The Walking Dead Season Nine finale ended with Hilltop-based King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) making contact with Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) of Alexandria through a long-range radio developed by Eugene (Josh McDermitt), only for a stranger to come through the transmission. Closed captioning confirms the voice belongs to a female and reveals garbled dialogue:
“Hello? Hello?” asks the voice. “Calling out live on the open air. Is anybody out there?” But the voice goes unheard: Ezekiel has signed off, leaving a mystery to be explored when Season Ten launches in October.
“I mean, that’s part of the question, right?” showrunner Angela Kang told ComicBook.com when asked about the radio making contact with a currently undiscovered group. “I don’t want to give too much away about that, but I will say we will get answers to that question within Season Ten. It’s always interesting for us to introduce new people into our world, and the different ways they come in, so that will definitely be an important aspect of the story going forward.”
The season-ending scene borrows from The Walking Dead issue #151, and the dialogue is nearly word-for-word lifted from the comic:
“This is Eugene Porter calling out on the open air,” Eugene says when fiddling with his radio. “Anyone out there?” He repeats. “This is Eugene Porter calling out live on the open air. Is anyone out there?” Radio silence. But then the radio stirs to life.
“Read you loud and clear, Eugene Porter. Come in. Do you read us? Over.”
Though initially hesitant to reveal details surrounding their location or the size of their group, Eugene’s contact is eventually revealed to be Stephanie, a radio operator who becomes a penpal (and later girlfriend) for the inventor.
Later, it’s learned Stephanie is a member of the Commonwealth, an Ohio-based network of more than 50,000 survivors linked across different settlements. The Commonwealth operates on a class system and is so self-efficient it boasts such amenities as bakeries, cafes, a court room, and an entertainment stadium.
Michonne, Eugene, Siddiq, Yumiko, and Magna are the first to encounter the Commonwealth when they travel there by horseback, propelling the comics into its current story that is still unfolding. Though it first appears to be the return to civilized society envisioned by Rick Grimes, chaos quickly arrives when civil unrest settles in.
“It’s looking ahead like the post-credits thing for a Marvel movie or something,” Kang told EW when confirming the hook that closed Season Nine will be explored in Season Ten. “But it’s definitely something that I’m sure people will speculate about. We welcome that speculation. The world of The Walking Dead, it keeps opening up, so who’s out there? What do they want? How will they interact? Whatever it is, it is something that will turn the story in hopefully a satisfying and interesting way.”
The Walking Dead returns with its tenth season this October on AMC.
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