The season 8 finale of The Walking Dead marked the end of the bloodshed between Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan.) As Carl’s vision seemingly comes to fruition, it looks like better days are ahead for Rick and his crew. However, there also seems to be another big threat around the corner.

Warning: This article may contain spoilers for season 9.

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In “Wrath,” there appears to be a big tease about The Walking Dead‘s next big villain as Rick and his group stand in the middle of an open field marked by a big fence while a herd of walkers can be seen in the distance. Fans who are well versed in the comics have pointed out that this is the show’s way of hinting at the Whisperers — a group who wear the flesh of the dead to blend in with the zombies and who have abducted and beheaded people and mounted their zombie heads on spikes to serve as a barrier between the Whisperer and Alexandrian territory.

While it does look like the show is heading to the Whisperers’ direction, outgoing showrunner Scott M. Gimple explains that the similarities were not deliberate. “I would be a liar if I said those fence posts were an intentional nod,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a location where we even talked about pulling them down. But it’s a real field with a real fence. I would love to say we’re geniuses in that regard, but it was reality that did the foreshadowing there.”

Gimple, who now serves as chief content officer of the entire franchise, isn’t dismissing the theory completely. Believing the Whisperers represent a very different threat to Rick and his group compared to other villains in the past, Gimple acknowledges that “it’s a big story from the comics.”

“They were a very unique style of survivors that felt that the world had told them the way, and that they listened,” Gimple explained. “There was a great deal to do with nature, and even the nature of man as an animal. That sort of hard philosophy they bought so hard into was incredible to see our people come up against.”

Meanwhile, comic book creator Robert Kirkman’s statement may just imply where the show is headed for season 9. “The people who have read the comics know the road map to a certain extent. They can feel some of the excitement we feel, knowing things behind the scenes and knowing how different the show is about to be,” he teased.

Speaking of season 9, which will be taken over by new showrunner Angela King, there have been speculations about the fate of Lauren Cohan, whose character Maggie is bent on seeking vengeance against Negan. The actress has landed a starring role in the ABC pilot Whiskey Cavalier and has yet to renew her contract with the AMC series.

Given the situation surrounding Cohen, Gimble wouldn’t say how the show would handle Maggie’s storyline because discussions are still taking place about renewing her contract.

“I would imagine relatively soon. We’re talking: dotting i’s, crossing t’s, that sort of thing. But no real news on it just yet,” Gimble told THR.

“We’re still talking about certain aspects of it. But we know what we’re doing, given the parameters under which we’re operating. There’s a wide possibility of parameters,” continued Gimble, adding that the show will not be recasting Maggie.¬†

What do you think will happen to Maggie in season 9? Are you looking forward to the Whisperers? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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(Image courtesy of AMC)