‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 Teases Rick Grimes Finding A Familiar Face; Who Could It Be? [Opinion]

Though the theories leading up to Season 8 of The Walking Dead weren’t quite what they were with last year’s buildup to who Negan killed, a new episode summary has fans putting on their tin hats and hoping to uncover an interesting conspiracy.

As first reported by SpoilerTV.com, Episode 2 of Season 8, titled “The Damned” will see Rick encounter someone he knows all too well.

The plan involving Alexandrians, Kingdommers and Hilltoppers unfolds; as Rick continues to fight, he encounters a familiar face.

Though “a familiar face” could mean anything from running into one of the Alexandrians to bumping heads with Negan, the wording seems a bit precise. When the term “familiar face” is used, it’s usually about encountering someone who you weren’t expecting to see or haven’t seen in a long time. Who would earn that distinction? It’s not likely that Rick meeting Daryl would count as the former seeing a familiar face, at least not in the context that the words were initially used in.

Who is Rick’s “familiar face” and why is that important? If you are not caught up on The Walking Dead TV show and have not read past at least Issue #127 of the comic book, be warned that this article contains spoilers for both as we do our best to speculate.

Morales: Naturally, Morales – a character from Season One whose on-screen fate was never revealed after he and his family left Atlanta for Birmingham – was bound to come up as an option, but we’re shooting it down. Not only would it confuse a fair number of fans who aren’t likely to remember such a minor character from Season 1, but why would Morales suddenly show up now? We’re more likely to get an answer on why Daryl has the name “Mingus” tattooed on his body (it’s actor Norman Reedus’ son, if you didn’t know).

Before continuing, we should note that answer also applies to Tobias from Fear The Walking Dead, who we last saw in that show’s first season.

Heath: When we last saw Heath, he was escaping walkers on his ill-fated scavenging trip with Tara and the only thing he left behind was his glasses and a card. Is he alive? Is he a walker? Though series creator Robert Kirkman did comment that we will see Heath again in The Walking Dead, as reported by ScreenRant, there’s no indication when that will be or if Heath is going to be alive.

“Corey Hawkins…there is an intention to bring him back eventually. He had an opportunity to go do that 24 show, we wanted to be facilitating and allow him to do that… hopefully there is every intention that we get Heath back. It’s in contract land, so… Corey is amazing. Kong: Skull Island, that 24: Legacy show he was on was super cool!”

Because Season 7 was roughly only two weeks long, Heath returning wouldn’t be as unrealistic, if say, he showed up six months later. Is that to say we expect Heath back in Season 8? Not quite, so we’re going to rule a return of not-Dr. Dre out for the time being.

Heath (Corey Hawkins) vanished without a trace in Season 7 of The Walking Dead. Might Rick run into him in Season 8?

Gregory: When we last saw the Hilltop’s official leader in Season 7, Gregory was heading to meet Simon and Negan at The Sanctuary to “talk shop.” If that was indeed going to be the familiar face, where would Rick run into Gregory? If Negan was smart, he’d keep Gregory as close to The Sanctuary as he possibly could, but would Rick be in that vicinity? The Sanctuary is attacked by survivors in the comics, though I really don’t see how or why Rick would encounter Gregory.

In the comics, Gregory does run to Negan, who turns on the cowardly leader when the Hilltop doesn’t join Negan’s forces (there’s more to it, but that would spoil the surprise). Gregory returns to the Hilltop, fights with Maggie in a fashion not unlike what we saw in Season 7, and takes a backseat for most of the war. I’m inclined to think this will likely be true for the TV adaption as well, but it would be interesting to see Rick spot Gregory and give him another speech about why the latter is such a dismal leader. We’ll put this as a maybe.

Eugene: Many are speculating this will be the case, but Eugene is likely to be around Negan as much as potentially possible for the first half of Season 8. Unless Negan captures Rick and there’s a scene between the former cop and chief scientist for the Saviors like there was with Sasha and Eugene in Season 7, I doubt this is happening.

Morgan and Jesus: In the Season 8 trailer, there’s a shot of Morgan Jones and Paul “Jesus” Rovia facing off in the woods, though it’s unknown if they’re actually fighting or simply sparring. If Rick encountered the two during this scene, it’d potentially tip him off to the fact that Morgan is becoming unhinged again (the familiar face would be Morgan in his Season 3 role), so that could work. There’s also the simplicity of the scene that Rick runs into Morgan and Jesus, two familiar faces that represent the Kingdom and Hilltop respectively.

I would be a bit concerned if this were the case, however, because I think that scene is being saved for what would likely be a Kingdom and Hilltop-centric episode. The Walking Dead has always been good about not forcing main characters into scenes they have no place in, so while I do expect Rick to find Morgan going crazy at some point this season, that moment likely isn’t the one from Episode 2.

Jadis: Of the ones we’ve discussed so far, this one makes the most sense. The usage of “familiar face” almost seems too ominous for my liking, potentially setting up a reunion with Jadis, queen of The Scavengers. There’s a theory based on scenes from the Season 8 trailer that Rick winds up being captured by Jadis, likely in part because of her attraction to him. If you’re Jadis, why think about Negan and The Saviors when you can kidnap the man you asked to have sex with and were rebuffed.

Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) has had her issues with Rick in the past, especially when he turned her down in Season 7. Could she be the familiar face he encounters in Season 8?

If it’s not Jadis that Rick runs into, there is still the possibility of it being a member of her gang that he recognizes, but I like the idea of her being his “familiar face.” Episode 3, as reported by Bleeding Cool, also has a listed summary that discusses the idea of “unintended consequences” as a result of the war.

Conflict with the Saviors leads to unintended consequences for the Hilltop, the Kingdom, and Alexandria; morality proves tricky in wartime.”

Could unintended consequences be Rick getting captured by Jadis and The Scavengers? Would the morality be whether or not to attack the Scavengers yet in hopes of rescuing Rick? As of right now, this is our guess and what makes the most sense. But, perhaps the better question is if Rick be able to decipher Jadis’ weird way of speaking.

Himself: For as absurd a theory as this may sound at initial face value, is it possible that the familiar face Rick runs into is actually himself as an old man? In other words, could the “Old Man Rick” scene from the Season 8 trailer involve Alexandria’s, whether in a hallucination or a dream, seeing himself when the war ends?

When we first saw a gray-haired, bearded Rick in a hospital during the Season 8 trailer, the general consensus seemed to either be that Rick was telling the story of All-Out War as an old man or this was well after the war ended, setting the stage for the post-timeskip that is Issue 127 and beyond. Some even thought Andrew Lincoln was going to be retiring his role as Rick Grimes after eight years. Though each of those theories make sense, even the final one, they’re also a bit too obvious and risky. Why would AMC want to spoil at least somewhat of the arc’s ending?

Then, there’s also the episode’s title of “The Damned.” In Christian belief, “damned” refers to those who have been “condemned by God to suffer eternal punishment in Hell.” That sounds a lot like the apocalypse and the world that Rick and friends are currently living in, doesn’t it?

If this is indeed the case, Rick may dream or hallucinate himself waking up as an old man after the war. At first, it feels like waking from his pre-apocalypse coma (hence the similarities in the way the scene is shot and the room’s design) before seeing how much things have changed. Alexandria has won the war, leaving The Saviors destroyed and creating peace in the area. But, something will go wrong – someone close to him will wind up dying from one of the Saviors – and Rick realizes that there is no room for optimism or peace in this world if the survivors continue to live a life of killing.

Remember, Rick spares Negan in the comics because he wants to show the other survivors that there is a way to live without killing each other; there’s also the added factor of forcing Negan to watch everyone live their lives in harmony while he wastes his remaining days in a prison cell. The familiar face Rick sees is the Rick Grimes of old, the one who would rather lock someone away than kill him, and that’s what would inspire Alexandria’s leader to imprison Negan come the war’s end.

Or, the familiar face will wind up being Morales. It probably will be Morales.

Season 8 of The Walking Dead will premiere on October 22 on AMC, with “The Damned” airing the following week. Both episodes are expected to be followed by Talking Dead, hosted by Chris Hardwick.

[Featured Image by Gene Page/AMC]