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Spoilers below for the latest episode of The Walking Dead: The World Beyond.
It's been nearly two years since Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes was seen within The Walking Dead's universe, as he and Pollyanna McIntosh's Jadis were last seen in early Season 9, flying away in a mysterious helicopter. Answers haven't exactly come fast and/or furious since that point, but franchise executive producer Scott Gimple & Co. have introduced a handful of clues about his current whereabouts across all three series. Now, the latest episode of the spinoff The Walking Dead: World Beyond featured a wild post-credits that finally gave a concrete answer to the big "A/B" question from Rick's final ep.
As fans will no doubt remember, the helicopter group used a seemingly simple classification structure for those it took in, with some falling under the "A" label, with Rick and others sorted under the "B" category. It was presumed that the letters had something to do with zombie bites, and The Walking Dead: World Beyond's last-minute scene from Episode 4, "The Wrong End of A Telescope," confirmed that very detail, as well as what apparently happens with those marked with an "A": they're all part of an extensive testing process, though it doesn't look like there's a whole lot of success happening. Let's discuss!
What Happened In World Beyond's Post-Credits Scene?
The final sequence began within a Civic Republic facility, focusing on the scientist Lyla (as portrayed by Succession's Natalie Gold) as she is in the midst of taking notes regarding the zombified test subject in the image above. The empty's name was Dr. Samuel Abbot, and he was apparently a lab partner (or just a general colleague) of both Lyla and Dr. Leo Bennett, father of Iris and Hope.
More interestingly, perhaps, is that the walker is labeled as "Test Subject A 4.0.2," which implies that this is the latest in a series of tests being performed on the bodies of both Samuel and many others that are also being housed in the same lab. The easiest guess is that research is being done on the zombies to potentially find a cure, or at least to stop the bodies from rotting away. Or maybe they're working with a particular strain of the walker outbreak that isn't quite the same as what viewers have seen in the past decade. It's hard to know how much to believe Here's what Lyla had to say during her brief evaluation of the current situation:
Test subject A 4.0.2. Test subject displayed no detectable responses to psychological stimuli. Necrotic plasma and brain fluid are being drawn for further testing. Results to be compared to tests performed during and immediately following reanimation. Tomorrow we'll begin the climate variation tests as scheduled.
Essentially, that just says that the former Dr. Samuel Abbot from Portland, Oregon doesn't seem to be taking to whatever is being done to him. But considering the casual way Lyla is digging into her sandwich – and how weird is it to see a tasty-looking sandwich in this universe? – it doesn't look like she expected anything more groundbreaking. She does look at Abbot with a bit of longing for a second, but it passes.
The post-credits scene also possibly confirms a suspicion that some viewers formed from Jadis' actions before the character's exit: the "A" subjects are being purposefully turned into walkers for these research purposes. (She'd labeled Rick an "A" in his trailer before setting him up to be mauled.) There are obviously tons of empties out there in the world naturally, as it were, but many of them are rotted beyond usefulness, and without specific testing protocols involved, it would be mostly impossible to know how each and every zombie was turned, which wouldn't be ideal for science. And if that's indeed true, then it means Lyla and possibly Leo sacrificed their colleague for the sake of research, which doesn't bode well for outsiders like Rick and Heath.
What The Walking Dead: World Beyond's Showrunner Said About The Post-Credits Scene
To be expected, The Walking Dead: World Beyond's boss Matt Negrete wasn't exactly forthcoming with spoilers about what that post-credits scene meant, nor how it will affect the future of this series or the impending Rick Grimes movies. But here's what he told EW about it:
What we're seeing in the coda is a glimpse at a new environment. We don't know where we are, but it's a new character, this woman who seems to be doing something very interesting with some empties, that seems very scientific-based. We also see a glimpse of a photo of some people that include the scientists and the girls' father and they seem rather close. We also see that the empty that she seems to be studying is also alive as a person in this photo. So that implies that a lot of shit's gone down, and it raises a lot more questions that we'll also be answering later on this season and into next season. A little bit of a tease of things to come.
So yes, we might actually be waiting until The Walking Dead: World Beyond Season 2 before we find any hard answers about what's happening in this scene, but I'm certainly hoping that Iris and Hope are able to meet back up with their father at some point without him becoming one of these test subjects. That wouldn't make for a very fun or heartwarming reunion in the slightest. Don't be too surprised if the name Samuel Abbot comes up in Fear the Walking Dead at some point, though.
With further answers to come for these lab-based empties, Leo Holt and more, The Walking Dead: World Beyond airs Sunday nights on AMC at 10:00 p.m. ET. While waiting for new episodes, head to our 2020 Fall TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way.