What’s The Deal With The Helicopter On ‘The Walking Dead’?

In the final minutes of tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Big Scary U,” Rick looks up and spots a helicopter. Despite the fact that it’s terribly out of place in a zombie apocalypse where flying vehicles are a rarity, Rick looks perplexed but not exactly concerned. Most people who see a helicopter at this point in the series would probably flip out and, at the very least, wonder if there was another civilization in their midst.

Rick, however, isn’t concerned enough about the helicopter to alter his plan. He continues to walk along his original path, heading to his ultimate destination.

What was the deal with that helicopter?

Helicopters have been used periodically to create mystery in the series. We saw a parked helicopter in the very first episode. There was a random helicopter in season one that left viewers scratching their heads. There was also a helicopter in season two before the Governor is introduced, who then showrunner Glen Mazzara explained was a “remnant of the civilization that existed before the apocalypse.” The Governor’s people actually shot down a helicopter. Another helicopter, meanwhile, was spotted on the roof of a grocery store in season four, and it nearly caused the roof to collapse.

That said, we haven’t seen a helicopter in several seasons on The Walking Dead. Or have we?
Last season, eagle-eyed viewers spotted a moving object in the background of a scene with Rick when he was with the Junkyard Community. If you’re watching the scene in question, viewers can actually see the circled object flying across the screen:

Many believe that may have just been an editing error, although Pollyanna McIntosh — who plays Jadis, and was standing with Rick when the helicopter was spotted — was asked about the helicopter in an interview. She was cagey in her response. “I can’t say anything,” McIntosh told The Huffington Post. “You either talk about a studio screw-up or you talk about a possible thing that might be part of a story, so either way I’m not doing the show justice.”

While I originally erred on the side of a screw-up, the existence of a helicopter on tonight’s episode suggests that maybe it was intentional. Rick, after all, continued walking toward it, and he was spotted by a mysterious figure with a whistle. That man looks like someone from Jadis’ Junkyard Gang. It also seems as though the man were expecting Rick. Perhaps recruiting Jadis and the Junkyard Gang away from Negan is part of Rick’s plan, the “last play,” as he told Daryl.

“Are you sure about doing it?” Daryl asked, suggesting there was some risk involved. If indeed, Rick is going to meet Jadis — who sold him and Alexandria out in the seventh season finale — there would be risk involved. But, if Jadis and the Junkyard Gang has a helicopter, perhaps the risk is worth it.