That final “Walking Dead” callback gets an A for effort, but it’s a seemingly innocuous moment with a hidden, deeper meaning earlier in the episode that could have you reaching for the Kleenex.
First, the A callback. On Sunday’s episode of the AMC show, “The King, The Widow, and Rick,” Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) shows up at the Heapsters’ headquarters to try to make another deal: Either the junkyard peeps help Rick take down the Saviors or they get destroyed. The Heapsters’ leader, Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), thinks the plan stinks worse than all the garbage in the zombie apocalypse, so she puts Rick in a holding cell (naked, for some reason).
In the episode’s closing moments, she draws the letter A on the cell door.
The letter has shown up a few different times on “The Walking Dead,” but this A seems to be a direct callback to when Rick and his group were forced inside a train car and held captive by the cannibals at Terminus. That train car also featured an A.
Does this mean the Heapsters are cannibals? Could A possibly stand for appetizer?
We’re betting this A is just a callback, and cannibalism has nothing to do with it. Perhaps it implies some connection to Terminus, but the idea that all cannibals are following the same steps to hold Rick Grimes hostage ― keeping him in a hot holding cell with an A on it until he’s a crispy golden brown ― seems way too specific. No one’s adding that recipe to their Pinterest boards.
In the end, it probably doesn’t matter. Rick made it out of that first situation, so we have confidence he’ll be OK here, too.
The callback we truly care about came midway through the episode when Carol (Melissa McBride) catches a young resident of the Kingdom trying to take on zombies in the woods.
The young kid wants to help Carol fight, but she scolds him, saying, “Do you know what happens to kids when they go wandering around in the woods? They never get seen again, and if they do, they’re monsters.”
The line seems like a boilerplate speech you’d give to a kid to persuade him to stay out of a forest full of zombies. (Say no more. You’ve convinced me.) But the words have added significance coming from Carol.
Remember: Carol’s daughter, Sophia (played by Madison Lintz), was lost in the woods back in Season 2.
When’s she’s finally found in a barn on Hershel’s farm, it’s too late. She’s a zombie, or, as Carol might put it, a “monster.”
But it’s not just the words Carol utters ― it’s to whom she tells them.
Henry, the little Kingdomer who’s out in the woods, is played by Macsen Lintz. Macsen is Madison Lintz’s little brother in real life. So Carol is basically telling Sophia’s little brother not to wander around in the woods.
Add this to your running list of the great callbacks “The Walking Dead” is bringing us in Season 8. Knowing the context, Carol referencing children in the woods is just heartbreaking. It’s a line some fans caught as well.
We jumped on calls with Madison and Macsen Monday to talk about the big callback moment.
“I was just really touched that they’re still tying back to my character who was all the way back in Season 2,” Madison said. “I thought it was really, really cool that Macsen, my brother, got to be in that scene and be a part of it. I think it’s so weird, and I love hearing about everything he’s doing on set. I’m super proud of him.”
Madison, who was on the first and second seasons of the series, explained how Macsen’s connections to her character go even deeper.
“He had a little fanboy moment when he booked the series, and I was like, ‘Whoa,’ because first of all, he booked the series at the same age when I booked the series, so I felt like it was [an] out-of-body experience ... so that’s weird, and he’s having the same experience I have,” she said. “He’s shooting in the summer, he’s having the time of his life, [and] he’s working with Melissa McBride.”
The experience is apparently surreal for McBride, too.
Madison and Macsen’s mother, Kelly, told us McBride came up to her after Macsen was cast as Henry.
“[McBride] was like, ‘Kelly, how am I going to look at him and not think about Madison?’ I actually said, ‘Well, did they say anything to you about that? I don’t think they did this on purpose,’ and she said, ‘No, but I’m gonna run with it.’”
On “Talking Dead,” the “Walking Dead” after-show, the actress also spoke on the pair’s likeness.
“I can’t do a scene with him and not see her,” said McBride.
Macsen was more chill about the callback to Sophia.
“I thought it was pretty cool. I mean, it’s cool that Maddie was shooting on the show, and now I get to be. I don’t know. It’s just ironic,” the 12-year-old said.
Despite the similarities between the characters, he said that fans don’t have to worry about Henry like they had worried about Sophia.
Though he thinks his character is “full of himself a little bit,” he said, “Henry can hold his own.”
We hope so, dude. Kids don’t have a great history on the show when they start following Carol.