AMC's The Walking Dead just took a major turn in the narrative of this season. In the final few minutes of Season 8 Episode 11, leader of the Saviors, Negan, announced to his crew that they would be using a completely new tactic in their plot against Rick, the survivors of Alexandria, and the Hilltop. As it turns out, it looks like there is a second way that a person can be infected by the zombies. And Negan's new plan on The Walking Dead is using this information to his advantage — and the Hilltop crew should be very, very worried.
In all the years that The Walking Dead has been on the air, it's my guess that viewers assumed there is pretty much one way to get infected by a zombie. If you are attacked by an undead zombie you in turn will die and reincarnate as a "walker" — case closed. But in tonight's episode we have learned now that there is a strong possibility (if not a hundred percent chance) that there's another way.
After Father Gabriel started feeling symptoms that usually are the tell tale signs that one is infected by a zombie (despite never having been bitten) Negan gets an idea. In front of the rest of the Saviors, Negan takes his gal Lucille and cuts into the face of one of three zombies that he has chained up to a fence. He looks at the remnants of zombie corpse that have stuck onto Lucille (yuck) and displays it to his crew. "No more smashing and bashing with this," he says, "With this it can just be a touch, or a big wet kiss. Either way, this gets you you full membership and that's what we want. We want people to join the club! Hilltop is gonna learn to toe the line one way or another, whether it's dead or alive."
Once Negan's plan was revealed, everyone was basically like: this isn't good.
A little refresher, if you're confused:
Ok, so let's backtrack here. In the first half of Season 8, during Episode 5, Negan and Father Gabriel were trapped in a trailer and needed to escape before they were eaten alive by zombies, so they covered themselves with zombie guts as a kind of disguise.
This is not the first time we've seen this tactic being used on this show and its spinoff series Fear Of The Walking Dead. Characters have covered themselves in zombie innards to ward them off, which I assume works because the zombies smell their own flesh before they can smell human flesh and think that they can't kill something that's already dead.
After Negan and Gabriel successfully escaped, towards the end of that episode Gabriel started to come down with a fever: which is the first sign that someone has been infected by a zombie. If you're an uber-fan of this franchise and have read Robert Kirkman's original comics, you know that — spoilers! — Negan does eventually find out that simple contact with zombie guts can lead to infection, and uses this tactic against Hilltop's crew by suggesting they scrape zombie guts on their weapons and use them to infect basically everyone. So, basically what he's suggesting right now.
But we have yet to have seen this on the show, which is a serious turning point in the trajectory of this show. It looks like the "All Out War" season is coming to a head, and I am so nervous yet excited to see how Negan's plot will pan out. There are only a few episodes left in the season after all, and I'm sure the show runners have left the best (and bloodiest) for last. Who will be left standing? How far will Negan go in his crusade? I have so many questions and I can't wait to have them answered.