Andrew Lincoln’s exit from The Walking Dead a couple of weeks ago was well hyped, but it could easily have passed you by that Lauren Cohan left the show in the same episode. Though Maggie wasn’t written out as definitively as Rick Grimes was, the actress has given up her regular status on the series as she’s jumped ship to ABC’s upcoming comedy-drama Whiskey Cavalier.
Last week, the first installment of the newly Rick-free TWD didn’t have to touch on what had happened to Maggie six years on. However, episode 7, “Stradavarius,” saw various characters converge on Hilltop, and so we found out the answer. As we saw, Jesus is now the leader of the community, with Tara as his right-hand woman. Maggie’s not around, and hasn’t been for a while, because she left with Georgie to help build a new community.
Georgie appeared in season 8 as the optimistic, compassionate leader of her own group who left Hilltop a crate of her food stores as a gift. Earlier this season, we learned that Maggie was still in contact with her and that she was considering joining her group. It seems that sometime in the past six years, she made up her mind, left Hilltop and took her son Hershel with her.
It’s a neat explanation for the character’s absence. It could be permanent if Cohan never returns to the show, but it’s also flexible enough to allow her to appear again if the actress wants to. What’s more, it could also set up the introduction of this new community at some point in the future. Fans’ best guess is that Georgie and Maggie are helping build the Commonwealth, a massive, thriving network of communities that’s home to 50,000 survivors. They even have a stadium.
We’ll have to see if that ends up happening, but the first half of The Walking Dead season 9 is about to wrap up with the mid-season finale, “Evolution,” this Sunday. Don’t miss it.