The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead Season 10, "The Tower," referenced Season 5 when it brought back a little-used term for zombies. When Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Ezekiel (Khary Payton), and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) journey into the city while en route to Charleston, West Virginia, to meet with Eugene's radio contact from a new community, they encounter a purple-haired survivor in a fuzzy pink coat. The gun-wielding lone survivor introduces herself as Princess (Paola Lázaro), real name Juanita Sanchez, who reveals she's responsible for the quirky dioramas throughout the city using walkers as decorations — her way of entertaining herself after spending more than a year alone.
"Not many rotters left in the city, so I put these up as my decorations," Princess tells the group from Hilltop. "Pain in the ass to put together, but they make the place feel more alive."
The term "rotter" was heard in Season 5 episode "Slabtown," during the arc revolving around the missing Beth (Emily Kinney) when she was abducted and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. The hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, was used by policewoman Dawn (Christine Woods) and other members of the Atlanta Police Department, who mostly referred to the corpses piling up and left to rot at the bottom of an elevator shaft as "rotters."
It was there Beth met Noah (Tyler James Williams), a former ward of the hospital who Beth helped escape. Noah eventually joined the Alexandrians led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and used the term "rotter" when speaking to Aaron (Ross Marquand) in Season 5 episode "The Distance."
While in the RV with Aaron, Noah opened up about a leg injury sustained in a car accident during the early days of the outbreak, where Noah and his father encountered "rotters in the road."
A more overt connection to Season 5 is the abandoned hospital tower used by the survivors as a hideout in "The Tower," where the heroes are on the run from a walker horde unleashed by Whisperer Beta (Ryan Hurst). The set was the same one where Daryl (Norman Reedus) carried out Beth's lifeless body in "Coda," Beth's death episode.
The Walking Dead revealed another tie to Beth actress Emily Kinney earlier this season when a song performed by Beta — since revealed as a prolific country music artist pre-apocalypse — was inspired by music originally performed by Kinney.0comments
"Rotter" is just one of several names used for zombies, most commonly referred to as walkers, in The Walking Dead. In upcoming spinoff The Walking Dead: World Beyond, which introduces the Campus Colony in Nebraska, walkers are referred to as "empties," another little-used term borrowed from creator Robert Kirkman's comic book.
The Walking Dead next airs “A Certain Doom” as a special episode later this year. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.