In the opening minutes from Sunday's penultimate episode of Fear Season 5, "Channel 5," Pioneer leader Virginia (Colby Minifie) records a propaganda tape inspired by the documentary produced by Morgan (Lennie James) and Althea (Maggie Grace), who belong to a convoy of nearly 40 altruistic helpers traveling across the west. As Virginia tells it, the Pioneers' mission is the same — just on a grander scale and without the no-kill clause.
"The future isn't some far-flung flight of fancy. We are building it every day. Each one of us holds the key. That's why we wear these," Virginia says, pointing to a key pinned to her chest. "Now, this isn't about how we can help you. This is about how we can all help each other. How we can fix the things that are broken." Virginia delivers her seemingly well-meaning speech stood in front of a Texas map showing six settlements, each marked with similar keys.
The key imagery brings to mind the efforts of Georgie, a put-together woman encountered by Hilltop colony leader Maggie, Michonne (Danai Gurira), Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) in TWD 812, "The Key." There Georgie, traveling with twins Hilda (Kim Ormiston) and Midge (Misty Ormiston) by van, told the suspicious foursome she was trading knowledge. Georgie, too, extolled the goodness of people, saying their belief in one another could lead to a sustainable future.
Later, Georgie supplied the needy Hilltop with a sizable portion of her food stores in exchange for musical records — no spoken word — and "good faith," making it clear it was barter, not a gift, and she would return sometime later expecting "great things."
Georgie also gave Maggie what she called a "key to a future," a guide containing handwritten plans for windmills, watermills, silos, hand-drawn schematics and how-tos for refining grain, creating lumber and making aqueducts. The evolving document is "a book of medieval human achievement so we may have a future from our past." Georgie then left with orders for Maggie to build up the Hilltop.
Some 18 months later, in Season 9, the Hilltop was flourishing. Some time after that, Maggie quietly left Hilltop with young son Hershel and installed Jesus (Tom Payne) as leader. Because the formerly allied Alexandria, Hilltop, Kingdom and Oceanside communities became fractured following the apparent death of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne would only learn of Maggie's departure when adviser Siddiq (Avi Nash) broke his silence.
As Siddiq revealed in TWD 907, "Stradivarius," Maggie relocated with Georgie "someplace far... helping her with a new community." Maggie has since kept in touch with her friends, infrequently sending communication via letter: an offscreen Maggie was mentioned in TWD 916 and will get another mention in the Season 10 opener.
Virginia has already denied any connection to the shadowy CRM organization who have a penchant for making survivors disappear — Rick Grimes included — but the Pioneers, like Georgie's apparently sizable group, are a far-reaching, future-focused organization.
"They said they were trying to build something bigger, something better," new survivor Tom (Joe Massingill) says of the Pioneers in Fear 514. "They said that it wasn't about today, it was about tomorrow. I just wasn't part of it." Tom reiterates the Pioneers care about only one thing: the future.
Like Georgie, Virginia is committed to founding a future built by people working together, having already established multiple settlements with well-off survivors. As she told Morgan, the future is "a lot easier to get to when you're not doing it on your own."
If there is a connection established between the Pioneers and Maggie, their first meeting is many months or even years away: Fear Season 5 is currently set roughly seven months before Rick's disappearance from Virginia, which was immediately followed by a six-year time jump. It was at some point during those mostly unseen six years that Maggie departed Hilltop with Georgie.
In April, Cohan — who exited TWD in a full-time capacity after five episodes in the front half of Season 9 — said she was "definitely not done" with TWD Universe.
TWD showrunner Angela Kang in September said the show is still "trying to work on" Cohan's return, telling TVLine, "We've got ideas [for Maggie]."
After crossing over for the first time when TWD transplant Morgan joined Fear in Season 4, both shows grew further intertwined in the spinoff's fifth season when the CRM organization — the same group who first appeared on TWD — crossed paths with the Fear survivors in Texas.
When asked if the two shows will exhibit more interaction following the additions of Morgan and then Dwight (Austin Amelio) to the spinoff, Fear showrunner Ian Goldberg in April said he expected future intersection between the two shows — but such decisions will be made by TWD chief content officer Scott Gimple, who served as TWD showrunner in Georgie's premiere season.0comments
"[Showrunner] Andrew [Chambliss] and I are really just focused on Fear. Scott Gimple is in charge of the greater universe," Goldberg said. "I think we can say it's a universe that's constantly expanding and intersecting with each other, so anything's possible. We've seen crossovers happen and they've been really exciting, so I'd say to expect more."
Fear the Walking Dead next airs its penultimate episode of Season 5 Sunday, Sep. 22 on AMC. The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres on the network Sunday, Oct. 6. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.