The Walking Dead season 7 episode 9: Why did Rick smiled at the end of ‘Rock in the Road’?

The Walking Dead returned from its mid-season break with an episode that ended on quite a shock: Rick Grimes smiled.

In the episode’s closing moments, Rick and his group were surrounded by a mysterious faction of weapon-wielding individuals and instead of panicking, Rick smiled – an emotion he has rare excuse to display in a series as gloomy as this one.

Speaking about the moment, showrunner Scott Gimple says: “That smile has a lot to do with the next episode”.

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Rick Grimes – The Walking Dead

“Rick is caught in this awful situation and you’d think somebody wouldn’t be too happy about it. But all these people aren’t just a threat; they’re an answer,” he elaborated referring to Rick’s attempts to recruit an army in his war against The Saviours.

The episode’s director Greg Nicotero added:“ He’s smiling because there’s his army. However you cut it, he’s gonna make sure that those people are on his side.”

We’re yet to discover who this group are, but keen-eyed viewers noticed a small hint in the opening scene involving Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam).

The Walking Dead airs in the US on Sundays with the episode’s UK premiere arriving the following evening on FOX.