Here are the episode titles and brief descriptions for the second half of the season, plus speculation on what it all might mean.
Episode 9 — After (airs Sunday, February 9 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC)
"Rick deals with old wounds; prison residents consider if survival will be enough."
Thoughts: This one we kinda feel like we have a handle on. It’s written by comic book writer Robert Kirkman and directed by Greg Nicotero and it’s going to come almost straight from the comic books. The action should focus mostly on what Michonne (Danai Gurira), Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) do after the prison battle. The heavily injured Rick and his son Carl are together and Michonne is presumably alone, although she apparently has some new walker friends. We should learn more about Michonne’s past this episode, but mostly follow Carl as he takes charge. Update: Here's a full play-by-play recap of Episode 9.
Episode 10 — Inmates (February 16)
“In the quest for stability and safety, the group faces many obstacles.”
Thoughts: What a wonderfully vague description! Tricia Brock directed this episode and a while back she teased that it would feature four different storylines and "some of the oddest couplings of groups you've seen" on the show. "There was violence, difficulty in dealing with one another, terror,” she added. “It's a very intimate episode. We see how these very odd groups were thrown together and how they deal with that." Nice. So we’re expecting this episode to cover four other post-prison groups, maybe Daryl/Beth, Glenn and the bus people, Maggie/Sasha/Bob, Tyreese and the kids? Or some other combination. Plus, based on a casting notice from last year, we’re expecting these three new characters from the comic to pop up, possibly in this very episode: Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos), and Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt). Update: Here's a full play-by-play recap of Episode 10.
Episode 11 — Claimed (February 23)
"A number of immediate threats plague Rick; group members deal with their past."
Thoughts: OK, so this episode brings us back to Rick, who may not even have a role in Episode 10 since we could be spending all of it with the other Team Prison people. This one might be a more traditional mix of everyone. But what are the immediate threats? Maybe that's a reference to the three new characters? Or just walker threats? And who is dealing with their past? Another Michonne reference, to her past, or maybe Bob Stookey (Larry Gilliard Jr.) and his past as an alcoholic and the sole survivor of his past two groups, which still makes us a bit nervous? Or maybe it's a reference to Tara, who was seen in a promo for the second half. If she tries to join a Team Prison group, she's going to have some 'splainin' to do for her role in destroying their home. Interesting title. These titles are short, sweet and really not giving us anything. Update: Here's a full play-by-play recap of Episode 11.
Episode 12 — Still (March 2)
"An enlightening mission springs from a request from one of the group members."
Thoughts: Enlightening mission! That sounds good. Perhaps this is tied to Eugene in the comics? He's the scientist who claimed to have answers on how the zombie plague started; he, Abraham and Rosita were on their way to Washington, D.C. to connect with others in the know. In the books, our former Team Prison group goes with them. Maybe they do something similar on TV, with the mission being to get answers on what's happening in the world at large. Or maybe this is tied to that "sanctuary" radio tease, and they try to figure what that's about? Update: Here's a full play-by-play of Episode 12.
Episode 13 — Alone (March 9)
"One group finds a shelter; a group has a realization about protection."
Thoughts: Another depressing title, but at least it sounds like good news for one group. You notice we're still separated in some way at this point. Good luck to that group — maybe it's Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and the kids (with Carol?). What's the other group's realization about protection, though? They don't have enough? The way they get it is too extreme? Update: Here's a play-by-play recap of Episode 13. It looks like it might just follow Maggie/Sasha/Bob and Beth & Daryl again.
Episode 14 — The Grove (March 16)
"After establishing a new shelter, the group considers things returning to they way they used to be."
Thoughts: Ah, but Rick has been warning us in the promos that things will never get back to the way they used to be. Still, who is in this group, do you think? We'll have a much better idea once the second half begins, but ... it sounds good, but maybe too good to be true. Robert Kirkman said the first half would start "bleak" and be "more hopeful" by the end, but this is only Episode 14 so it may be too soon to be optimistic. Update: Here's a play-by-play recap of Episode 14. Yikes.
Episode 15 — Us (March 23)
"Survivors rely on brutality and faith."
Thoughts: Brutality? Is this connected to the realization about protection? Or ... are we meeting The Hunters around now? The penultimate episode of the season has a history of being particularly tough. Think Shane vs. Rick on Season 2 and Merle going the way of the walker on Season 3. David S. Goyer directed Season 4, Episode 15, "Us," and over the summer he teased some action to i09: "I'm doing a Walking Dead this year — the penultimate episode [of the season]. I haven't gotten my script yet... I heard it's an episode where something really bad happens." Update: Here's a play-by-play recap of Episode 15. Nothing too bad happened and David Goyer didn't even end up directing this one. It was a hopeful ep, but with hints of bad stuff to come for Rick.
Episode 16 — A (March 30)
"Many paths collide; Rick faces sheer brutality; the group struggles to survive."
Thoughts: This is the season finale! Many paths collide suggests group members may finally reunite. Maybe we see Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) back in the mix at this point, and possibly Morgan Jones, since Lennie James is now credited as part of this ep. (Although showrunner Scott Gimple said he was misquoted back at Comic Con when he supposedly said Morgan would return this season.) Rick faces brutality, though. The Hunters? Does he lose a limb?! Don’t forget the rumor that this actress was cast for an Episode 16 role, possibly as one of The Hunters. A while back, Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) said this would be a "very ambitious" episode, adding "they went big with it." The title is interesting; an AMC exec recently teased, "We know where this season ends, which is not unlike when we got to the prison — it’s a glimpse of what Season 5 will be." Maybe this "A" refers to the Alexandria Safe-Zone, a place the group does end up in the comics? We’ll have to keep an eye on this one. Poor Rick! Why can’t that man ever catch a break? UPDATE: Here's a full play-by-play recap of Episode 16. Wow!
• Don't forget that we're supposed to meet a new character named Gareth (Andrew J. West), who is meant to be a remix of a comic book character. We've been eyeing him as possibly a version of Chris, leader of The Hunters, a cannibal group from the books, but it's possible he's TV's take on Father Gabriel Stokes.
• We’re also supposed to get more intel on that “sanctuary” radio tease, as well as answers about the rats at the prison fence and that creepy dissection.
• Also, Daryl is meant to get at least one focused episode in the second half, and it’s supposed to be “magnificent.” Which ep is “his,” do you think?
• When will Carol return, and maybe hook up with Tyreese and the kids?
• And who will die? There was that spoiler about a major character from the comics dying, so maybe it’s Maggie or Michonne or … maybe Carl or Rick? And how in the world is baby Judith going to survive all this running and hiding and lack of food? Is she not going to make it?
What do these episode titles and descriptions tell you? What theories or questions do you have? Share, please!