8:30am PT by Josh Wigler
'Walking Dead' Midseason Finale: 7 Guesses at the Mysterious Stranger's Identity
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Walking Dead midseason finale, as well as from the Walking Dead comic books.]
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and friends are well accustomed to meeting strange individuals in the zombie apocalypse, but the latest stranger to arrive in the Walking Dead universe is especially mystifying, even for comic book fans.
In the midseason finale, "Hearts Still Beating," Rick and Aaron (Ross Marquand) encounter a boat out in the middle of a zombie-infested lake, filled with guns and assorted supplies. As they load up the equipment, a mysterious person watches from a distance, their identity unrevealed. That same figure appears in a post-credits scene, spying on Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and the gates of Alexandria. It's a scene that's reminiscent to the introduction of Jesus (Tom Payne) in the comics, though clearly it's not the same person here on the show. So, who is it?
"It's a big part of what we're dealing with when we come back in the next half of season," comic book creator and show executive producer Robert Kirkman said of the character during an appearance on Talking Dead. "We'll be revealing that soon."
Of course, "soon" is a relative term, with Walking Dead now off the air until Feb. 12. But that just means it's time to start speculating. Here are our best guesses at the mysterious party's identity.
1. The Boat Owner
It's the easiest and most straightforward answer: the stranger is the same person as the guy who owns the boat Rick and Aaron raided, and has now taken a keen interest in the Alexandria survivors. Doesn't quite explain why he didn't make good on the promise of his sign (aka if he's alive, why didn't he shoot Rick and Aaron on sight?), but perhaps he was simply caught unaware.
2. Sir Richard
Actor Karl Makinen's weary soldier pitched Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James) on going to war with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), expressing interest in bolstering forces to make the fight winnable. We also see that Richard has his own secret truck loaded up with weapons. Is it possible the boat is another one of his safe houses, and he's fortunate enough to run into Rick and Aaron at the right time?
3. King Ezekiel
The founder of the Kingdom is conspicuously absent in the midseason finale. (Really, Khary Payton has been MIA all season long, save for his introductory episode.) Is that because he's out on an assignment of his own, searching for allies in a war against the Saviors? The boots look like they would fit in comfortably with Ezekiel's wardrobe, for what it's worth.
Negan's iron-marked lieutenant has had an ax to grind with the Alexandrians all season long. It wouldn't be out of character if he was keeping a close eye on Rick and his companions. If the show mirrors the character's comic book arc, then perhaps this is an early sign of Dwight (Austin Amelio) expressing an interest in working with Rick's group to take the Saviors down once and for all.
Another Savior who was missing from the episode: Simon (Steven Ogg), the artist occasionally known as Trevor from Grand Theft Auto V. The mysterious stranger's boots looked like they belong on Simon, and the man has a knack for showing up in improbable places. (See: all those barricades he built in the season six finale.) If this stranger is a sinister and familiar fellow, then Simon's not a bad bet.
6. Someone From Oceanside
Tara (Alanna Masterson) promised the women of Oceanside to never reveal their whereabouts. But what if her pitch on teaming together to take on the Saviors worked? What if it lured some of these battle-hardened survivors out of Oceanside, ready to finally wreak vengeance against Negan?
7. A Whisper in the Wind
In the comics, Rick and company eventually battle the Whisperers, a group of survivors who wear walker flesh in order to blend in with the dead. The mystery figure could be someone connected to the Whisperers — perhaps the leader Alpha, or her faithful lieutenant Beta. The comics don't dive into Whisperer territory until a fair stretch past the show's current place in the story, but it wouldn't be the first time the AMC series has arrived at points from the source material sooner than expected.
Keep checking THR.com/WalkingDead for interviews, news and more stemming from the midseason finale.