Everything We Know About the Back Half of The Walking Dead Season 5 So Far
Viewers were thrown a huge curveball in the midseason finale of The Walking Dead's fifth season, and we've had almost two months to ruminate, speculate, and analyze promotional materials to death. Here is everything we know about the back eight, so obviously, spoiler alert:
There will be a huge shake-up
In the above behind-the-scenes look at the back eight, actors and crew members alike hint at a huge change for the survivors. Showrunner Scott Gimple says, "There's a huge change for the situation of these characters," and Andrew Lincoln says, "It feels like we're moving into a new show, both visually and story-wise."
Norman Reedus might have given the most telling statement about the nature of the shake-up, claiming that while in the past, the group has been moving out of fear, now they're actually moving towards something. Some newfound purpose was also alluded to in the official summary for the midseason premiere, "What Happened and What's Going On": "After all the recent trials the group has faced, a slight detour might prove to be the solution they've been looking for."
All of these teasers, as well as a few hints from last season, seem to indicate that the group will be headed towards the Alexandria Safe Zone. The Alexandria Safe Zone, familiar to anyone who's read the comics, is a walled-off community in Alexandria that has provided the longest-lasting home for the survivors to date. In what might be the most significant hint, in one trailer Michonne encourages the group to move towards a safe haven that is "only 100 miles away," which would make sense geographically.
The back half of the season will be more hopeful
Although there's some disturbing imagery and some tears in these teasers, there's also hugging and inspirational, rousing speeches. Rick, always the idealist, says "We'll be okay, because this is how we survive" and Michonne, of all people, gives an impassioned defense of a search for sanctuary: "What if it's someplace that we can be safe? It's a chance. Instead of just being out here. Instead of just making it."
These teasers are by far the most hopeful we've ever seen from the series, which actually seems to be a really smart move. The first half of this season was dark and brutal even by Walking Dead standards, so it makes sense that the powers-that-be would decide to allow a little bit of sunlight to come in, if only to avoid viewer fatigue.
AMC's official description for the second half of The Walking Dead's fifth season seems to focus on the survivors' attempts to find hope: "After the tragic events of the midseason finale - as well as losing the possibility of a cure in Washington, D.C. - Rick Grimes' band of survivors find themselves on the road, surviving day-to-day and trying to hold on to their shredded humanity and dwindling hope. Stripped of security and without a direction for the future, some of the group near their breaking point, some find themselves hardened and cold and some just try to grasp onto what little they have left. Though they are still breathing, the line between Rick's group and the dead is starting to blur. Could there be anything at this point that brings them back to life?"
Although this summary could easily be interpreted as the survivors searching for hope and failing to find it, co-executive producer Denise Huth seemed to confirm that the back eight will see the survivors rediscover their humanity: "The second half of the season is dark and it's sad, but when you're looking at... these choices and why you choose to live when you probably shouldn't, and yet inevitably it's just that human spirit that keeps you going."
Beth's death will change the group
Needless to say, Beth's untimely passing will have a profound impact on the remaining survivors, particularly Maggie, Rick, and Daryl. Lauren Cohan said regarding her character's reaction: "We're going to see Maggie in a way we have never seen her, and... fighting a dark side that she's always resisted."
The above video shows Maggie and Noah openly weeping for Beth, as well as footage of Beth's surprisingly traditional funeral. "What can be seen is temporary, what cannot be seen is eternal," says Father Gabriel during the service.
This attempt to honor Beth to a possibly impractical degree may lead to a typical Walking Dead "no good deed goes unpunished" moment. According to TV Line, "Rick's attempt to honor Beth [in the midseason premiere] doesn't just go badly, it goes catastrophically badly."
Morgan will return, but maybe not as soon as we thought
After that post-credits scene in the midseason finale, fans rejoiced that Morgan seemed to be on his way to join Rick's merry band of survivors. His return seemed to be teased in the above poster as well, as the map shown in the poster is the one Morgan found in the church at the end of "Coda."
"He has that map and it means something," Gimple told The Hollywood Reporter. "He has this massive breadcrumb. Now, Rick and his group aren't necessarily on their way to D.C. but it's something. Morgan knows Rick Grimes could be alive and could be somewhere nearby and perhaps on that path. It's something. Morgan sat there and he prayed [in the church] and then he laughed at the idea of praying and then he found that map. So perhaps it's divine intervention."
However, Morgan may not catch up to the group for quite a while. First, Gimple told The Daily Beast when asked how quickly Morgan would return: "Take a look at the post-credits sequence after the first episode. Do some investigation, there are some hints about how far behind he might be."
Then, Josh McDermitt (Eugene) confirmed to Huffington Post that Morgan is not yet close by when the season starts up again: "The answer to this – any sort of detail I'm gonna screw it up – just, I'm not confident of the details … as Morgan kind of showed up to the church in the last episode, and he saw the map and everything, the greenery had grown up over some of the vines to show that several months have passed. I don't think that Morgan is around the corner."
With the news of Chad Coleman joining the cast of The Expanse and Tyler James Williams joining the Criminal Minds spin-off, speculation has run rampant that one or both of these characters will be killed off. There are no specific spoilers yet, but Tyler James Williams's Noah does seem to be one of the most expendable characters on the show. (Plus, killing off either of these characters would be entirely consistent with the show's tendency to kill off people of color.)