Spoilers for The Walking Dead are below.
When The Walking Dead debuted, it introduced Rick Grimes and followed him across different areas of a world overrun by reanimated corpses, from a hospital to a neighborhood to a mostly abandoned Atlanta. Ever since, the show has been building up the sizes of its temporary central locations to perhaps one day get these characters back to something as large-scale as the world they once knew. Here in the back half of Season 6, The Walking Dead has expanded its borders once more and introduced the Hilltop Colony, a community first seen in the comic books that boasts its own assortment of important characters and complex situations. What an introduction it was, too.
In much the same way it happened in the source material, the show brings the Hilltop Colony out first through an introductory description from Jesus – in which he describes a scenario where Alexandria and Hilltop could be trade-route buddies – and then later in “real life” as Rick and a small group accompany Jesus back to the settlement. And it’s immediately obvious just why Jesus and the rest of the Colony would want the Alexandrians’ help: they basically have no way to defend themselves, either with effective weapons or through trained warriors. (It’s kind of like Rick entering Alexandria all over again on that front.) But they do have food and livestock and the land to keep it all going, not to mention tons of FEMA trailers and a huge main house that serves as a solid headquarters, so that's their advantage. Plus, ultrasound machines, what what??
The Hilltop Colony is run by a surly and self-preserving piece of shit named Gregory, played in the AMC drama by Salem’s Xander Berkeley, and the actor does a fine job of making this guy look scum, but the exact kind of scum that could feasibly retain leadership over a post-apocalyptic community such as this. As is made clear, the somewhat safe haven isn’t without its problems, as the dreaded Negan and his Saviors have been sapping their resources solely as “protection” and whatnot. And it’s indeed the possibility of being free of that imposing threat, which would allow Hilltop to evolve more quickly, that gets the recovering stab victim Gregory to stop being such a dick to Maggie and agree to her proposal. In the ugh-est way possible.
In case anyone is worried about watching a Walking Dead episode where the entire population of Alexandria abandons ship and makes the trek to Hilltop Colony, take comfort in knowing only a smaller group of survivors are eventually headed to the new area as a permanent solution. Everyone didn’t injure their muscles going ham on the walker herd a couple of weeks ago merely to completely leave Alexandria behind a short while later. Expect for the storylines to bounce between the locations in the future, with more on the way.
Rick & Co. certainly thought they’d gotten into some kind of utopia when they reached Alexandria with its hot showers and shaving equipment. But now they’ve found a place that could lead to even bigger and better advances in the reformation of society and facial hair. It’s no suburbs, but the Hilltop Colony could be the setting of a future they’d only dreamed of. And mother-to-be Maggie will likely be a big part of making that happen.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC