While the cast and crew of AMC's The Walking Dead roll along with their deep-dive production-wise on the tenth season, life in the franchise's universe has become a lot like the NFL: neither have off-seasons anymore. With a strong ensemble cast (and a "Big Bad" fronted by Samantha Morton in an award-earning turn as Whisperers leader Alpha) and richly layered writing, showrunner/executive producer Angela Kang did the near-impossible: made the show feel fresh and dangerous again.
By now, if you're a fan of the Walking Dead universe and you haven't heard that Lauren Cohan's returning as Maggie – congratulations on waking up from your coma or visiting the outside world from the cave you were living in/rock you were living under.
Whatever the case, with Danai Gurira's Michonne setting sails this season Cohan's return comes at just the right time – but is that "right time" actually going to be this season? It seems so, according to Kang – who spoke to EW about the timing of her return: "We may see her at some other point this season, but I don't want to say too much about anything."
Though Maggie departed the community during the first-half of season 9 to join Georgie's hands-on society-building mission, Kang made sure the series name-dropped her on several occasions as a not-so-subtle but effective way to keep her front-and-center in TWD fans' (and our characters') minds:
"The idea that Maggie's kind of out there in the world up to things and that they're thinking about her has been seeded in for a while. So she's definitely on our characters' minds as they're dealing with all this stuff going on and realizing that some of the people that are really capable and wonderful that they love are just out there and inaccessible to them at the moment."
One thing Kang wants to make clear is that behind the scenes, plans to bring Cohan back in some capacity had been underway (behind the scenes) for some time:
"I personally love LC so much. She's just such a warm, wonderful, funny presence around the set. We've been saying for a while that the goal was always to figure out when we can continue her story, and there were a lot of logistics that needs to be worked out. Maybe it felt like to fans nothing was happening and it was all lies. But behind the scenes there have been conversations all along, and so I could not personally be more excited that it all is finally worked out. It's going to be some fun stuff."
We didn't mince words over how impressed we were with season opener "Lines We Crossed" (check out our review here). Then we had Morton, Ryan Hurst, and Thora Birch raising the bar even higher with "We Are the End of the World" (check out our review here), – offering up some Whisperers backstory. "Ghosts" elevated the paranoia as Melissa McBride continues delivering an award-winning performance (that review's here) – and recent episode "Silence the Whisperers" proved once again why it's "In Michael Cudlitz, We Trust" (review here).
Which brings us to the following trailer for next episode "What It Always Is", which finds a now-free Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) seemingly on a one-way path towards a certain group of walker skin-wearers. Back at Hilltop, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Siddiq (Avi Nash) reunite with a clearly ill Ezekiel (Khary Payton) – as tensions outside (and within) the community continue to grow.
"The Walking Dead" season 10, episode 5 "What It Always Is": Supplies go missing from Hilltop; Negan is idolized by an Alexandrian; Ezekiel holds a secret. Directed by Laura Belsey and written by Eli Jorne.
The Walking Dead is a story that started 10 years ago with one man trying to find his family. That family grew and gradually communities took shape. They fought and survived, thrived and gave birth to a new generation. It is a tale of humankind and there are more stories to tell.
It is now Spring, a few months after the end of Season 9, when our group of survivors dared to cross into Whisperer territory during the harsh winter. The collected communities are still dealing with the after effects of Alpha's horrific display of power, reluctantly respecting the new borderlines being imposed on them, all while organizing themselves into a militia-style fighting force, preparing for a battle that may be unavoidable.
But the Whisperers are a threat unlike any they have ever faced. Backed by a massive horde of the dead it is seemingly a fight they cannot win. The question of what to do and the fear it breeds will infect the communities and give rise to paranoia, propaganda, secret agendas, and infighting that will test them as individuals and as a society. The very idea of whether civilization can survive in a world filled with the dead hangs in the balance.