Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the midseason finale of AMC's The Walking Dead, which aired on Sunday.
With war breaking out all around them, the group of kids who were responsible for saving infant Judith Grimes and taking her to the bus for evacuation from the prison, apparently leaving her unprotected in her car seat on the ground.
Of course, at the time when they made the decision, things hadn't escalated quite so terribly out of control as they would later, and there weren't walkers roaming around the area. Shortly afterwards, though, there were--and when Rick and Carl found the baby's seat later, there was blood smeared on the edges, pooled in the seat and in a conspicuous puddle nearby. You can see that at left and click to enlarge if you'd like.
Carl and Rick--probably not unreasonably, especially because they didn't have a whole lot of time to sit around and contemplate the state of things with walkers roaming everywhere and the prison in shambles--assumed that she'd been taken and consumed by walkers--gone without a trace, just like her mother was last season. There was...considerable mourning.
But then, fan theories started to crop up. The baby didn't make the "in memoriam" montage on Talking Dead. People noticed that the baby's car seat seemed to have been properly unbuckled to remove the child, rather than left intact or gnawed through, as would be the case with a zombie attack. Suddenly, it kind of seemed like anything could have happened.
What do we think are the most likely scenarios? Well, here they are...
This is, without a doubt, our #1 choice.
As pointed out to us by a fan on the night the episode aired, the kids who left Judith unattended run off in what appears to be the direction of the car seat as the battle wanes. They're followed by Tyreese, who tells them that they're going the wrong way.
We never see the kids again, but we do get a shot of Tyreese, from behind, running toward the bus and carrying something like a football--protected with both hands and in front of his chest. Some fans have even claimed they can see Judith's head if you pause that scene at the right moment, although we haven't been able to replicate that result.
Beth and Daryl
Beth got off the bus to find Judith and later, after the bus had left and she connected with Daryl, told him that she was looking for the kids. Could she have found Judith, put her someplace safe and then returned to action to find the kids who had abandoned the baby? Seems farfetched, but it's one we've heard a number of fans seize on...and who doesn't want to see Daryl spending more time with the Little Asskicker?
Michonne is one of the characters (along with Tyreese and Bob Stookey) who were so bloodied by the end of the battle that she could plausibly have left that mess on the car seat.
She also, toward the start of this season when the plague storyline was just starting to take off, had that emotional connection with Judith that not a lot has really been done with since. Being, apparently, on her own again for the first time since she met Andrea, Michonne would face unique challenges dealing with a baby--needy, loud and all the things babies tend to be--while on her own in the world of The Walking Dead.
Bob, Sasha and Maggie
Bob, freshly shot shortly before the car seat was discovered, is probably the best candidate to actually leave that level of blood on the seat.
It would seem like a lot to pile on that group, though; Bob's alcoholism (and the fact that he's a lot of people's odds-on favorite to be the one who was feeding those walkers at the start of the season) along with a still-recovering Sasha and Maggie, preoccupied looking for her husband makes their situation the least suited to adding another challenge and another character.
Look, it's the obvious answer and even if it seems unlikely given the evidence above, there are two things working in its favor: Robert Kirkman cryptically told viewers there was "a lot of blood" in the car seat when asked whether she could have survived...
...and the preview for the midseason premiere has no sign of her with any of the groups.0comments
Now, obviously the ad was never going to give up her location if she is, indeed alive...but it's telling that many of the characters, including Tyreese, are shown from camera angles that would make Judith very difficult to hide.
If she's dead, it's probably a fair bet that the things made to look like she could have made it out--particularly the car seat straps--were done because the network wasn't comfortable showing the body onscreen, or something like that. Keeping the gore as far from the infant as possible could have been a company directive.