Following a six-year time jump, "Stradivarius" sees Jesus (Tom Payne) as the reluctant and bored acting leader of Hilltop, running the day-to-day operations with right-hand woman Tara (Alanna Masterson).
Aaron (Ross Marquand) remarks newly-isolationist Alexandrian leader Michonne (Danai Gurira) doesn't yet know about Maggie, a fallout of the mysterious bad blood that forced the communities apart.
When chaperoning newcomer survivors Magna (Nadia Hilker), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), Kelly (Angel Theory), Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Luke (Dan Fogler) to Hilltop with Siddiq (Avi Nash), Michonne is surprised to learn Maggie hasn't been at Hilltop for quite some time.
"You don't have to worry about Maggie," Siddiq tells her.
"We can't take the risk," Michonne says. "I don't know what she'll do if she sees me."
"Michonne... Maggie's gone," Siddiq reports. "Took Hershel with her. Jesus runs Hilltop now."
Before she can inquire about Maggie's whereabouts, Michonne and the new survivors are forced to fight their way out of a bind following the sudden advancement of approaching walkers.
After the excitement, Siddiq says Maggie is with elusive benefactor Georgie (Jayne Atkinson) "someplace far... helping her with a new community."
The unnamed community could be the Commonwealth, a cluster of 50,000-something survivors that counts among its amenities a football stadium that doubles as a concert venue, which could then be fully introduced when Cohan makes her expected return to The Walking Dead in Season Ten.
Showrunner Angela Kang previously confirmed Season Nine has started to "seed in some future stories," noting "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."
Cohan has since revealed she has participated in creative talks about a potential Season Ten return and Kang hopes to be able to utilize Maggie even with Cohan's commitments to new ABC series Whiskey Cavalier.
"I hope it'll work. We'll cross that bridge [when we get to it]," Kang told ComicBook.com.
"Lauren and I have had conversations, and she's excited to come back, even if it's not for a full season. We can work with that. That's scheduling problems. We'll figure out the story. She's great. We have a great relationship, and she still loves the show. Sometimes our actors need to spread their wings a little bit. We get that."
The Walking Dead next airs its mid-season finale, "Evolution," Sunday, November 25 at 9/8c on AMC.