Not that you need reminding, but spoilers and speculation to follow.
Last Sunday's episode, "Claimed", was another high-point in what's been a season of continual improvement. Michonne and Carl bonded over Easy Cheese, Eugene proved that he's terrible (or actually really good?) at handling a gun and Rick had one of the worst siesta's since it rained that one day on the plains of Spain.
Rick was caught short when a gang of thugs entered the house looking for loot and wrestled over sleeping arrangements. Luckily he managed to escape using his stealth ninja skills, but I'm almost certain this is not the last time we've seen these guys. Why?
They are The Hunters.
Those that have read Robert Kirkman's comic book source material will know the name well. Without giving too much away, the Hunters like to hunt and the meal of choice is human flesh.
"Yeah, but why do you think these miscreants are the Hunters?" I hear three of you ask. Good question.
First off, the guy cast as the leader of the gang, Joe, wasn't some no-name extra. Instead the role went to Jeff Kober, veteran actor of TV shows such as Sons of Anarchy and CSI. It makes no sense to cast such a recognizable face only to then ditch them after barely a few seconds screen time.
Kirkman has also confirmed that this not the last we've seen of Joe:
His character is definitely going to be returning again and it will happen when you least expect it.
When you least expect it? I can tell you when you least expect it: when you wake up after being kidnapped in the middle of the night and someone's eating your leg like a chicken wing - that's when you least expect it.
The other reason I think that Joe could be the leader of the Hunters is despite only having a short amount of screen time, the character already has a couple of iconic traits - his tennis ball and talent for whistling.
When Rick was hiding behind the door in one of the kid's bedrooms we couldn't see Joe but we heard him approaching. The rhythmical bouncing of the ball married to the eerily chirpy tune he was whistling was incredibly tense. It was a terrifying calling card, the sound of approaching death. Bang. Bang. Bang. We haven't heard the last of it.
Fear the Hunters.
Lizzie will kill again
Following on from last week's theory that Lizzie was responsible for killing Karen and David and was going to kill again, I noticed a piece of foreshadowing in "Claimed" that supports this.
When Michonne and Carl were clearing the house and swapping anecdotes, Carl picked up a painting wrapped in paper, which, when opened, revealed a macabre sight. A portrait of a girl had been mutilated with violent slashes of red and black - a disfigured visage and a warning of things to come.
Hold on to your hatchets, this next part is going to get speculative. Here's what I think the painting represents.
The girl in the picture was young and blonde and the innocence of the drawing had been corrupted by the violence of the blood-red and black brush strokes. This could be a representation of Lizzie and her journey from sweet kid to depraved killer and the unwrapping of the painting was a foreshadowing of the unwrapping of her humanity and compassion, which is laying in tatters on the floor.
My other thought was the girl in the picture was a reference to Mika and a foreshadowing of her death. I predicted last week that I thought Lizzie was going to murder her sister and this painting could be the first clue that confirms her fate. Showrunner Scott Gimple admitted himself that the back half of Season 4 is littered with clues as to what will happen in the coming weeks. Could this painting be one of them?
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