At the AMC Summit in April, Fear the Walking Dead co-showrunner Ian Goldberg teased that a certain walker would "open a universe of possibilities" in Season 5 of the Walking Dead spin-off. We met that walker in the premiere, and Goldberg wasn't exaggerating: the walker, when he was alive, was part of the same mysterious group that took Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) away in a helicopter on The Walking Dead, the flight that will in turn lead to the first of the Rick Grimes spin-off movies. The proof is the symbol of three interlocking circles, which appeared on both the helicopter and on the dead man's uniform and gear.
And that walker was not alone; at least one other member of the group is alive, in Texas, and has taken Al (Maggie Grace) prisoner.
We still don't who the helicopter people are, what they want, or what that three-ring symbol means, but we're going to get some more light shed on the subject soon. All we know for sure is what we saw. Here's what happened: After Al crash-landed the group's plane, drawing the attention of walkers from all over the surrounding area, she had a curious encounter with one of them. This particular walker was dressed in a peculiar black uniform that kind of looked like if a Star Wars stormtrooper joined a biker gang, with an intimidatingly featureless mask/helmet over his head. She tried to stab him in the cranium, but the helmet was solid, so instead she knocked him onto a pole sticking out of the ground, which immobilized him but didn't kill him. She took out her camera and filmed him for a bit before going to help the rest of the group. Later, she reviewed her footage and told Morgan (Lennie James) that they should go back and check out this walker very soon.
"There's a story here," she said. "I know my tapes haven't done sh-- to help us so far, but this one might."
Morgan said to wait, so Al went back alone later that night. She noticed the uniform was piped with electrical wiring, and then she found a pouch with his stuff. It held a paper map and some clear plastic cards that looked like the outlines of counties or zone boundaries or something, both stamped with the interlocking rings. She called out over the radio to Morgan, "I was right, there's a story here," and then another guy in the same uniform hit her from behind with a stun gun and knocked her out. He picked up her camera and looked into it, and then the episode ended.
The implications of the appearance of the Three Rings Group on Fear the Walking Dead are huge. It means they're operational over a huge area of the country, from at least the D.C. area where The Walking Dead is set, to Texas, home of Fear. We'd never actually seen them before this, so now we know for sure that their technological advancement is not just that they have a helicopter, it's also that they have high-tech uniforms. The uniforms might be more evidence that they're from the Commonwealth, a large community in the Walking Dead comics that's much further along in the process of rebuilding society than anyone we've seen on the show so far. They have a standing army whose soldiers wear high-tech uniforms.
It also opens up the possibility that characters from Fear could someday meet Rick Grimes. Al probably won't be taken to wherever Rick and Jadis went, because we see in the trailer that she eventually makes her way back to Morgan, but she's definitely going to find out some stuff about the Three Rings on our behalf. She is a journalist, after all. And she's definitely an "A," not a "B," whatever that means. But maybe Morgan will someday be able to help his old friend Rick Grimes once again. Morgan loses people and then he loses himself, while Rick finds 'em. The possibility for reunion is now open. Or we might just get some hints about where Rick Grimes will be when we find him again.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. Previous seasons are available to stream on Hulu.