The Walking Dead kicked off season nine with a death. No, it wasn't Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes, nor was it a particularly popular character who bit the dust, but it was a significant departure in terms of what it meant for another character.
In the season nine premiere, "A New Beginning," Maggie (Lauren Cohan) ordered Gregory (Xander Berkeley) hanged for his involvement in the attempt on her life at the Hilltop. The situation played out very similarly as it did in the comic books by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard.
"With the Gregory execution, we've been sort of building to that for a long time. I think from seasons ago, there was always the intention that we would play that iconic moment from the comics. But of course, we remixed it, in that the murder attempt doesn't happen quite the same way," showrunner Angela Kang told EW. "Some of the series of events are a little bit different. But we wanted to show that Maggie gave Gregory a lot of chances, and he did weaselly things each time. He seems a little incapable of making any change stick."
Maggie's execution order will have ramifications throughout the season, Kang said, and not just with her relationships to other characters like Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira). The executive producer said season nine "is a season where Maggie is really finding her own voice as a leader, and starting to define the ways in which Hilltop is different from Alexandria and the other communities."
"And they're coming up with their own set of rules, and their own set of values that they're gonna stick by. But it means that it brings her into some conflict with her very dear friends and other communities. Maybe not necessarily in terms of like, was the decision to put Gregory to death, right or wrong? They may not necessary disagree with that, but they may have disagreements about the way that she went about it," Kang teased.