Wherever Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) may "B" in the Walking Dead Universe, he's not "A" zombified test subject being experimented on by the Civic Republic. In Sunday's The Walking Dead: World Beyond, "The Wrong End of a Telescope," a post-credits scene solves the "A and B" mystery started on The Walking Dead when Civic Republic scientist Lyla (Natalie Gold) studies zombie-bitten test subjects labeled as "As." These experiments, taking place in the Civic Republic research facility in New York State where Dr. Leo Bennett (Joe Holt) is supposedly seeking a cure to the zombie virus, are part of a reveal dating back to past seasons of The Walking Dead.
In The Walking Dead season 8, Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) captures Rick and labels him an "A." She tries to have him bitten by a walker (in "Time for After") and traded to the helicopter group we now know as the Civic Republic Military, but he fights off Jadis and her Scavengers and escapes.
Jadis goes on to take two more "A" prisoners, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), who are both tied up in Jadis' junkyard (in "Still Gotta Mean Something" and "The Obliged") and nearly bitten by her walkers. Jadis previously considered Gabriel a "B" before he rejected an offer to run away with her to the Civic Republic, a utopia with a population of 200,000 survivors living in a classified location.
After Jadis (real name Anne) abandons the junkyard and joins Rick's people in Alexandria, she radios in extraction for herself but fails to provide a CRM helicopter with an "A."
When Anne comes across a wounded Rick after he blows up a bridge to destroy a walker horde (in "What Comes After"), she pleads for the CRM to save him: "I have a B. Not an A, I never had an A. He's hurt, but he's strong. Can you help him? It's not a trick. Not anymore. I'm trying to save a friend. A friend who saved me. I have something for you now! Do we have a deal?"
Rick and Anne are both shuttled away aboard the helicopter, vanishing without a trace. A teaser trailer for the Walking Dead feature film reveals Rick was transported to Philadelphia, not far from the CRM research facility located somewhere in New York.
In The Walking Dead season 10, Rick's partner Michonne (Danai Gurira) learns Rick survived the explosion when she discovers his belongings inside a boat washed ashore on Maryland's Bloodsworth Island. She also finds a logbook filled with multiple locations: Tampa Bay, Florida; Hopewell, Virginia; and most recently, Bridgers Shipyard in New Jersey.
World Beyond tells us an "A" is a test subject bitten by walkers, meaning Rick isn't undergoing zombie experiments by the Civic Republic. But he's not out of danger: as we saw with Gabriel, "Bs" can lose their status and be demoted to an "A."
Rick's branding as a "B" is the key to his survival, but he still has to escape the clutches of the CRM: World Beyond explained why Rick hasn't returned home in the more than seven years he's been away.
Walking Dead chief content officer Scott Gimple, who scripts Rick's return in the film franchise, previously confirmed the untitled feature would explore the vast mythology behind the CRM. More about the A and B-type people "serves the overall story to this next story we have for Rick," Gimple told THR in 2018.
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. New episodes of The Walking Dead: World Beyond premiere Sundays at 10/9c on AMC.