Warning: Spoilers for The Walking Dead comic (and therefore maybe TV series) ahead. Proceed with caution.
After the events of the first half of Season 7, Walking Dead fans will be excited to get into the back half of the season which promises the coming together of a plan that could finally put Negan firmly in his place.
After Season 7a dealt with the fall out from that insane season premiere, it looks like Season 7b will go in a very different direction, with showrunner Scott Gimple recently revealing that 7b is "a very, very different half season than the half season that preceded it." So with that said, what exactly should we be expecting to see in the upcoming eight episodes? Well thanks to the recently released plot outline, as well as the comic book series source material, we have more of an idea than you might think. Take a look below at our hot predictions for the second half of #TheWalkingDead Season 7.
1. Preparing for (and marching to) war
A look at the first paragraph of the Season 7b plot outline briefly covers the events of Season 7a, but also gives us a good look at what we can expect over the next eight episodes:
The first half of Season 7 saw Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the group broken by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), forced to fall under his will and brutally convinced to live under his rules. The second half of the season will focus on preparing for war and gathering the supplies and numbers to take Negan down once and for all.
This "preparing for war" likely means that much of the next eight episodes will take their inspiration from the "March To War" storyline from the comic series, which takes place over six issues.
Season 7 has actually already covered some of the events of 'March To War', but it seems likely that Season 7b will cover events, including the Hilltop and Kingdom banding together with Rick and beginning training to fight against Negan. This will probably culminate in a skirmish between Rick and Negan's groups, leading to a battle and the declaration of war between the groups.
Given that we're already part way through the events of March To War, we can either expect to go beyond it by the end of Season 7, or perhaps there will be a wealth of original, non-comic book material to flesh it out. Either scenario will be welcomed!
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2. Rick being introduced to Ezekiel, Shiva and the Kingdom
This seems likely to happen in the mid-season premiere, but we can certainly look forward to the surprised reaction of Rick and co firstly after they learn of another big community, and secondly after the learn about Ezekiel's pet tiger.
It will ultimately be Rick's hope to recruit Ezekiel and his community to fight with Alexandria against Negan, though given that Richard was already having trouble convincing Ezekiel to fight Negan, and had no support from Carol or Morgan, it remains to be seen how successful he'll be.
3. Negan's preparations and retribution
Negan's got eyes and ears everywhere, so if Rick's group are planning to mount an attack, there's no doubt #Negan will hear about it relatively quickly. Given Negan's has recently acquired Eugene and his bullet-making skills, I'd say it seems unlikely he'd be that concerned at the potential for attack. Instead Negan is probably currently more concerned with discovering who is responsible for allowing Daryl to escape. We never actually learned who aided Daryl's escape, with Dwight, Sherry or even Jesus all being possible suspects. Negan will be keen to sniff out any weak link in the chain, and there will probably be a full enquiry into how this was allowed to happen.
4. Betrayers on both sides
As much as Rick or Negan may want to believe they have a rock solid crew of supporters, the Season 7b synopsis and an interview with actor, Lennie James begs to differ. James confirmed that the line in the plot outline, "we'll see treachery from people we trust," meant that people from both Negan and Rick's sides would swap allegiance in Season 7b, including people who might surprise us.
There's a list of many suspects for those who flee to the other side, with the most obvious being that Hilltop's Gregory will probably opt to side with the Big Bad out of fear. However, characters including Heath, Rosita and even Eugene are also prime suspects. Meanwhile in Negan's base, Dwight and his estranged wife Sherry are top picks for Negan's followers who drift to Rick's aid, with Dr. Emmett Carson — brother of Hilltop's Dr. Harlan Carson — also a big possibility.
For a more in depth look check out: 'The Walking Dead' Actor Confirms A Character Betrayal In Season 7b But Who Will It Be?
After Heath's quick exit in Episode 6, leaving behind only a swipe card reading "PPP," it would make sense that there's some sort of resolution to this massive loose end in Season 7b. Shortly before Heath disappeared we heard how he was struggling with what this world had become, believing it was now all about individual survival, and doing what had to be done to survive. Hopefully over the next eight episodes we get more clues leading to either Heath himself (alive or as a walker), or giving us a good indication to where he might be. We haven't had a character of The Walking Dead just disappear on us for many seasons, and I'm sure the writers have something creative up their sleeve to explain where he is.
6. New community and a reintroduction of a new-ish community
Season 7a introduced us to three new communities (the Kingdom, Negan and the Saviors and Oceanside), but apparently that wasn't all of them given that the Season 7b synopsis promised "we’ll meet new survivors in incredible places." This seems to be related to the mysterious "Boots" character who we saw at the end of the mid-season finale, and also looks to tie in with an image of Rick meeting a new group in what looks to be a garbage dump or junkyard environment. The major issue with this new group will be whether or not they're a threat, because the last thing the group need now is another battle on their hands.
But while the junkyard group are one thing, there's also the matter of Oceanside, a community that so far only Tara knows about. While she promised to keep silent about its existence, in the end the Oceanside residents almost killed Tara, so I'd say she has reason to blab about them to whomever she pleases. Oceanside are a staunch group and give off the impression of being fiercely independent, and it'd be a surprise if anyone could convince them of an alliance given their past, so maybe they'll end up being a Switzerland-type neutral entity in this whole debacle. Time will tell!
The Walking Dead returns to AMC with Episode 9 on February 12