As expected, this week’s The Walking Dead took us to yet another new community, continuing its world-building rut by introducing a new settlement that’s not likely to play into the major season arc again until the back half of the seventh season. However, the episode did bring Tara back into the Alexandria fold, and it also disposed of Heath … for now.
Is Heath dead? It doesn’t seem so, as it appears he managed to escape the walkers on the bridge. How? We don’t know. He could’ve escaped in a car, or he could have been abducted by another group, like The Saviors. In either respect, it appears that he left behind a calling card, of sorts, containing the letters PPP.
Why leave the fate of Heath an open question rather than simply killing the character? That’s a good question, and here’s my theory: Corey Hawkins, who plays Heath, had to leave the show to begin working on his new show, 24: Legacy, where he’s been tapped as the lead. It’s a plum role for Hawkins, who was already coming off a feature role as Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton and an upcoming role in Kong: Skull Island. He’s poised to be a major star, and while his schedule likely doesn’t allow any additional work on The Walking Dead, it leaves the door open for a return down the line after Hawkins is more recognizable.
Alternatively, if 24: Legacy is cancelled after a season and Kong: Skull Island doesn’t lead to more high-profile roles, The Walking Dead can bring Heath back again next season, or potentially the ninth or tenth season. After all, the character of Heath is still alive in Robert Kirkman’s comic series, but he’s a relatively little-used character in the graphic novels. If Kirkman decided to beef up the role of Heath in the comics, he then has the potential option of bringing Corey Hawkins back to reprise the role.
It’s also possible that the decision has absolutely nothing to do with Hawkins himself. If the Saviors abducted Hawkins, revealing his death in a future episode could have an upsetting affect on the Alexandrians. In this scenario, perhaps, the PPP calling card that Heath left behind could be a clue to his whereabouts. The PPP hasn’t been seen in the show prior to this episode, so we don’t really know what it stands for yet. However, if the Saviors did kidnap Heath, the PPP could be a code similar to the A on the sweatshirt of Daryl, which is presumably some sort of classification system.
However, the answer to the mystery of Heath’s fate or the PPP card probably isn’t something we’ll find out anytime soon.