Be warned of major spoilers below for The Walking Dead's Season 8 premiere.
Even though The Walking Dead ended Season 8 with Rick pissing a lot of people off by calling for Negan's life to be spared, the first big Season 9 reveal doesn't have to do with either of the two lead characters, or any human beings. In fact, The Walking Dead will very likely be introducing the live-action version of the distinctively large windmill serving as Alexandria's calling card in the comics, which is a pretty good sign that the TV show will indeed set up a substantial time jump whenever Season 9 arrives, presumably with that giant herd in tow.
First, the confirmed facts. The show's location manager Mike Riley reached out to the Senoia City Council to get permission to construct a 55-foot-tall windmill in the local area that serves as the show's Alexandra Safe Zone. According to the Newnan Times-Herald, the permit being sought would last for three years, which could possibly tie into the show's legitimate end game, though probably not, and is likely just a paperwork stipulation. Production company Stalwart Films has requested to add a matching extension onto its own permit that allows them to access and close Morgan Street, as well as the area around the big protective wall.
At this point, the case is still pending, since a 55-foot windmill would also need a height variance from the city. To get the variance, a public hearing is required, so steps are being taken to make that happen. In the meantime, though, the city council did vote to allow the production crew to build the base of the windmill, and the structure will be designed by an engineer. (And not the sight-troubled Father Gabriel, thankfully.) As well, the council voted to approve the production company's permit extension. So barring something going totally haywire at the public hearing, it would seem as if that windmill will be bringing (faux) power to Alexandrians in the coming months.
As previously stated, the windmill's appearance in the early half of Season 9 makes me think that a time jump would need to be involved, since I'm not sure anyone recuperating from the All Out War will be willing or able to slap a windmill together on the weekend. Oh yeah, and Alexandria was almost completely destroyed the last time we saw it, so the rebuilding effort would need to happen before anything else. The effort would be long and painstaking, but fully worth it in the end, when the survivors can use something besides an old generator for power.
Besides hinting at a time jump, the existence of a windmill within The Walking Dead's upcoming seasons means that Maggie and others probably put to use the Key given to them by the enigmatic Georgie, who promised that she would return one day. Georgie would probably be impressed to see the windmill come together in such a massive way, especially if it can be used to power a gramophone or two.
The Walking Dead is still in the pre-production stages for Season 9 -- obviously, since windmills are still in negotiations -- but you can catch Fear the Walking Dead Season 4 every Sunday night on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what new and returning shows are on the way soon, head to our midseason premiere guide and our summer premiere schedule