The Walking Dead recap: Maggie met some new friends — and enemies
After its own tumultuous year of delays, changes to the story arc, and a cautious production start on the eleventh and final season, The Walking Dead is finally back on track with new episodes airing on AMC. "Home Sweet Home" marks the first of six new ones tacked on to season 10 before the network launches into the bananas 22-episode order for 2022. Some of these hourlong installments were made from material initially planned for season 11. Some were freshly created for this new course to the show. So far, it's laid the groundwork for old grievances, rekindled friendships, and the post-Whisperer threats.
Let's start with Maggie, because this episode is mainly about her. Where exactly has she been all this time, and what has she been up to?
As she explains to Daryl over the course of "Home Sweet Home," she just couldn't stand to let Negan occupy space in her mind. So, when Georgie, the bespectacled visitor with her knowledge of agriculture and industry from season 8, offered a place for Maggie alongside her and her twin bodyguards, she took the opportunity. Since Hilltop was going so well, she decided to remain with Georgie and do for other communities what she did for Hilltop, while lettering back home when she could. Things were good for a while, but they always went "sideways," she said.
They then found a village near Knoxville, Tenn., where they taught people how to reroute water and build a forge. Maggie thought she might go home after that, but she took Hershel to her nanna's old home by the ocean and had a change of heart. It was a place she and Glenn once planned to visit for a time. She realized there that didn't want to bring her son back to Hilltop where her baggage with Negan might start up again. Unfortunately, she would have no other choice but to go home. Georgie heard about a city out West, and she left with the twins. Maggie hasn't heard from her since. Meanwhile, a group called the Reapers, a ferocious lot that cuts down everything in their path, found their Knoxville village and attacked, leaving behind few survivors. Maggie, Hershel, and their remaining people fled. She hoped to bring them back to Hilltop, and that's, presumably, around the time she found the latest letter from Carol asking for help with the Whisperers.
Most of her people remained camped out in the woods, while Maggie took Cole and Elijah — the latter being the man in the metal mask — to help fight the Whisperers. In the aftermath of that bloodbath, Maggie is forced to grapple with the idea that Negan is out of jail and that Carol was the one who let him out. Daryl promises the group still hasn't decided what to do about Negan yet. Regardless, they must first retrieve the rest of her people before she can get fully into that issue. With Hilltop decimated, she now has her eyes set on Alexandria.
Kelly, hoping to find clues to Connie's whereabouts, tags along with Maggie, Daryl, Cole, and Elijah into the woods. She doesn't, even when she decides to leave her post to search for signs, but she does find a kindred spirit in Elijah. He doesn't speak, but Maggie says he, too, lost a sister recently. Their relationship deepens when the mission gets complicated.
They reach the spot where Maggie's people were camped, but the entire place burned down. Two bodies lie charred in the back of the house. Is it the Reapers? Cole and Maggie are convinced they've been followed from Knoxville, but it doesn't seem like it. The group splits up to follow the tracks from those who scattered into the woods, and they find a lone sniper shooting everyone down one by one. We still have no idea who this man is. He clearly has military training with a lot of weapons at his disposal, and he's dressed in camouflage when he jumps out to attack Maggie. She and Daryl fend him off until Kelly, Cole, and Elijah reach them with additional ammo. Maggie demands the man tell her who she is, but all he says is, "Pope marked you." Who the heck is Pope? Is he a Reaper? Neither Pope or the Reapers are characters from the comics, unless they are secretly some conglomerate of figures. But that's all we get for now before their attacker pulls the pins from the grenades hidden in his vest and blows himself up.
Maggie and Daryl find Hershel, now a young kid who wears a baseball hat just like Glenn, sitting safely up in a tree nearby. The group says they'll camp in the area for a few days to make sure this mystery man was by himself and that no one can follow them back to Alexandria.
Alexandria, however, has seen better days as it is. When they finally make it there, everyone is busy building it back up. Beta and the Whisperers wrecked the place as a final parting gift. But Maggie is determined to make a home for Hershel and her people there. Negan pops his head out of a house to watch Maggie and Hershel walk by. He's visibly affected by the sight of them and the memory of Glenn. Clearly, that beef still isn't squashed.