This post contains potential spoilers for The Walking Dead season seven and the comic series.
As anticipation for the forthcoming seventh season of The Walking Dead reaches fever pitch, much of the focus is understandably on the identity of the character whose head became a human baseball at the end of last season thanks to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Such is the furor surrounding that episode's cliffhanger, it's easy to overlook some of the other questions that remain going into series seven. How will Ezekiel and his Kingdom treat Morgan and Carol and are they friend or foe? What on Earth happened to Tara and Heath? And perhaps most interestingly, will we see any new characters this season, be it familiar faces from the comic books or original creations for TV?
Fans of The Walking Dead comic series will know that with four main settlements now present in the story (Rick's Alexandria, The Hilltop, Ezekiel's Kingdom and Negan's Saviors), there are plenty of new faces to introduce and develop and a sizeable plot to work through, assuming the show roughly follows the All Out War comic arc. But reports from the filming of season seven seem to suggest that the TV adaptation will still attempt to bring in fresh characters in the midst of all the chaos between Rick and Negan and two brand new characters have already been confirmed.
According to the Spoiling Dead Facebook page (via Cinemablend), a new character called 'Jennie' will be added to the cast and will slot into an arc with Tara, who we last saw leaving on a supply run with Heath prior to Negan's arrival. Jennie is rumored to be in her mid to late teens and have an optimistic, yet hardened, personality and she'll be played by actress Sydney Park of Instant Mom and That's So Raven fame.
Reports from the Jekyll Island, Georgia set where The Walking Dead has been filming seem to suggest that Jennie will appear with a group of other women and children who will discover Tara washed up on a beach next to a corpse. If these rumors are true, the obvious implication is that this corpse could be Heath, a character who has arguably been underused thus far and it would be a wasted opportunity if he was to die early in season seven. The Spoiling Dead Facebook page takes the speculation further, inferring that in episode six, Jennie will supposedly revive Tara, who repays her by making a swift getaway from the group, presumably to meet back up with her own band of survivors.
Even though it can be assumed the name 'Jennie' is a code name or working title for the character, it's still difficult to think of a comic-based character that matches her description, implying that Jennie will be a TV-original entity. Wandering even further into speculative territory however, it's possible that if Jennie were a character from the comic series, she could be Lydia. For non-comic readers, Lydia appears quite far ahead in the overall story, after the conclusion of the Negan arc, with a new group of survivors nicknamed The Whisperers.
Although The Whisperers, who dress up in zombie skins for protection, don't debut for quite some time in the print realm, eagle-eyed fans noticed that in the SDCC trailer for The Walking Dead season seven, a brief few frames (see above) seemed to display a group of zombies who looked suspiciously uniform in appearance and some have claimed this as evidence that The Whisperers will indeed appear next season. Hopefully, all will be revealed when the show returns in October but until then, let the speculation continue.
The Walking Dead season seven premiers on AMC on October 23rd.