Ratings may be declining for #TheWalkingDead, but their special effects budget seems to get higher and higher (don't think we aren't appreciating this season's walkers, AMC). Which is why it's bizarre that they couldn't have invested a little more effort in portraying a simple pile of burning mattresses— especially when it's supposed to be a clever Easter Egg.
That smoking grey pile is like an optical illusion: hard to define, but once you know what it is, you can't not see it. You know what some people thought it was? A UFO. They thought the show's writers had lost their goddamn minds and sent an alien crash-landing outside Alexandria, because at this point, why the hell not?
The theory wasn't exactly unwarranted. Back when he was trying to get The Walking Dead book published, Robert Kirkman lied to publishers about the finer details of the story so publishers would find it more enticing:
"I basically just lied to them and said, 'Well look, this is how it's going to be: The whole book is going to be as I pitched it, but as the issues progress, eventually I'm going to reveal that it was actually aliens who caused the zombie uprising. And it's going to be leading to this big battle between the humans and the aliens, and the aliens did this to kind of weaken the humans' military forces, and eventually it's going to be this big alien invasion.'"
Kirkman has since admitted to his publishers that he had been "fibbing a little bit", and they agreed that "he might ruin this by putting aliens in it". So that's one theory we can probably discredit.
More Walking Dead:
- 'The Walking Dead': Here's Why Negan Burned Everyone's Beds
- 5 Things You Might Have Missed In 'The Walking Dead' Episode 4 'Service'
- This Walking Dead Easter Egg Has Been Going on for Five Seasons but I Never Noticed!
While it's not quite as exciting as aliens, that pile of mattresses was more than an epic middle-finger to Rick's group. It's a sign that someone in the Saviors is a Godfather fan:
"Going to the mattresses" is mafia slang that means going to war with a rival gang. Mobsters would rent out empty houses or hotel rooms for gang members to stay in during the feud, and fill the rooms with mattresses for communal sleeping. Kind of like a really tense sleepover.
This isn't the first time The Walking Dead has made reference to other films throughout the season, specifically with the use of "tribute walkers"— like this guy from earlier in the season:
However, it could be a vital clue as to the real nature of the relationship between the Saviors and Rick's group: in the war between these two rival gangs, it's clear who has the safest territory.