The key to the future of The Walking Dead could be ties between Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Virginia (Colby Minifie), the leader of settlements sprinkled throughout the west in Fear the Walking Dead. Maggie recently returned to The Walking Dead after years on the road with Georgie (Jayne Atkinson), the Hilltop benefactor who entrusted her with a "key to a future" in season 8 episode "The Key." An evolving document containing plans to unlock "medieval human achievements," Georgie's "A Key to a Future" gave Maggie blueprints to develop the Hilltop colony before she accompanied Georgie on a years-long expedition taking them far away from Virginia.
In season 10 episode "A Certain Doom," Maggie returns to Virginia dressed in western attire and accompanied by a metal-masked bodyguard from an as-yet-unnamed community. Maggie's arrival comes not long after Michonne (Danai Gurira) joins a massive caravan of similarly dressed travelers, who we see moving in formation as they migrate north in "What We Become."
On Fear the Walking Dead, key badges identify Virginia and her Pioneers, who operate multiple settlements throughout the west — including at least six in Texas and a base in Lawton, Oklahoma. In season 5, Virginia said the keys are symbolic of people who "hold the key" to the future.
In Sunday's season 6 episode of Fear, also titled "The Key," Virginia pins a golden key to Lawton Ranger John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) — a token of gratitude and what Virginia calls "a key to the future. Our future." Lawton is just one of many settlements that is part of a "great franchise," one focused on expansion to build the future.
Georgie expressed a similar goal in "The Key," where she approached Hilltop with the means to progress their community in exchange for nothing but a crate of phonographic records. If Georgie is an affiliate of Virginia and the Pioneers, it could explain why she scouts prospective civilizations and gives them "A Key to a Future."
The Walking Dead's six new season 10 bonus episodes, airing in early 2021 on AMC, will answer questions about Maggie's absence and her new group. It's all part of the multiple mythologies spanning the Walking Dead Universe, already largely connected by the Civic Republic Military organization linking all three shows.
Because present-day action on Fear is still several years behind Maggie's return to The Walking Dead — now set a decade post-outbreak — the Pioneers may expand their reach to the southeastern United States by the time of season 10. Executive producer and chief content officer Scott Gimple has confirmed Fear will undergo multiple time jumps in season 6, possibly moving its timeline closer in sync with The Walking Dead.
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead premiere Sundays at 9 pm ET/8c on AMC.