The mid-season premiere of Season 7 of AMC’s The Walking Dead ended with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) smiling even though his group had, effectively, been taken hostage by a much larger new group of survivors. So, why was Rick smiling? Already, fans have come up with some ideas, while the show’s creators have some suggestions to offer as well.
SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses Episodes 9 and 10 of AMC’s The Walking Dead Season 7. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers.
Episode 9 (entitled “Rock in the Road”) of The Walking Dead‘s mid-season premiere saw Rick’s group searching out Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), who had left in the middle of the night with a stockpile of food. While it was suspected Father Gabriel had fled Alexandria, Rick noted Gabriel’s bible had been left behind. A word inside a notebook, “boat,” also gave a clue as to where they could start searching for Father Gabriel.
A small group went searching for Father Gabriel at the spot where Rick and Aaron (Ross Marquand) had previously scavenged for the Saviors in an earlier Season 7 episode of The Walking Dead. While there, the group were surrounded by a mysterious new group of post-apocalyptic survivors. Considering the hell Rick’s group had been through in the first half of Season 7 of The Walking Dead with the introduction of Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) group, it surprised viewers that Rick was smiling at the end of the episode.
So, what was that about?
Some fans immediately associated this new group with Father Gabriel. After all, if the word, “boat,” was a clue, Rick must have come to the right place. There were even some viewers that suggested Rick was smiling because he could see Father Gabriel in the crowd. This is certainly a possibility.
As the Independent pointed out, Father Gabriel didn’t abscond from Alexandria alone. At the start of Episode 9 of The Walking Dead, when Gabriel is fleeing Alexandria in a car, some viewers noticed a figure sitting up in the passenger seat as Gabriel left, indicating he could have had someone else involved with whatever is his plan. Could this person be someone from this new group that surrounded Rick at the end of the episode? Only by tuning into future episodes of The Walking Dead will reveal the answer.
Others suggested this group could have been the Oceanside group Tara (Alanna Masterson) discovered in Episode 6 of The Walking Dead Season 7. Oceanside was a group of female-only survivors. The group seen circling Rick certainly did appear to consist of only females initially. However, on closer inspection, there were also males among their numbers, indicating a new group entirely.
Another suggestion by fans is that Rick was smiling at the end of Episode 9 because he saw the size of the new group and knew that if he could get them on his side, he finally had the numbers required to take out Negan’s group. Once again, this is a distinct possibility and one that the episode’s director, Greg Nicotero, confirmed when interviewed by ComicBook.
“He’s smiling because there’s his army. However you cut it, he’s gonna make sure that those people are on his side.”
The Walking Dead‘s showrunner, Scott Gimple, revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that the reason for Rick’s smile would be revealed in Episode 10. Something fans will be pleased to know considering The Walking Dead regularly ends on a cliffhanger and then resumes at another place in the post-apocalyptic landscape, leaving viewers hanging.
“It’s an interesting story and we don’t leave the audience on pins and needles about it and we go right into what that smile means in the next episode. There’s tough stuff in the next episode but there’s straight up fun and attempts are made at humor from the situation that these characters get in. A whole new world is discovered. It’s a cool turn of the story.”
What do you think will happen in Episode 10 of The Walking Dead Season 7? Let us know your thoughts and theories by commenting below!
Episode 10, (entitled “New Best Friends”) of Season 7 of AMC’s The Walking Dead returns on Sunday, February 19 at 9 PM ET. The official synopsis for Episode 10 is below.
“A mysterious community is discovered.”
[Featured Image by Gene Page/AMC]