In an episode that had an overwhelming amount of Negan, the biggest mystery from Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead has little to do with the show’s leather jacket-clad maniac.
In “The Big Scary U,” the fifth episode of the show’s eighth season, which takes place shortly after Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) steal the big-ass gun from the Saviors, Rick and Daryl get into a rather — let’s say, explosive — argument, before splitting up to let cooler heads prevail. As Rick walks alone, a helicopter flies overhead, and out of nowhere, to the confusion of Rick as well as the millions watching at home.
What the hell is a helicopter doing in The Walking Dead? Here’s the clip from Sunday night:
As it turns out, it’s not the first time a chopper has been seen in the apocalypse. In fact, two flying helicopters have been seen in the show before. Whether they’re real or not, helicopters seem to signal some kind of good fortune for ol’ Rick Grimes.
Rick first saw a helicopter in Season 1 in Atlanta, just before he met Glenn.
It was through Glenn that Rick would reunite with his family and meet the group he’s led for the past eight seasons.
Then, in the Season 7 episode “New Best Friends,” another helicopter was seen flying (near Rick’s head in the frame, but off into the distance) shortly after Rick succeeds that insane armored zombie fight forced by Jadis (Pollyanna MacIntosh), the leader of the Scavengers. Though this was maybe a goof in production, given the non-descript nature of the chopper, fortune seemed to smile upon Rick in that moment (until the Scavengers betrayed Rick later in Season 8).
There have also been downed helicopters seen in The Walking Dead, such as those seen in the vicinity of the Governor. Those choppers may also have some kind of thematic significance, but it’s the flying ones that command attention because — I mean, it’s the apocalypse.
In any case, there’s more to “The Big Scary U” than helicopters. For most of the episode, it’s all about Negan’s point of view from before, during, and after Rick’s successful assault on the Saviors’ Sanctuary. Unfortunately, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) survived the whole ordeal, no thanks to Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), with whom Negan was stuck with in a trailer surrounded by walkers.
Though Gabriel did try some ballsy moves against Negan, ultimately, Negan manipulates Gabriel to come back with him to the Sanctuary, which briefly descends into chaos due to Negan’s absence. It seems the Saviors’ Achilles heel is Negan — if Rick can take him out, it’s likely the Saviors will collapse inward. But it’s going to take a lot to remove Negan from the equation. Hopefully that helicopter leads Rick to his next big victory.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMC.