The Walking Dead Season 7 is now back on our screens. The mid-season finale which aired in December left us asking ourselves a number of questions we were dying to know the answers to. Did Episode 9 resolve our outstanding queries? We’ve updated the article below to see what – if anything – has been revealed. Scroll down to the numbered questions to see the new content.
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After so much hopelessness and unrelenting bleakness throughout the vast majority of the first seven episodes of “The Walking Dead” Season 7, Episode 8 – called ‘Hearts Still Beating’ – delivered something to finally raise the spirits. The season up to this point has followed a similar pattern to Season 4, in which the activities of each part of our fractured group are tracked in turn, episode by episode. This meant that we sometimes had to wait three or four episodes to find out what was going on with a particular splinter group.
Having torn them apart again for Season 7, sometimes weeks have gone by without seeing hide nor hair of some of our most loved characters. Maggie and Sasha have squirrelled themselves away up at the Hilltop while Maggie recovers from pregnancy-related complications, a very battered and beleaguered Carol has found herself at The Kingdom with Morgan, and Daryl has been taken prisoner by Negan, locked away at The Sanctuary.
Meanwhile, a broken Rick has been busy trying to scavenge for Negan at Alexandria, a hot-headed Carl has taken off to The Sanctuary bent on revenge and Michonne has gone off alone as she tries to figure out her next move: rolling over and taking it isn’t an option. In the most stand-alone episode of the season, Tara and Heath’s story is expanded and a new community introduced.
In Episode 8, we finally get an instalment that brings us up to date with all the main characters at once. But, like any drama that wants to tantalise, tease, and keep people watching, it leaves us with a number of questions we’re going to have to wait until February to be answered, when the second half of Season 7 screens. Here’s our round-up of the most burning questions we’re asking…
1. Will Carol and Morgan join the fight?
With all factions either collectively or individually galvanizing to prepare for attack, it seems unlikely that neither character will get involved. When Ezekiel’s right-hand man, Richard, asks both to help him convince Ezekiel to make a stand against Negan, they refuse – each for different reasons. Carol is adamant she wants everybody to leave her alone, and Morgan, of course, is a sworn pacifist.
However, we’ve seen Morgan bend his own rules since hooking up with Carol, and Carol has on more than one occasion come to the rescue after going it alone. It’s difficult to believe she’d let her friends take on the bad guy and not get involved. Creator Robert Kirkman agrees: “As much as they protest, when the fight starts they’re probably gonna be right in there,” he said as a guest on The Talking Dead” right after the show aired. He added: “Am I revealing too much?”
We still don’t know for sure, although it looks like Morgan is gearing up to wade in. He reunites with Rick and co. when Jesus brings them to The Kingdom to meet with Ezekiel in an effort to get them onside. Morgan admits to Rick that he has had to break his vow not to kill – he saved Carol from death at the hands of the Saviors. He’s learned that sometimes killing is necessary.
However, he’s hoping there’s an alternative way to all-out attack and slaughter, suggesting at Rick’s audience with Ezekiel that perhaps they plan to capture Negan and hold him instead. Ezekiel isn’t keen to join the fight – but Rick feels he can be persuaded easily by Morgan, a man whom Ezekiel seems to trust and respect.
As for Carol? Morgan lied to Rick about her whereabouts, respecting Carol’s wishes to be left alone. Without Rick and the gang knowing she’s on the doorstep, they can’t at this point attempt to get her on board. But with Carol’s track record? There’s no way she’s not getting involved, one way or another.
2. Has Daryl lost his soft side?
Daryl has frequently been the voice of reason and soul of compassion in morally questionable circumstances – look at how (comparatively) decent he was when he first encountered Dwight and wife Sherry, and her sister Tina. But he’s been through a lot at the hands of Negan including torture and humiliation. On top of that, he feels tremendously guilty about Glenn’s death.
Consequently, his brutal slaying of Negan cohort Fat Joey on his escape from prison in this episode suggests we’re about to see an even more badass Daryl; one that will stop at nothing to assure the survival of his group. The attack mirrors Negan’s battering of Abraham and Glenn in that iconic hard-to-watch season opener. Has he absorbed a bit of Negan’s psychopathy after spending time in his company? Or has he simply realized he needs to fight fire with fire? His tearful reunion with Rick, of course, shows he’s still at least a bit squidgy inside…
It looks like Daryl has escaped the Sanctuary with his emotions intact. When Rick suggests Daryl take up Ezekiel’s offer of asylum at the Kingdom, he initially resists. He’s only just reunited with his buddies, why would he want to break away from them again so soon?
But he knows it’s the right thing to do to keep himself safe, and everyone else. With Negan’s men still currently honouring their agreement not to set foot inside the Kingdom, it’s a safe haven for Daryl – albeit probably a temporary one. That doesn’t stop his lip from quivering and eyes from almost tearing up at the thought of separating from his apocalypse family, though.
3. What will happen to Eugene?
Having been identified as the one that made a bullet from scratch, Eugene is now a valuable commodity for Negan so it’s unlikely his life is under threat. A quivering mess in the background during the Spencer death scene, he garnered some surprising courage from somewhere as he stepped forward to acknowledge his role as chief ammo-maker. Perhaps the death of Olivia was one kill too far for Eugene but despite his resistance when faced with a bullying Rosita coercing him into cracking out that bullet, he stood up like a man and took the heat. Will he now rely on others to rescue him, or will he have an instrumental role to play himself in any forthcoming take-down? We’re looking forward to seeing this character’s evolution.
We’re none the wiser. Episode 9 showed us nothing of what may have happened to Eugene. Negan is back at the Sanctuary – we hear him over the radio Jesus stole, even if we don’t see him – so presumably Eugene has been taken there. Negan’s preoccupations in this episode are tracking down Daryl – he dispatches Simon to hunt him out at Alexandria – and acknowledging Fat Joey’s death.
4. Who is the dude at the end?
During the boat scene, we saw Rick and Aaron watched from afar by an unidentified person whose footwear seemed significant. The same boots cropped up at the end in a post-credit sequence, where we saw the mysterious character spying on Father Gabriel at Alexandria through a pair of binoculars. Friend or foe? It remains to be seen but there is internet chatter about the possibility of it being one of The Whisperers – another group from the comics yet to be introduced on screen.
Alternatively, it could be Cyndie from the Oceanside community encountered by Tara, checking out Tara’s people to see if they can be trusted – or perhaps even Carol who has employed similar tactics before. Could it be Dwight, even? He’s displaying signs that treachery could be on the cards some time soon and with Negan having been out-of-office for a prolonged period while he waits at Alexandria for Rick, perhaps it’s given Dwight the opportunity to scope out his options.
There’s also the significance of the note to call into question, which Rick and Aaron found when nabbing their haul of goods and which enigmatically read: “Congrats on winning, but you still lose.” As nothing’s happened yet, some kind of retribution seems set to come – and since the contents of that boat-scene haul are now in the possession of the Saviors, does the threat transfer to them?
Episode 9 heavily suggests that these boots belong to a member of the community that surprises and surrounds Rick’s group at the end. This new group looks likely to be The Whisperers, a faction that’s been introduced in the comic books but which hasn’t featured in the TV show up to now. It hasn’t been spelled out, of course, that it’s this group – there’s a possibility still that it could be the return of the Oceansiders (with added menfolk) or another group.
It also looks like whoever this is could be the reason Father Gabriel has fled by car in the middle of the night with the contents of the larder, weapons and a full tank of fuel.
5. How do the Oceansiders fit in?
We’ve seen this community of women once so far (mysterious voyeuristic stalker aside, which may or may not be an Oceansider) – and at length, with a whole episode devoted to them and the introduction of their story. Although Tara has so far kept quiet about her meeting with the community, as they requested of her (they’re trying to avoid detection having successfully fled from Negan), perhaps her arrival has piqued their interest and opened them up to the idea of joining forces to take on Negan. Cyndie certainly forged a bond with Tara and is very curious to see what’s beyond the limiting confines of their secret camp. They’d certainly bolster an attack – they’ve got weapons and fight!
We haven’t officially heard any more of the Oceansiders, aside from the slim possibility that the boots belong to one of their number, or that they’re the group behind the ambush on Rick’s party. It’s likely they’ll feature again at some point in the second half of Season 7 so watch this space.
6. What happened between Negan and Ezekiel in the woods?
When Richard asks Carol and Morgan for help persuading Ezekiel to attack Negan, he tells them: “A few months back, Ezekiel and a few guards met a group of them in the woods. The Saviors recognized Ezekiel’s capabilities. And Ezekiel didn’t want to fight. So they cut a deal. In exchange for food and supplies, no one would get hurt and they’d never set foot inside The Kingdom. Very few of us even know…”
So what exactly happened that demonstrated Ezekiel’s ‘capabilities’ to the Saviours? And what, indeed, are his ‘capabilities’? Carol saw through his act straight away, and Negan’s no idiot so presumably he did too. Is Richard referring to his leader’s ability to keep a big community under control? Or did something more sinister go down?
We know why Negan is particularly savage when it comes to Rick’s gang. Rick has always been a fearsome leader and Negan has had to resort to spectacularly brutal methods to really wham his points home: he needed Rick broken, and untempered ferocity has been the only way he could do it. But there’s a suggestion that he measures his approach depending on the resistance he meets.
With Gregory’s Hilltop colony, Negan himself rarely has to go it seems since leader Gregory has proved himself pretty accommodating even if Negan’s nasty little deputy Simon has meted out some fairly cruel treatment.
It seems highly irregular, therefore, that Negan and his team would agree to not setting foot inside The Kingdom, however obliging Ezekiel may have proved himself to be. Plus, although Richard acknowledges that the current situation is a precarious one, it seems out of character that Negan would be so hands-off having seen the levels he’ll stoop to.
Is there something they’re not telling us about what’s gone on between these two communities? Does it have something to do with the tiger? Do the Saviors even know about the tiger? After a tantalizing glimpse of Shiva this season, we’re also wondering how she will feature in the second half of the season.
Firstly, Episode 9 gives us a welcome glimpse of Shiva – through the eyes of Rick, Daryl, Michonne and the team, who are both bewildered and alarmed at seeing Ezekiel handle a real, live tiger. Shiva made only a fleeting appearance, however.
When it comes to the unusual relationship between The Kingdom and The Saviors, it seems as though it’s just a matter of time before Negan starts demanding more from Ezekiel. There are more hints in this latest episode that this is likely to happen sooner rather than later, with The Saviors taking issue with the fact that the most recent haul looks lighter than usual.
We’re thinking that nothing sinister went down in those woods after all, and that Ezekiel doesn’t have anything over Negan – although it seems likely that Negan doesn’t know about Shiva. We suspect we’ll start to see The Saviors further step up the aggressive tactics with The Kingdom, and this will spur Ezekiel on to join Rick in the fight, particularly since Richard is already won over.
7. Why does Negan wear a bandage on his left arm?
The show’s makers have said it’s not significant but we beg to differ. It’s normally hidden beneath his leather jacket but it’s definitely an indicator that he’s perhaps not as invincible as he appears, even if he was fortuitously saved from a nasty bullet hole in his chest by Lucille in this episode. Maybe it’s a strain from so much bat swinging, or maybe it’s something more ominous. It’s fair to say, though, that somebody on the production team has seen fit to make it a prominent feature…
We didn’t see Negan in this episode so we’re no closer to learning what’s wrong with his arm.
You could always refer to the comic books for some more insight into the potential answers to these questions and more – but we all know that the show’s creators don’t always stick to the comic’s narrative, don’t we?