The Walking Dead Season 8: Andrew Lincoln Talks Old Man Rick

The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln discusses the Season 8 trailer twist and what it means for the future of the series.

Warning: Potential SPOILERS for The Walking Dead Season 8.

The Walking Dead is readying a Season 8 return that will thrust our favorite survivors into the thick of the long-anticipated “All Out War” between the groups of Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan and his apocalyptic plunderers the Saviors. However, that conflict was hardly the most notable part of the Season 8 Comic-Con trailer, which hinted a tremendous time-jumping twist. Now, Andrew Lincoln is addressing this most intriguing tease.

The trailer tease in question seemingly answers the long-asked question of whether The Walking Dead TV series would follow suit with Robert Kirkman’s comic book series and engage in a post-All Out War time-jump. Speaking to EW, Andrew Lincoln himself gives a take on the teaser twist, stating:

“I was shocked and kind of excited by it. My instinct was, what a great storytelling device. That was my instinct. I thought it was very interesting, and also gives us an opportunity to do something else a little ahead of the game, which I think is very, very neat.” Adding, “I mean, it’s a gray Rick. It’s an older Rick. So, by virtue of the fact that you see, that means that it’s in the future.

The Comic-Con trailer for The Walking Dead Season 8 showcased the conflagration ahead before shifting to a hazy epilogue showing a grizzled, grayer Rick Grimes waking up in bed, with a notable visual shift to a walking cane lying by his bedside. This is a huge deal to fans of the comic book source material, since the “All Out War” storyline culminates in a one-on-one battle between Rick and Negan in which Rick emerges victorious, but not before Negan grievously injures Rick’s leg. The subsequent issue (#127, released in May 2014,) jumps ahead two years, showing a worn, cane-walking Rick as a legendary leading figure of a thriving alliance of communities between Alexandria, Hilltop and, yes, even the Saviors. Possibly covering his bases, Lincoln further comments:

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“It will become somewhat clearer after the October premiere. Then again, it may not be. It maybe still is somewhat opaque. I think that that’s possibly all I can say on the matter.”

Consequently, The Walking Dead possibly telegraphed Season 8’s “All Out War” outcome months before it even premiered. However, the series has been known to utilize hallucinations and dream sequences and the teased image of “Old Man Rick” could simply be a clever ruse on the part of the showrunners to troll comic-book-savvy speculators. Indeed, while Lincoln’s comments seemingly cement the idea of the time jump, his language is also vague enough about the context of what we’re seeing to be open to interpretation. Indeed, it might even end up being a Lost-inspired mental trip through time for Rick, seeing the extent of what he could accomplish.

Nevertheless, the parallel between the teaser scene and the 2010 pilot episode’s iconic sequence in which Rick awakens from his coma is hard to miss. If, indeed, The Walking Dead does go through with the time twist (presumably setting up Season 9,) we can probably expect the jump to be further reaching, since the timeline of the seven-year-running TV show – out of obvious necessity – operates more in sync with our passage of time, especially as the actors (notably child star Chandler Riggs,) continue to age. Thus, the idea of an “Old Man Rick” would make more sense that way, rather than if only two years had passed as in the comics.

The Walking Dead gets ready for a fantastic fusillade of apocalyptic action between respective makeshift militia generals Rick Grimes and Negan when Season 8 premieres on AMC on Sunday, October 22, 2017.

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