What did the mysterious scene with Rick Grimes mean at the end of The Walking Dead season 8 trailer?
AMC has revealed the first official trailer for season 8 of The Walking Dead, which ended with a sequence showing Rick Grimes waking up in a bed, significantly aged, a cane resting nearby. While this is likely very confusing for many viewers, readers of the comic series may have a good indication of what this scene implies. Though this article is mostly speculation, those of you who wish to remain unspoiled for the upcoming season or details from the comics, we suggest you stop reading here and try waiting patiently to find out what it all means when the series returns this October. Comic spoilers and potential series spoilers below.
You may have noticed that the scene in question is very similar to one from the pilot episode, when Rick first wakes up in his hospital bed to find that the world has gone to hell. The lighting, imagery, and even the flowers by the bedside are all very similar. As many of you surely know, there’s been a rather popular theory circulating for many years which suggests that Rick has actually remained in a coma all this time, and everything we’ve experienced along with him has merely been a coma-induced dream. Some fans are speculating that the scene from the trailer is a flashforward of sorts, indicating that we’re seeing him waking from said coma here.
The coma theory is so popular, in fact, that creator Robert Kirkman has gone on record declaring that the series is not a dream sequence, and that the events of The Walking Dead are in fact happening. Though Kirkman is known for being misleading in regard to his creation, even going so far as to lie to get the comic series published, denying the coma theory is something he’s reiterated in numerous interviews over the years, and this is one instance in which I believe him.
While the theory itself is not entirely implausible, it’s certainly very unlikely. Were this to be the final season, I might be more inclined to buy into it. However, the producers have stated on more than one occasion that they have no plans to end the series anytime soon. Showrunner Scott M. Gimple even stated that they would like to keep the show going for 20 plus years, even going so far as to say they’d like to rival The Simpsons. That in and of itself makes the theory very improbable.
Moreover, we can’t discount the fact that Rick may not even survive until the end of the series. Kirkman only recently discussed this very topic at SDCC 2017, and went on to say that there’s more story to tell after Rick’s ultimate demise. Now, all of that being said, where does that put us in regard to that ambiguous scene at the end of the season 8 trailer? Let’s take a look to the comics for the biggest clue. The most important thing to bear in mind here is the presence of the cane, and how long the camera lingered on that particular item, as it’s extremely important. More on that in a moment.
The series more or less follows the comics, though they remix certain things and add some of their own content to shake things up. They do, however, hit most of the key points from the source material. During the comic arc titled All Out War, which is where the story is heading for the upcoming season, Rick’s group joins forces with other communities to take down Negan and the Saviors once and for all. How that ended, well I’ll let you watch the series to find that out, though I’ll say that it’s probably not like you’d expect (and there’s already a major clue on the show indicating they plan to end it similarly on the series). I will say that what came afterward is a major indication of what’s going on in the scene in question, and that is A New Beginning.
We’re about to get our first major time jump. Now, Rick looks as though he’s aged more than I would have expected, but I was also surprised at the dramatic changes in him in the comics as well. The time jump in the comic series was two years, though there’s no saying for sure that they’ll used the same time frame within the show. You may be wondering what caused him to age so drastically in a relatively short amount of time, and the answer is that the culmination of All Out War leaves him in a very different state than what we’re accustomed to. So expect the events that unfold in the upcoming season to get rather intense.
Rick will suffer an injury that he’s unable to fully recover from, leaving him to require the use of a cane, which as I mentioned above was very pointedly shown during the mysterious scene (and no, it’s not that injury from the comics, the producers have been declaring for years that Rick’s hand is safe…though maybe they’ll reimagine it for the show, it’s unlikely but not completely out of the question). This leaves him at a physical disadvantage and forces him to take a less active role in the community, opting for a more behind the scenes approach at leadership. Though this probably won’t happen very early on in the season, because The Walking Dead likes to drag things out, it’s seems fairly certain that the inclusion of this scene in the trailer means they’re adapting this arc for the series.
My best guess as to when we may expect this to transpire on the show is when it returns from its mid-season hiatus. Though I’d be pleasantly surprised if they threw it at us sooner, as the series is in dire need of a shake up. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, this is speculation on my part from piecing together details from the comics and connecting them to the mystery scene at the end of the trailer. I’m open to being wrong, and will readily admit it should that turn out to be the case.
There’s also a much simpler explanation for the sequence, which is that it’s merely a dream or hallucination. Though that’s entirely possible, and would arguably fit with sequences they’ve done in the past, I feel the inclusion of the can makes it more likely that we’re getting the time jump. For now I feel pretty confident that this is the course the series is taking, and I for one am curious to see how it plays out. Which story adaptation are you more excited for, All Out War or A New Beginning?
Image credits: AMC, Image, Skybound, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard