Josh McDermitt, The Walking Dead | Photo Credits: Jace Downs/AMC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for The Walking Dead comic and may contain spoilers about the show.]

The Walking Dead is currently in the middle of the Whisperer War storyline, but it’s already setting up what comes after — and if the show stays true to the source material of the comics, what comes after may be the final story the show ever tells.

During “Bonds,” the sixth episode of Season 10, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) made contact with an unknown woman via Hilltop’s radio, voiced by She’s Gotta Have It‘s Margot Bingham. Viewers had heard her once before, in the final seconds of Season 9, but not with the crystal clear clarity made possible by the Soviet satellite technology Eugene had installed in the radio to boost the signal. They started to establish trust by talking about their lives before the zombie apocalypse. Over the course of their conversation, they learned that they shared a connection to Strasburg, a town in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The woman was hesitant to share her name or any details of her current location, but she agreed to keep correspondence with Eugene — who told her his name — on the condition that he not tell anyone else about her.

Comics readers know — and showrunner Angela Kang all but confirmed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly — that eventually this woman will be revealed to be Stephanie, who lives in the Commonwealth, a large, sophisticated community in the Midwest. A delegation travels from Alexandria to the Commonwealth, and Eugene and Stephanie start a romantic relationship, the foundation for which started to be laid in this episode.

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The thing about the Commonwealth is that it’s where the Walking Dead story ends. Robert Kirkman’s comic abruptly ended this summer when Rick Grimes died at the Commonwealth. AMC CEO Josh Sapan has said that the franchise has “decades and decades of life left,” but so far the flagship show has stayed broadly true to the comic series, remixing details of storylines but keeping the larger arcs intact. It would seem out of character for the show to keep going after it runs out of source material. And at the pace that it’s going, that will probably happen in a season or two. (The show has already been renewed for Season 11.)

Of course, it’s possible that AMC will want to keep the gravy train running and continue the show past the source material’s end. Whether that should happen is a different conversation, with strong points for and against. But for now, it’s clear that we’re nearing the end of the current incarnation of The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.

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Josh McDermitt, The Walking Dead

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