. (We also got a nice reunion between Maggie and Judith before all was said and done.)
The Whisperers themselves, meanwhile, seem kaput. Carol herded most of their undead horde off a cliff with an assist from Lydia, and Daryl stabbed both of Beta’s eyes out before watching him get subsumed by a giant cluster of walkers. (Technically we did not watch the life leave his eyes, though, so don’t rule out some sort of miraculous return yet.)
Which brings us to the biggest development of the episode: Eugene, Ezekiel, and a couple others went to find help from a friend named Stephanie whom Eugene met through his radio. By the looks of things, she’s a member of The Commonwealth—or at least, it was Commonwealth soldiers who found Eugene and Co. at the rendezvous point. (Although the group never name-checks themselves, their uniforms are an almost exact match for the Commonwealth militia in the comics.)
The Commonwealth’s appearance in the show has been expected for years now. By far the largest community in The Walking Dead lore, The Commonwealth is massive in the comics, with some 50,000 members, and well organized, with entertainment and sports that harken back to pre-apocalyptic times.
The group’s goal is to recreate what once was—complete with a caste system that demands those who were rich in the Before Times remain rich, while those who were poor remain poor. As one might expect, this philosophy sits better with some than others.
But did The Walking Dead also hint at what might be on the horizon for Daryl and Carol once they do wander off into the sunset alone?
Since at least the Season 10 premiere, fans have wondered if Carol and Daryl were destined to strike out on their own. In the debut episode, the two fantasized about what the rest of the world looks like—at one point even planning out an escape to New Mexico. Carol wanted to leave right away, but Daryl convinced her to stay.
On Sunday, though, Daryl reminded Carol of those plans.
“New Mexico’s still out there,” he says.
“Maybe someday,” she replies. “We still have things to do here.”
Perhaps Carol still wants to figure out her relationship with Lydia, who defected from the Whisperers after years of abuse from their leader and her mother, Alpha. Lydia did save Carol from having to walk off a cliff this week, so that seems fair.
Either way, it seems clear that even as The Walking Dead’s viewership pales in comparison to what it once was, AMC remains invested in keeping the world running—and growing—in perpetuity. Just look at World Beyond, which premieres Sunday as well.
The new YA riff on the Walking Dead formula is a largely lackluster display—a “Walking Dead” show in all the worst ways, including a dour tone and some seriously unfortunate wig choices. But it also continues to expand franchise lore, finally delving into the mysterious group that took Rick Grimes in more detail.
The helicopter that carried Rick Grimes into the sky belonged to the Civil Republic—a community shrouded in mystery with a powerful militia, known as the CRM. The community’s whereabouts are unknown, but it belongs to a trifecta that also includes the cities Omaha and Portland. Collectively, their symbol is three overlapping circles.
The new series finds sisters Iris and Hope coping with the loss of their father, an immunologist who left his daughters to help the Civic Republic find a cure for the zombie virus. Understandably, given how little anyone knows about the Civic Republic and its insular nature, neither Iris nor Hope trusts them very much.
As I said: The Walking Dead truly does seem bound to outlive us all. Even now.