Big spoiler warning for The Walking Dead 8x02.
As teased by the episode 8x02 synopsis, a "familiar face" would be returning to The Walking Dead — and while the face is certainly familiar, it's definitely more surprising.
In 8x01, the combined efforts of Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom lead a horde of Walkers to flood the Sanctuary, home base to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors. In 8x02 "The Damned," while strike teams set out to attack multiple Savior outposts, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) lead a mission in search of a cache of Savior guns, supposedly on the top floor of an office building. The mission is simple: "If those guns get to the Sanctuary," Rick says, "they could cut through those Walkers and free up an exit."
After Rick and Daryl have successfully infiltrated the building, Rick makes not one, but two shocking discoveries: first, after being attacked by a Savior who he then kills by impaling him with a shelf, Rick comes across a little baby girl laying cozy in a crib. Second, Rick is confronted by Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja) — one of his old allies from the Atlanta camp, way back in season 1.
"Hi, Rick," Morales says.
"Your name is Morales," utters a surprised Rick. "You were in Atlanta."
"That was a long time ago," Morales says, walkie talkie in hand. "It's over, Rick. I called the Saviors back, and they're coming." Morales draws a gun on Rick, then — click. Episode over.
Holy sh—t. Morales is back? And he's in bed with the bad guys?
Fans have long joked about Morales making a return — but no one really ever expected it to happen. Last we saw him, Morales was your average American dad, with wife, daughter and son in tow. Rick and Morales fought side by side with their old friends — T-Dog, Glenn, Andrea, Jacqui — to escape the ruins of Atlanta. Once the group decided to head for the CDC, Morales and his family chose instead to head to Birmingham in search of family. As a parting gift, Rick gave Morales a walkie talkie, a gun, a box of ammo and well wishes. It was the last we'd ever see of them, we thought, and Morales' surprise reappearance came as a major shock to Rick, who already has to contend with the fact that he totally just scored a free baby out of this whole deal.
This wouldn't be the first time Rick has hallucinated: when his estranged wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), died back in season 3, Rick fell to pieces and began hallucinating all over the place. He hallucinated the angelic spirit of his recently deceased wife, and he had ghost conversations over the phone with those the group had lost by that point. During a fire fight at Woodbury, Rick hallucinated a Woodbury soldier to be Shane (Jon Bernthal) — his former police officer partner and best friend that he gutted in a field back on Hershel's farm.
Before Rick runs into Morales, he's rattled by the hand-to-hand-to-shelf fight he just survived, and his little diaper-wearing discovery. (Rick's already raising one kid of a guy who tried to kill him, doubt he wants another.) Is Rick lapsing into his old trippy ways?
Doubtful: Rick just got his swagger back, and he's fresh off of nearly killing Negan. If he were to start hallucinating now, it's doubtful it would be Morales of all people that Rick would fantasize about; he's an old face from the past who Rick knew briefly about 20 months ago. Still, your guess is as good as any as to how Morales became a friggin' Savior.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.