The Walking Dead: What Really Happened To Beth?

the-car-that-kidnapped-bethWhen AMC's fifth season of The Walking Dead kicks off in October, Rick Grimes's group of survivors will find themselves not free men living on a prison, as they were at the start of season four, but prisoners in the "sanctuary" of Terminus.

Not joining them will be Beth Greene, sister to Maggie and erstwhile companion to Daryl Dixon, who was whisked away by a mysterious blue Lincoln while Dixon fended off a group of walkers a few weeks before the season finale.

“She got taken, she’s not back yet,” series creator Kirkman said in a postmortem conversation about last night's episode at the official website for The Walking Dead comic books. “I can say that Terminus has a lot of signs out there and it’s certainly possible that all kinds of different people out there could make their way to Terminus in some way, so maybe Beth shows up to Terminus in Season 5… maybe not. I think I can say that Beth’s story is not over. We’ll see her again, maybe in Season 5, maybe not.”

There have been a lot of theories floating around since she vanished, some of which have been debunked over time. Kirkman's comments above seem to suggest she isn't already at Terminus, so the idea that she'd been kidnapped and brought there for some reason is out the window -- as is the popular fan-fiction variation that she will next be seen on a cannibal's dinner table in some recognizable form or another.

Fan anxiety around the whereabouts of Beth's character was heigtened, incidentally, when in the days leading up to the season finale of The Walking Dead, actress Emily Kinney (who plays Beth) was killed on The Following and graphic images depicting her character's death on that series started to pop up online, ostensibly showing her death on The Walking Dead.

So with a few candidates eliminated, some circumstances changed and not much of anybody added back in as far as specific suspects, who's still left form our list of potential abductors?

Gabriel_StokesGabriel Stokes

A longtime member of Rick Grimes's group of survivors in the comics, Gabriel Stokes was the reverend of a regional community church prior to the zombie outbreak. Terrified when the infestation started, he barricaded himself in the church for safety and denied sanctuary to people outside, leading them to be consumed by walkers.

Later, he became tortured by that, but continued to live alone in the empty church. He first encountered Rick and the rest of his group in The Walking Dead  #61, and while the survivors (and the readers) were suspicious of him at the time, they were more preoccupied with the deaths of Dale, Billy and Ben and the recent losses at the prison. Similar losses were felt this year in the form of Lizzie and Mika, with the potential for Dale's death to be passed along to another survivor at Terminus.

Gabriel claimed he had been living in the church's safety since the beginning of the epidemic, but the validity of his story, especially considering that it had been a full year since the outbreak began when the group encountered him, is questionable. In the TV iteration, this story would be impossible to believe since it has been significantly longer.

He's a good guy, somebody who would be willing to save Beth (and he's carrying around a ton of guilt, which would explain his zombie funerals) but he's also an established coward, so maybe with all the walkers around, he was too scared to stop for Daryl? If that's the case, maybe Beth isn't even in immediate danger but just resting her messed-up ankle!

saviors-full-smallThe Saviors

This would be a heck of a jump forward from the comics timeline, but series creator Robert Kirkman has said repeatedly that there are already plans in place to bring Negan into the show.

Leaving aside the fact that the leather jacket, the foul attitude, the cruelty and the god complex (complete with unquestioningly-loyal followers) make Joe of the home invaders from "Claimed" seem quite Negan-like, Kirkman has been known to use cross imagery in association with Negan in the comics, even while "The Saviors" aren't as blatantly religious as one might expect.

These are very, very long odds, but many fans believe there's a cross in the car's back window ("Saviors," get it?)...and the fact that Robert Kirkman has said he has a plan for bringing Negan into the show (but not right away) and that Beth's story might not resolve itself in Season Five...well, that could all fit together, as could the fact that in the comics, Maggie Greene (Beth's sister on TV) has left Rick's group and resides at the Hilltop Colony. Setting Beth up at one of the settlements could create a similar dynamic in the TV show without having to lose the Maggie/Glenn chemistry on set.

walking-dead-the-huntersThe Hunters

A group of brutal survivors, The Hunters are cannibals who catch their victims using clever traps rather than relying (at least exclusively) on brute force.

In the comics, they attempted and failed to take Glenn, an managed to kidnap and partially eat Dale. In the TV series, of course, Dale has been dead for some time and so if there's to be a sacrifice to The Hunters, it won't be him. Beth, Bob, Tara, Tyreese and Carol could all be strong candidates since their characters are either dead, or never existed, in the comics.

Of course, there's good reason to believe that these characters (or some twist on them) could be the people who run Terminus, so they might be out by default.