Warning! SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 9, episode 3 ahead!
Tonight's Walking Dead finally confirms a long-running theory - the cryptic "A" seen tagged on everything from train cars to shipping containers has a meaning, and it's connected to that mystery helicopter.
The Walking Dead season 9 has so far been a big improvement over recent seasons of the show, recapturing the feel of earlier seasons by focusing more closely on character relationships and the re-building of civilization. Still, the series continues to suffer in the ratings, which might just signal that the effort made to improve The Walking Dead this season is too little, too late.
Then again, with the series finally digging in to one of its biggest mysteries, this could just stir up enough intrigue to reignite viewers' interest. The helicopter and "A" have been mainstays of Walking Dead theories for years now, with both first appearing seasons ago. And in tonight's episode, "Warning Signs," we learn that Jadis/Anne definitely knows who's flying the helicopter, as well as the meaning behind those "A" messages.
- This Page: The Helicopter Sightings and the Letter "A"
- Page 2: What Do "A" and "B" Mean?
The Helicopter Sightings Explained
There have actually been several helicopter sightings on The Walking Dead, but most agree that this particular helicopter first shows up in the season 7 episode when Rick first visits the Scavenger's garbage dump. The scene has Rick looking out over the expansive dump and far off in the distance a helicopter can be seen moving right to left in the frame. Some assumed it was merely a gaffe - just a totally normal helicopter accidentally caught on camera. But that scene was clearly filmed in front of a green screen and not anywhere a random helicopter could accidentally appear.
In season 8, the helicopter became an even bigger deal when Rick watches a helicopter fly over head at the end of episode 5, though even he thought he might hallucinating. This was soon followed by Simon questioning Jadis about why the Scavengers' dump has a hidden helipad and solar panels before massacring them in episode 10. Then in episode 14, the helicopter returns in another low fly over the dump when Jadis is holding Negan captive. She desperately tries to signal the helicopter, but the flare is extinguished in her fight with Negan and the helicopter flies off.
This helicopter reappears again in last week's episode, spotted by Jadis - now going by her real name, Anne - when she's on watch. That sighting leads Anne to return to the dump in tonight's episode, where she recovers a walkie-talkie she stashed there. She uses it to make contact with... someone, telling them she saw the helicopter last night and knows they're nearby. And it's this conversation that confirms what many have long suspected - Jadis/Anne knows all about the helicopter, where it comes from and who's piloting it.
The Sightings of "A" Explained
But that's not all Anne's conversation with the mystery person on the other end of the walkie-talkie reveals. In response, the person on the other end replies: "What do you have - an 'A' or a 'B'?" This is the first time any characters have mentioned "A" (or "B" for that matter) but it is certainly not the first time The Walking Dead has included the cryptic lettering.
The first and most notable appearance of "A" came during season 4 when the group arrived at Terminus and faced the cannibals. In that episode (itself titled "A") the letter is written all over the Terminus compound, and most notably it appears on the train car that Rick and the rest of the group are imprisoned in at the end. Since then, "A" has taken on a very ominous meaning, and whenever it appears - as it did on Daryl's sweatshirt when he was a prisoner of the Saviors - fans are quick to assume it means something really bad is about to happen.
In season 8, the "A" reappears when Jadis captures Rick and puts him in a shipping container that she then labels with an "A". At the time, many assumed it was just another wink at the audience, another hint that something really bad was about to happen. But in tonight's episode, the conversation Anne has on the walkie-talkie - as well as her conversation with Gabriel when he later confronts her - exposes that there is a definite meaning behind "A" and it's linked with whoever is flying around in that helicopter.