In the fifth episode of “The Walking Dead” Season 8, titled “The Big Scary U,” viewers spotted something rare in the zombie apocalypse. A helicopter. In a scene that was seemingly unconnected to the events of the episode, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) looks up as a loud noise sounds overhead. To his shock a helicopter zooms across the sky. The episode continues on without further mention of the event. This week’s sixth episode, “The King, The Widow, and Rick,” also refused to provide information on the aircraft, suggesting it will take some time for a reveal. So where did this helicopter come from and who does it belong to? Take a look at our best theories and then vote in the poll below.
The Saviors – The most obvious culprit is The Saviors. The group has displayed militarized weapons before. And Simon (Steven Ogg) suggested they send a “flier” out to deal with the resistance at Hilltop Colony. Does “flier” refer to a helicopter or some other immense show of power. If The Saviors are hiding this flying machine as some secret weapon, it would both provide them with an escape route from the zombie infested Sanctuary and keep them in the game as a force to be reckoned with.
Rick’s Mind – Throughout his tenure on “The Walking Dead,” Rick has not shown himself to always be of sound mind. He spent an entire season speaking to his dead wife on a disconnected telephone, and this season presented some type of “flash-forward” to Rick’s imagined future. It’s possible that Rick’s sanity is spiraling out of control as the apocalypse rages on, and the helicopter sitting is just the latest symptom. The shot of him looking up at the chopper closely mirrors a similar scene in the pilot episode, and may point to Rick’s continually bleeding memories.
The Commonwealth – When the chopper soared over Rick’s head, comic book fans were quick to blame The Commonwealth. They are a group from the graphic novels who are heavily militarized and sport white armored suits. The only problem is that The Commonwealth was just introduced in recent issues of the comic series. If the show were to introduce this antagonistic group, it would bypass plenty of juicy story material and signal a divergence from the comics. Ever since Scott M. Gimple has been at the helm of “The Walking Dead,” the drama has stuck closely to the comic book story arcs.
A Crossover – We know that one character will crossover between “The Walking Dead” and its sister series “Fear the Walking Dead,” and most fans speculate that Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) will be the lucky actor to make an appearance on the prequel series. But what if this was all to throw viewers off the scent of a larger crossover. “Fear” currently deals with a heavily armed group of survivors in possession of a helicopter. If it is the same one Rick spots, perhaps it is teasing an upcoming merge of the two shows. If Madison (Kim Dickens) and her family jump out of a helicopter and become new allies or enemies of Alexandria, it would be an unprecedented TV moment.
A New Villain – The writers could be going off-script, ignoring the comic book offerings to create a brand new threat for Rick once he finishes his “All Out War.” Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and her Scavengers were original creations for the series, so it wouldn’t be the first group invented for television. Perhaps the writers hope to top Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) by creating a terrifying new villain of their own.