The Walking Dead Season Nine is planting the seeds to introduce the Commonwealth, an expansion to the universe currently playing out a major role in creator Robert Kirkman’s comic books.
“Obviously the Commonwealth does mean things to people; we’re starting to seed in some future stories,” showrunner Angela Kang told IGN. “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.”
Kang confirmed an Easter Egg spotted in the first Season Nine trailer — a pinwheel reading “Commonwealth” — was a knowing nod to the group from the comic book, who were introduced on the tail end of the conflict between the survivors and enemy group the Whisperers.
Other signs point to Commonwealth in the form of a camping ground’s wooden direction post aimed towards Toledo, Ohio — the state being the home to the Commonwealth, a network of 50,000-something survivors interspersed throughout different settlements. The Commonwealth is so well-off it has a maintained stadium that still hosts football games and concerts.
In the ‘New World Order’ arc of the comics, several survivors belonging to Rick Grimes’ Alexandria Safe-Zone — Michonne, Eugene, Siddiq, Magna, Yumiko, and newcomer Juanita — encounter the Commonwealth when exploring Ohio after being drawn there by Stephanie, Eugene’s over-the-radio pen pal.
It’s there the survivors learn the Commonwealth operates on a class system, under the rule of governor Pamela Milton. An influx of new characters came with it, bringing to the page such central figures as Sebastian Milton, Mercer, Lance Hornsby, and Maxwell Hawkins.
It was also the place Michonne was reunited with her teen daughter Elodie, who Michonne was separated from in the early days of the apocalypse. In the television series, Michonne (Danai Gurira) had a young son, who was killed by walkers early on when left in the care of Michonne’s irresponsible boyfriend.
The recurring helicopter that has popped up infrequently, having ties to Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh), formerly Jadis of the Scavengers, could be tied to the yet-to-be-seen Commonwealth — an organization grand enough to have a working helicopter in its possession.
“One of the things I know fans have been interested by is this helicopter, and so we will learn a little bit more about that mystery and how it might connect to other people or other places,” Kang teased.
Georgie, who popped up last season as a mysterious benefactor offering the Hilltop her assistance in the form of a guidebook meant to help the simple farming community build itself up, could also have ties to the helicopter and/or Commonwealth — suspicions shared by actress Jayne Atkinson.
“I can’t imagine that there isn’t [a tie to Pamela Milton], but I was not told that,” Atkinson told ComicBook.com. When shown a picture of Pamela Milton in the Walking Dead comic book, Atkinson pointed out her resemblance to Pamela, and suggested Georgie is “being modeled after this character.”
Because executive producer and former showrunner Scott Gimple has long been preparing for the exit of Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln, who steps away from the series in Season Nine, the ongoing mystery surrounding Anne and her ties to the helicopter as well as the sudden introduction of Georgie could be setup for the Commonwealth down the line — and just might be tied to the exit of both Lincoln and Maggie actress Lauren Cohan.
The Walking Dead Season Nine premieres tonight at 9/8c on AMC.