Spoilers for the Walking Dead comics and show below. Stick a walker’s fingers in your ears if you aren’t caught up on both.
While The Walking Dead always has “a world teeming with walkers” as an ever-present antagonist, the show has arguably been at its best when there are human villains for Rick & Co. to aim their negative feelings at. Sure, Gareth ended up being a total bust, but the Terminus storyline was still an interesting one, and David Morrissey’s Governor is going to be tough to top. The second half of Season 5 hasn’t given any real clues as to who might next step into the villainous spotlight, but we’re betting it’s going to be Pete, the character name-checked in tonight’s episode “The Distance.”
In the episode, which finally brought Rick’s group to the Alexandria safe haven, there’s a scene between Noah and Aaron, the mysterious new character who popped up last week, where Noah’s injured leg is brought up. Aaron mentions that there is a doctor in Alexandria by the name of Pete who might be able to help Noah out, and the ears of comic fans everywhere perked up, as the character Pete “Never Peter” Anderson played a small but important role in the series once the Alexandria storyline was introduced.
As a doctor in the pre-apocalypse, Pete is a necessary member of the Alexandria community, and his talents are far and away his most redeeming qualities. Because otherwise, he’s a dick. He is the husband of Jessie, with whom he has had many arguments; enough so that the community considers it second nature. Pete also has a son, Ron, and their relationship is almost the same. In fact, it’s Ron’s black eye that causes Rick to first take interest in Pete, believing him to be an abusive husband and father.
While I won’t get too heavily into spoilers here, since showrunner Scott Gimple will presumably be porting the bulk of this storyline to the TV series, Rick and Pete become fast enemies. Rick’s point of view is that destructive behavior at any cost needs to be rectified, usually by severe penalties, but others in Alexandria see Pete’s medical knowledge as more important than his actions behind closed doors. And I’m guessing that’s exactly how things will play out on the show, which incidentally just had a storyline chunk taking place inside a functioning hospital with lots of doctors. Plus, their feud leads to one of the most massive walker sequences in the series, so it’s not ALL about the living.
It’s probably worth noting that there has already been a Pete in The Walking Dead, as Enver Gjokaj played Pete Dolgen for the Season 4 episode “Dead Weight.” He was one of the Governor’s minions, and one whose post-death was pretty memorable, as he was the guy who turned into a walker while underwater in a lake with his leg weighted down. I’m betting this new Pete lasts a little longer than a single episode.
It’ll still be a while yet before the psychotically amazing Negan arrives to make life hell for Rick and the citizens of Alexandria, and although these characters’ lives are about to get a lot more stable within a functioning society, The Walking Dead can’t afford to go too long without some pointed controversy. Pete, we’ve got our non-black eyes on you.