The Season Five premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead gave fans an awful lot of what they wanted: badass Carol moments, an explosive resolution to the Terminus storyline, a brutal, gung-ho Rick and more.
But did it also bring back one of the series' longest-running regular characters?
Well, no, but it does seem like they brought back some of her clothes.
Fans on Reddit (that's one of a few threads that cover the question) realized that, as you can see in the image above, one of the walkers on this week's episode of The Walking Dead was wearing a shirt that had belonged to Andrea. That zombie -- a blonde woman with a handcuff dangling from one arm and a mangled face -- led them to wonder whether the self-inflicted gunshot wound that Andrea had used to kill herself and ensure she didn't turn had been ineffective.
If she'd shot herself in the head but missed her brain, the thinking went, her face could be partially destroyed but she may have reanimated. The handcuff, which Andrea might have been wearing since she spent her final hours mostly chained to a chair in Woodbury, is certainly a tempting clue that there's some backstory there, and the tight, black jeans sure do seem vaguely Andrea-like.
Some arguments against it, though:
Andrea was not wearing this particular shirt when she was killed, though. As you can see at right, the stripe patterns she was wearing at the time of her death were slightly different; also, she was wearing a cardigan underneath her jacket which isn't the same one (or even in the neighborhood, color-wise) on the walker.
She was also barefoot at the time of her death, having been using her toes to try to escape.
Oh, and she was taken back to the prison after her death and buried by Rick and the group.
One could argue (and this being the Internet, people are doing so) that after she shot herself off-camera, Rick and crew could have taken her body back for burial and put her in the striped shirt for some reason (maybe it was her favorite, or just so she wasn't covered in blood at burial). Somehow, she could have crawled out of the grave -- the combination of no coffin and explosions loosening the soil during the second battle with The Governor, perhaps?
And, yes, she was still wearing at least half of the handcuffs after being freed, per the image at left (although it's on the OTHER hand from the one seen in the image above).
It's quite a stretch. We didn't see the burial, so it's as likely that they burned her body. She was left in the room with Michonne when she shot herself, and it's almost impossible to imagine that Michonne would let her dearest friend turn rather than finishing her off with the katana if the aim wasn't true. Woodbury wasn't that close to the prison, and it's unlikely that they would have put Andrea in the ground instantly after returning from the harrowing trip out, so for the timeline to work, Andrea would have had to take a really long time to turn.
Of course, in the comics, all of that happened with Shane, although by the time he turned, Rick had figured out what was happening and returned to dispatch him as he crawled out of his grave.
In any event, it's a theory. A very unlikely one, but one that keeps coming up online. The camera seemingly lingered on the handcuffs for a moment, which some feel bolsters their claim, but others note that it could just as likely be a seed for future storytelling -- another place where characters might be chained up, or even just a character we could see in the spinoff, a webisode, whatever. Any or all of those is more likely than it being Andrea considering all the evidence against.
If the showrunners even made the Andrea connection, the two most likely scenarios, it seems, are that they used a shirt recognizable as Andrea's and someone decided to toss the cuff on to see if anyone noticed (they always do, after all)...or that this is a case of Andrea having a "twin," like the one Michonne saw of herself late in Season Four when she was traveling alone and had a breakdown, cutting a small herd of walkers to bit in response.
On top of everything else, there's this: when Shane and Lori have come back, even for brief shots, fantasy sequences, flashbacks, and the like, the producers of The Walking Dead have brought back the original actors to reprise the roles. When a fan asked actress Laurie Holden about the "Andrea Walker," here's what she had to say:
“@Jordana951: can you put a rumor to rest plz people think the walker on the tracks w/ the cuffs was Andrea thx!" I ain't no zombie.— Laurie Holden (@Laurie_Holden) October 14, 2014
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC. If showrunners comment on this theory, we'll update the story.