Maggie makes a big karmic choice in The Walking Dead's return that sets up a time-jump reveal.

If it wasn't for The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang completely shooting down the Naggie shippers, it was really starting to look like all this tense cozying up between Lauren Cohan's Maggie and Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan was leading to some kind of romantic entanglement, which would've been insane. Now, after Sunday brought the premiere of the second part of season 11 (season 11B, you might say), maybe those seeds were planted because Maggie is going to be taking on a Negan-like role in the final episodes.

It's the decision she made at Meridian, plus the time-jump reveal in the episode's last few minutes, that hint she could be reaching the end of a dark road she's been trekking along for some time. We all heard the f---ed up things she saw while out alone in the zombie wilds with Hershel. Do anything to protect your own because everyone else are terrible, seems to be her guiding mantra.

It's something Negan has openly said he relates to. He once confided in Maggie that, given the chance to go back in time, he would've killed all the Alexandrians for the sake of his own community. Now, there are some pretty big flaws in that logic, like how half of his people were suffering at his hands and he was more than happy to kill them for talking back, but it's why Maggie now turns to him before making a pretty big karmic choice.

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan on The Walking Dead Season 11
Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan on 'The Walking Dead'
| Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC (2)

Leah's rain of fire doesn't wipe out Maggie's crew. Instead, they fight their way until only a few remain. Both sides meet on the open field, each team thinking they have the upper hand. Daryl holds a knife to Carver's throat, hoping to use his hostage as leverage for a peaceful resolution. But he doesn't know that Leah secretly has a sniper fixed on them, and after she gets Carver back, it's looking like everyone is going to be executed. But then it turns out that Gabriel has killed the sniper and is now the one holding the gun.

Leah immediately backtracks and says she'll agree to Daryl's original offer, but you can see that about-face only serves to tick off Maggie. It plays to her already ballooning fears that, if given the chance, people will ultimately take advantage. It's us or them. She turns to Negan, who says she knows what he would do in her position. At first, she lets Leah and her men walk away. But she changes her mind. Maggie takes out her gun and kills them all — except for Leah, who, though wounded, is able to get away.

Daryl is stunned by Maggie's decision, but pretty much keeps his mouth shut on the matter as they get all their supplies together and head back to Alexandria. (Also, R.I.P. Alden, who has turned into a walker by the time Maggie finally goes back for him.) Daryl's reaction also foreshadows the reveal in the final moments of this week's episode.

Shortly after returning to Alexandria, the gang get some surprise visitors: Eugene is leading Lance Hornsby and Commonwealth soldiers to their front gates. Lance steps up before the community to make an offer: the Commonwealth can give them enough resources to rebuild everything they've lost, or they can just join the Commonwealth.

The Alexandrians are in a position where it would really benefit them from accepting aid. While Maggie and the others were away, it was a slog trying to protect the community. Aaron came to Judith and Gracie's rescue in the flooded basement, and then Lydia came to his rescue when things turned even more sour, but the town was in shambles by the end of it. Even with the new food supply from Meredian, they were still seen rationing apples. It's no surprise that when the show triggers a six-month time jump we see Daryl dressed in a Commonwealth soldier's uniform. But not everyone, it seems, took that offer.

The sequence reveals Daryl, his fellow Commonwealth troops, and Lance standing before Hilltop, which has since been rebuilt. He tells Maggie to open the gates.

"It doesn't have to be this way," she says.

"Yeah. Yeah, it does," he replies.

Now, sometimes these kind of time jumps can be misleading. Although it seems that this is setting up a Maggie vs. Daryl civil war, it's also just as plausible that Daryl is playing along, like he did with the Reapers, and is still on Maggie's side. What we do know from the Walking Dead season 11 trailers is that Daryl isn't the only one who ends up joining the Commonwealth — at least, at first. Carol, Magna, Rosita, Connie, and Kelly are all spotted inside Commonwealth grounds in various societal roles, while Elijah sticks with Maggie at Hilltop.

When do things go south? How do things go south? Those answers are yet to be discovered, but Maggie's Negan-esque descent doesn't seem to jive with the Commonwealth's code of conduct.

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The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

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