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"A New Beginning" is the first episode of the ninth season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the one-hundred and sixteenth episode of the series overall. It premiered on October 7, 2018. It was written by Angela Kang and directed by Greg Nicotero.
At the Sanctuary, the walker-filled yard has been replaced with crops. Rosita helps Eugene with an experiment while Laura reports something to Daryl, who's now in charge. He goes to the yard and notices Arat and Justin trying to use a walker as a scarecrow, like they used to do, under the pretense to scare off the crows, but Daryl puts it down.
On the road, Tara is scouting when Eugene radios her, informing her that Daryl will be meeting the rest of the group so they can go to Washington, D.C. to search for farming materials.
Rick and the group break into the Smithsonian to search for a covered wagon and farming equipment. As they walk over a fragile glass floor, they notice a group of walkers under it. Suddenly, a walker drops from a balcony onto it, cracking the pane, before Daryl puts it down.
Rick tells everyone to be safe and the group separates.
By the stairs, Cyndie sees an old canoe and remembers an experience with her brother. Daryl relates to her and the two of them lift the canoe.
Back in the basement, Rick's group finds packages of seeds and beans. Rick thanks Anne for the lead, while she tells Gabriel that she knew of this because she once brought her class back when she was teaching.
While returning to the stairs, Maggie tells Michonne and Carol that Gregory called for an election at the Hilltop and lost, making Maggie the rightful leader. Michonne stops and looks at a display of politics and how to unite different colonies.
Shortly after, the whole group reunites and gingerly uses ropes to drag an old covered wagon down the stairs and over the glass floor. The glass finally gives way and Ezekiel falls through it, dangling by the rope. Before the walkers can bite him, Daryl shoots at one, and Rick and the others finally pull him to safety. Carol joyfully kisses him to celebrate.
The group leaves D.C. and prepares to head back to the communities.
On the road, Alden talks to Kenneth and Marco about blacksmithing at the Hilltop. In the back, Ezekiel proposes to Carol. She tells him to put the ring away and reminds him she doesn't want to be asked yet, especially on a horse. Ezekiel smiles and tells her he still loves her.
Rosita and Daryl catch up with everyone to inform them that the main bridge is out due to the back end of a herd. Rick tells Tara, Gabriel, Aaron and Anne to head back to Alexandria, and the rest will go an alternate route and spend the night at the Sanctuary.
In the woods, the wagon gets caught in the mud as walkers appear from the bushes. It finally refuses to budge and everyone rushes to gather the supplies until the walkers overwhelm them and they're forced to leave. Ken runs back to free his horses but is bitten in the arm by a walker and then kicked in the ribs by the horse.
Siddiq and Enid try to save him but Ken succumbs to blood loss and dies from his injuries. A saddened Maggie sobs by his side before putting him down.
At night, in Hilltop, Maggie breaks the news of Ken's death to his parents, Tammy and Earl. An emotional Tammy scolds Maggie for getting her son killed, reminding her that she voted for her in the election. Earl tries to calm her down but Tammy doesn't listen and criticizes Maggie's decision to supply the Saviors. A shocked Maggie offers to help with the funeral but Tammy declines and refuses her presence at the service.
Later, the Hilltop gathers for Ken's funeral. Alden sings as Gregory gives a eulogy. Maggie holds her son, Hershel, and watches from the balcony.
At the Sanctuary, Rick and the group arrive to deliver supplies. Michonne points out graffiti that proclaims, "We are still Negan", and Daryl demands Justin clean it up. Rick promises to the Saviors that he’ll continue to support them so they can get back on their feet. Everyone applauds him and treats him like a celebrity.
Daryl pulls Rick aside to tell him that he no longer wants to lead the place because he doesn't belong there and since it's a factory, it can't produce crops. He suggests he return to Hilltop to check on Maggie and Hershel, but Rick argues he should return to Alexandria. "Things have changed", Rick says, but Daryl claims it's because Rick changed them, before going out.
Outside, Carol follows Daryl and offers to take over the Sanctuary for him. She tells him about Zeke's proposal and says she wants to take her time. Daryl is surprised and asks if he should stay with her. She declines and rests her head on his shoulder.
In their trailer, Tammy mourns her son while Gregory gets Earl drunk and suggests Maggie doesn't have to be the leader anymore.
In the Sanctuary, Rick and Michonne settle into bed and Michonne asks if they did the right thing by letting Negan live. However, Rick stands by his choice. She then proposes that they create a charter between the communities: laying out guidelines and punishment. Rick agrees and tells her how lucky he is to have found her. They kiss and make love.
Back at the Hilltop, Maggie takes Hershel out for a stroll and runs into Gregory, who tells her someone may have defaced Glenn's grave. Upset, she rushes towards the grave and is attacked by a hooded stranger, who also knocks over Hershel’s stroller. Enid intervenes but gets pushed to the ground hard and is knocked out. Alden and Cyndie grab the assailant and Maggie rips off his hood to reveal a drunken Earl.
Maggie rushes over to Gregory's place and accuses him of trying to get her killed. He angrily reminds her that he built this place and tries to stab her with a knife, but she overpowers him and holds it to his neck.
The next day, Carol tells Ezekiel she's staying at Sanctuary and instructs Jerry to take care of him as they head off.
Daryl, Michonne and Rick arrive at the Hilltop to find the workers building gallows. Later, Rick asks Maggie to visit Alexandria but she says she can't because Negan's there. He asks for her help in fixing the bridge, which includes providing supplies to the Sanctuary. She says she'll only agree if the Saviors agree to provide the labor and fuel. Rick says he can't and he's obliged to help, but Maggie disagrees and reminds her that he never ended up following her as he promised, but now he should.
In the night, the residents gather around the gallows as Maggie explains to her people that the punishment fits the crime. She looks on at Gregory, who has a noose around his neck and is sitting on a horse. Gregory pleads for someone to stop this, but no one moves. A couple of kids show up and Michonne yells for Maggie to stop but it's too late as Daryl smacks the horse and it rides off, leaving Gregory to hang to death to everyone's shock.
Maggie tells her people that she wants this to be the last time they do something like this. A shocked Rick and Michonne look on as Maggie then orders Daryl to cut off the noose.
- James Chen as Kal
- Matt Mangum as D.J.
- Chloe Aktas as Tanya
- Gustavo Gomez as Marco
- AJ Achinger as Kenneth Sutton
- Courtney Patterson as Mel
- First appearance of Hershel Rhee. (Physically)
- First appearance of Justin.
- First appearance of Marco.
- First appearance of Tammy Rose Sutton.
- First appearance of Earl Sutton.
- First (and last) appearance of Kenneth Sutton.
- Last appearance of Potter. (Unknown)
- Last appearance of Tanya. (Unknown)
- Last appearance of Mel. (Unknown)
- Last appearance of Gregory.
- The title of the episode, "A New Beginning", is a reference to the time after the war where all the communities are thriving and working together for a better future.
- This episode is 86 minutes long, with commercials, according to AMC's schedule.
- It is the first extended episode this season and the thirty-second overall.
- The Sanctuary still bears signs of damage from the war between the communities despite eighteen months having passed. Notably, the windows shot out by the Militia in "Mercy" are still shot out.
- Maggie reminds Rick that he had told her that when the war was over, he would be following her. This is a reference to the episode "Mercy."
- As of this episode, Katelyn Nacon (Enid) and Tom Payne (Jesus) have been added to the opening credits
- Also, as of this episode, Lennie James (Morgan Jones) has been removed from the opening credits.
- Austin Amelio (Dwight) is no longer listed under "Also Starring".
- Xander Berkeley (Gregory), Khary Payton (Ezekiel) and Pollyanna McIntosh (Anne) are still listed under "Also Starring" despite being regulars in previous seasons.
- This is the first episode featuring Callan McAuliffe (Alden) and Avi Nash (Siddiq) as series regulars. They are listed under "Also Starring".
- Lindsley Register (Laura) and Traci Dinwiddie (Regina) are upgraded from "Co-Stars" to "Also Starring" in this episode.
- This is the sixth episode to share the same title of a Comic Series volume, after "Days Gone Bye", "Made to Suffer", "This Sorrowful Life", "Too Far Gone" and "No Way Out".
- This episode, along with "Days Gone Bye" and "No Way Out" are the only episodes to be directly adapted from the respective comic volumes of the same name. The other seven used the titles for episodes that are not directly related to the source material from that volume.
- This episode marks the first time Judith Grimes is seen speaking full sentences.
- This episode was dedicated to Scott Wilson, due to his passing the day before the episode aired. Scott portrayed Hershel Greene from Season 2 to Season 4.
- Regina is shown using a cane to walk due to the gunshot wound she received during the war.
- When Daryl gives Carol the cigarette, she tells him that it will kill him. She said the same thing to Molly in "The Same Boat", as well as Shelly Neudermeyer in "JSS".
- This episode marks the debut of a new animated opening credits sequence, which includes several easter eggs from past seasons.
- The museum in Washington, D.C. is based on the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The museum scenes were filmed in the Georgia State Capitol.
- Alexandria being rebuilt and using pikes at their gates is adapted from Issue 127.
- Rick's new look after the war is adapted from Issue 127.
- Rick and his family watching a flock of birds flying on a field is a slight nod to Luke commenting that the birds are migrating in Issue 127.
- Regina using a cane to walk is a slight nod to Rick starting to use a cane in Issue 127.
- Regina walking trough the Sanctuary's crops with a cane is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 127, where Rick uses a cane to walk trough Alexandria instead.
- Rick gaining celebrity status for ending the war against Negan is adapted from Issue 132.
- Daryl telling Rick that he no longer wants to lead the Sanctuary is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 141, where Dwight confesses this instead.
- Gregory trying to convince Earl to kill Maggie is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 137, where he tries to convince the Rose family instead.
- Earl's attempt to kill Maggie while wearing a dark hood is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 150, where Rick is attacked by Morton instead.
- Maggie confronting Gregory and claiming he can't even murder someone right is adapted from Issue 138.
- Rick spending time with Hershel Jr. at Hilltop is adapted from Issue 132.
- Rick visiting Maggie at Hilltop to convince her to help the Sanctuary is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 132, where he visits Hilltop to leave Carl instead.
- Gregory being hanged as punishment is adapted from Issue 141.
- The National Mall shown in the episode is much smaller than it is in real life. In addition, the Capitol Reflecting Pool and Ulysses S. Grant Memorial appear to be missing from the Capitol Building.
- Despite being based on the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the museum also features galleries on American history and fine art, which in reality are in separate museums.
- When the group enters the museum, a Georgia state seal is visible on a pane of glass in the lobby, even though they're supposed to be in Washington, D.C.
- As Daryl and Rosita ride up to the group to inform them about the bridge being out, if you look closely at Rosita's back, you can clearly see a wireless microphone pack attached to her.