The Walking Dead has been teasing fans with a helicopter since early in Season 8, when Rick looked up into the sky and saw a chopper flying overhead. Later in Season 8 we learned that head Heapster Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) had some sort of relationship with the helicopter people and was going to turn Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) over to them after she took him prisoner, but the hand-off was never made and the chopper flew away before we found out who was in it, where they were from and what the nature of their deal with Jadis was. We finally saw the chopper again in Episode 2 of Season 9, and now Episode 3, "Warning Signs," has put us right on the brink of finding out the full story of the helicopter. And the helicopter mystery may very well be setting up Rick Grimes' (Andrew Lincoln) exit.
In the time-jumped ninth season, Jadis now goes by Anne and lives in Alexandria, but she doesn't feel like she belongs. People are still suspicious of her, and when Saviors start going missing, even Rick thinks it's possible she's exacting revenge on the people who massacred her Heapsters. The only person she's close to is Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), with whom she started a sexual relationship in Episode 2 (which is a little ironic, since Gabriel discovered the Heapsters when they kidnapped him). And she ruined that budding relationship in Episode 3, because she's going to finish what she started back when she abducted Gabe the first time and give him away to the chopper people.
In "Warning Signs," Jadis goes back to the Heap and finds the radio she used to communicate with the chopper people. "It's Jadis," she says. "I know you're in range, I saw the helicopter last night."
"What do you have, an A or a B?" the man on the other end responds.
"Is it you? Did you take them?" she asks, wondering if the chopper people are scooping up Saviors.
"No pickups, but the deal still stands," he says. He asks again if she has an A or a B, whatever that means. She says she's paid her share, and he says she's been compensated. She asks what it will take — presumably to satisfy whatever terms of the deal are still outstanding — and he answers "an A." She accepts this, and says she'll deliver tomorrow.
Just then, Gabriel steps out and reveals that he's followed her there, and asks who she was talking to and what she did. "Bad things," she answers. "But not this." He asks if she traded people, and she says yes. For supplies for her people. That's what she was going to do with him and Rick when she captured them in Seasons 7 and 8, respectively (and with Negan, which Gabriel doesn't know about. There's still some secret agreement between Negan and Jadis relating to why she let him go). She says it went further than she meant it to. She says that in Alexandria, people suspect her. She's still an outsider. But she and Gabriel can go to "another place" far away where they can start over. He just can't tell anyone and has to help her with "one small part of the deal," which sounds pretty ominous. He says he can't do it. Gabriel used to be an untrusted outsider just like her, but he's not anymore. He has to tell Rick what she's up to. But she's not going to let him.
"And all this time I thought you were a B," she says, and then clonks him on the head and knocks him out.
So, very soon — probably within the next two episodes — we're going to find out exactly what's been going on with Jadis and the helicopter. That means we'll also likely find out what makes a person an A or a B, but more importantly, we'll know where the chopper people are from and what they want. They're probably not from the Commonwealth, an important location from the comics, because the Commonwealth is located in Toledo, Ohio, and there's a sign in the bridge camp pointing toward Toledo, which means they already know about the Commonwealth. Instead, that seems to be where Georgie (Jayne Atkinson) is from, and where Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is probably headed to learn more about building a medieval society. The chopper people seem to be from somewhere we don't know about yet.
Perhaps most importantly, though, this could be how Rick Grimes exits. Andrew Lincoln's final episode is confirmed to be Episode 5, so the helicopter reveal is timed suspiciously close to that. There's circumstantial evidence, like Rick having already seen the helicopter and the chopper's placement by Rick's head in the key art. And though we may not know what an "A" is, Rick definitely is one, so working out some kind of deal for him to go in place of Gabriel doesn't seem impossible. On the other hand, it would be unlike Rick to leave his family of Judith and Michonne (Danai Gurira) and a hinted at potential future baby behind. And no offense to Seth Gilliam, who was part of one of the best scenes on the best show in TV history, but getting rid of Rick to spare Father Gabriel doesn't seem like a fair trade. So we'll see. We don't even know if Rick is going to survive.
Also, do you think Jadis gave Heath (Corey Hawkins) to the chopper people? She says she's given them people already, and that would explain why he apparently disappeared into thin air back in Season 7.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.