WARNING: This article contains spoilers from the The Walking Dead season nine, episode one.
Maggie Greene (played by Lauren Cohan) was the main focus of The Walking Dead season nine premiere as she was shown taking on the role as leader of the Hilltop.
As ruler, Maggie exercised her right to execute Gregory (Xander Berkeley) after he persuaded grieving father Earl (John Finn) to murder her and then failed to finish off the job himself.
With Maggie’s guidance, the Hilltop will prosper and rout out cowardly members like Gregory, but their rise to the top could harm another group’s existence.
Showrunner Angela King suggested Maggie will lead her followers in a different direction to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincon), who she once depended on.
Teasing upcoming episodes, Angela told Entertainment Weekly Maggie will start “to diverge in philosophy from Rick and Michonne, and Alexandria”.
She added: “That’s a split that really started with the disagreement over Negan’s fate at the end of last season.
“Even though everybody is working together and still loves each other, there are some pretty deep differences in what they believe, and that’s a big part of the story going forward.”
Being in charge of the Hilltop will not come without it struggles for Maggie, as she will have to disagree with previous leader and friend Rick.
Viewers saw her take control and assert her authority when she turned to Rick and said sternly: “That stops now”.
Angela said there will come a time when Maggie will have to explicitly say to Rick she does not share the same views as him.
“That’s not an easy conversation for anybody to have with somebody that they love,” Angela explained.
“So part of her growth as leader is just finding the strength to not just go along with Rick, who was the leader of their group for so long, but she’s got to strike out on her own.”
Episode one of The Walking Dead, titled ‘A New Beginning’ was a pivotal moment for Maggie, not least because of the showdown with Gregory.
Fans in the US were thrilled when Maggie ended Gregory’s life, with many taking to Twitter to celebrate his demise.
One fan said: “The Walking Dead season nine episode one was satisfying enough for a season premiere! Many things happened within the hour. I’m glad Gregory is finally dead after several times of his judgment being postponed.”
“There was just a few too many people living on The Walking Dead. Gregory was a good start,” another fan quipped.
A third wrote: “The only spoiler I’ve loved seeing with The Walking Dead so far is Gregory dying.”
Someone else said: “The first episode of The Walking Dead is very enjoyable, especially the ending. Gregory got what he deserved after two or three seasons, especially after now trying to kill Maggie.”
The Walking Dead season nine continues on AMC next Sunday.