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'The Walking Dead' May Have Subtly Set Up A Dark Zombie Storyline

No (zombie) guts. No glory.

Time for “Walking Dead” fans to get their “s**ttin’” pants back on, because it looks like the Saviors are about to unleash a new weapon against Rick (played by Andrew Lincoln) and his group.

In the AMC series’ Sunday night episode, “Time for After,” there’s good news: Rick finally gets the junkyard-dwelling Heapsters to agree to be on his side in his endless fight against his rivals in the apocalypse, the Saviors. The more ominous news, however, is that the episode ends with Mr. Grimes showing up at the Sanctuary, aka the Saviors’ headquarters, only to discover that the snipers he had in place there are MIA. And the walkers that were surrounding the facility for so long? They’re gone.

We’re all like, “Uh, what just happened?”

Rick’s plan, he explains to the Heapsters, is to ask for the Saviors’ surrender since they’re running out of supplies thanks to the herd of zombies that he and his group have surrounding their main building.

Unknown to Rick, however, his boy Daryl (Norman Reedus) is taking his own steps toward ending the ongoing war between the two groups by crashing a truck into a Sanctuary wall earlier in the episode. Daryl sends the truck speeding toward the facility, jumping out before the truck smashes a gaping hole in the structure. It’s all in an attempt to lure the zombies inside the Saviors’ home to kill them.

After the crash, the zombies flood inside. But when Rick shows up, the scene is eerily tranquil and walkers no longer siege the place. 

It appears Daryl’s stunt might have given Eugene (Josh McDermitt), who’d been working on a plan to save the Saviors from the lurking zombies, the opportunity to somehow clear the walkers out. 

Perhaps only Eugene and his majestic mullet know the truth.

To put it scientifically, there were a buttload of zombies surrounding the area before Daryl’s antics. They wouldn’t just disappear into thin air.

Well, it turns out there are some hints from the show that might point to where we’ll see them next. It’s probably not going to be so great for Rick.

Negan may use the zombie guts to infect Rick and his group.

In Season 8, Episode 5, “The Big Scary U,” Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) escape a trailer surrounded by zombies by covering themselves in guts, a tactic that we’ve seen work before on the show. Soon after, however, Gabriel becomes deathly ill.

Sunday’s episode ultimately explained that he’s suffering from an infection as a result of being exposed to those decrepit innards. So Gabriel’s illness, coupled with the fact that those missing zombies are bound to turn up again, make it look more and more like another storyline from the “Walking Dead” comics is coming into the show: The Saviors will use zombie guts against Rick’s group.

Gabriel’s illness makes it appear that covering weapons in zombie innards would mean that even a nick ― from, say, Negan’s baseball bat, Lucille ― could result in a life-threatening infection.

It’s like in “Game of Thrones” when Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) took on the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) with a poison covered spear. Actually, it’s weirdly exactly like that, since the Mountain becomes a zombie-like creature after the fight thanks to the work of Qyburn (Anton Lesser).

But wait — if that’s the case, shouldn’t zombie guts have given people trouble when they covered themselves in the past? Rick and his crew have covered themselves multiple times to sneak by zombies and seem fine after.

Father Gabriel’s illness would seem like a big continuity error had it not been foreshadowed: Negan brought up the idea of people getting sick from the guts before they both covered themselves.

Plus, “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman previously addressed the matter. According to E! NewsKirkman talked about the possibility of people getting sick from zombie guts on “Talking Dead” following the Season 6 midseason finale in late 2015.

“Coming in close contact with that material is also going to, you know, cause all kinds of illnesses aside from any kind of zombie-related nonsense. So you don’t want to be doing that all the time,” he said. 

If you’re still like, “Wait, this is baloney. They can’t just suddenly reveal zombie guts are dangerous now,” there’s a theory that could further explain it.

According to a Reddit user, the zombies that Gabriel and Negan came in contact with might have also been radioactive, meaning the reason Gabriel is sick is because of radiation poisoning. The theory rests on the fact that one of the Saviors’ outposts was an old chemical plant, and the show has included what appear to be overturned toxic waste barrels in the Season 8 episode “Some Guy.”

If zombies were slogging around in that gunk, it’s probably a bad idea to be rubbing their entrails on yourself like it’s a free body wash, right?

Another “Walking Dead” storyline from the comics (that we’ve yet to see in action on the show) involves other villains — Spoiler alert! —wearing zombie skin. Since they’re able to do that and survive, perhaps there was something making the zombie parts that Negan and Gabriel used unusually potent.

Whatever the reason, it seems like the zombie-gut-covered weapons could be in play as we move toward the midseason finale next Sunday. That’s why you should have your “shittin’” pants ready.

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