|The Walking Dead episode|
|Directed by||Dan Liu|
|Written by||Corey Reed|
|Original air date||October 21, 2018|
|Running time||45 minutes|
"Warning Signs" is the third episode of the ninth season of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead, which aired on AMC on October 21, 2018. It was written by Corey Reed and directed by Dan Liu.
Construction on the bridge continues. As she promised to Michonne, Maggie brings a wagon load of supplies from the Hilltop to the Sanctuary when she is stopped by a group of Saviors who are looking for their missing member, Justin. Some of the Saviors start calling Maggie "the Widow", the name Negan had used demeaningly, but Arat and Laura, two of the lead Saviors, quickly put a stop to it. As they discuss this, the re-animated body of Justin appears from the woods. After they put it down, it is clear that Justin had died by human hands before reanimating.
As word of Justin's murder spreads, tempers start to flare at the construction camp between the Saviors and the other groups. Rick arrives in time to stop any immediate violence and promises the Saviors they will investigate. Rick starts talking to his own people to see if they saw anything. Fr. Gabriel, who was to be on watch with Anne but had secretly stepped away, reports seeing nothing. Daryl is somewhat affronted when Rick suggests he might have killed Justin. Gabriel speaks to Anne later, but she affirms she saw nothing, though in reality she had seen a helicopter pass over. Anne expresses concern that she feels she is distrusted by the Saviors, having been called "the Garbage Lady".
Rick decides to pair off several teams to look for clues in the area for Justin's killer. One team includes Maggie and Cyndie, who find walkers being drawn towards a house where a piece of sheet metal hangs off its roof, making noise. As they approach the house to clear it out and stop the noise, Cyndie explains this is where some of her Oceanside members used to live before Simon and the Saviors came and killed all their men. Maggie and Cyndie work to clear the house but get into a bit of trouble just before Rick and other pairs arrive, dispatching the walkers. They find one team, Arat and Beatrice, that should have been closer to help not present, and out of radio contact. They go looking for the two, and eventually find Beatrice knocked unconscious, while Arat's things have been left on the ground nearby.
Regrouping at camp, Rick and his most trusted allies decide to break off and search again, but without any Savior help, in case they are at fault. Rick and Carol go off as one group, and they run into some of the Saviors led by Jed. Jed holds Carol under a knife, demanding Rick drop his weapon so they can safely return to Sanctuary, but Carol manages to overpower Jed and stab him in the shoulder. Daryl and Maggie find a few walker bodies, one with a harpoon through it, and follow them back to a recover center building where several Oceanside members, including Cyndie and Beatrice, are holding Arat. Cyndie reveals they have been the ones behind some of the Savior deaths, getting back at those that had murdered their husbands, sons, and brothers, justified by Maggie's decision to hang Gregory. Arat was responsible for Cyndie's brother's death, and Cyndie remembers what Arat had said when they executed their men: "No exceptions". After hearing this, Maggie and Daryl turn away, while Cyndie executes Arat.
Anne returns to the Scavengers' junk yard. She locates a hidden cache and recovers a radio which she makes a call requesting a pickup by helicopter. The male voice on the other end asks if she has an "A" or a "B", but she has neither. The man tells her to be ready the next day but only if she has an "A". As the call ends, Anne sees that Gabriel had followed her there and overheard the call. Gabriel deduces that Anne had previously traded people to this unknown agent for supplies, and had planned to do that with both Rick and him earlier. Anne suggests that if he helps her, he could also possibly join them. Gabriel refuses and plans to tell Rick, but Anne stops him. She tells him she once thought of him as a "B" but he might be the "A" she needs.
The next day, the bulk of the Saviors leave the construction camp to return to Sanctuary. Maggie and Daryl walk along a different path; Maggie tells Daryl they tried Rick's way, and it failed to work, so now they need to take another direction, and it is time to meet Negan.
Development and production
The cabin which Maggie and Cyndie clear out of walkers was arranged to be a homage to George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. The setting around the cabin includes a burnt-out gas pump and a pickup truck, the latter with the charred remains of a passenger, an Easter egg to events from the film.
Anne's "A" and "B" were elements that the production team had laid in before in earlier episodes in Season 8, where Rick, having being taken prisoner by Anne (Jadis at the time), kept him locked up in a storage container labeled "A".
This episode marks the departure of the recurring characters Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow) and Justin (Zach McGowan), due to their characters being killed by Beatrice (Briana Venskus). Elizabeth Ludlow first appeared in the seventh season episode "The Cell".
"Warning Signs" received critical acclaim from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the episode has an approval rating of 100% with an average score of 8.43 out of 10 based on 17 reviews. The critical consensus reads: '"Warning Signs" balances skillfully built suspense with rare moments of respite to create one of the best installments of The Walking Dead in years.'
"Warning Signs" received a total viewership of 5.04 million with a 1.9 rating in adults aged 18-49. It was the highest-rated cable program of the night, and the episode marked a slight increase in viewership from the previous week, which had 4.95 million viewers.
- Bonomolo, Cameron (October 22, 2018). "‘The Walking Dead’ 903 Included a ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Easter Egg". https://comicbook.com/thewalkingdead/2018/10/22/the-walking-dead-903-george-a-romero-night-of-the-living-dead-easter-egg/. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
- Ross, Dalton (October 28, 2018). "The Walking Dead showrunner on that huge Rick cliffhanger". Entertainment Weekly. https://ew.com/tv/2018/10/28/walking-dead-obliged-904-showrunner-rick-cliffhanger/. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
- "Warning Signs". https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/the_walking_dead/s09/e03. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
- Welch, Alex (October 23, 2018). "Sunday cable ratings: 'Shameless' holds steady, 'Walking Dead' slips again". TV by the Numbers. https://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/daily-ratings/sunday-cable-ratings-oct-21-2018/. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
- Welch, Alex (October 16, 2018). "Sunday cable ratings: 'Doctor Who' dips, 'The Walking Dead' hits series low". TV by the Numbers. https://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/daily-ratings/sunday-cable-ratings-oct-14-2018/. Retrieved October 16, 2018.