Credit: AMC

The season 8 trailer for The Walking Dead bristled with all sorts of resistance-is-rising energy, but the very last moment was truly a conversation starter, if not a shocker: We saw Rick as an older man in bed, rocking a grey beard, with a cane nearby.

This indicated that the upcoming season will mirror a time jump that occurs in The Walking Dead comic book. Speaking with reporters after an AMC panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Saturday, The Walking Dead executive producer Robert Kirkman revealed that old man Rick will be addressed in the very first episode back.

Asked about the time jump, Kirkman first teased: “Or was it the time jump? I don’t know, maybe it was Rick waking up from his coma. Wouldn’t that be weird?” He hinted that the timing of this reveal should throw The Walking Dead comic book fans for a loop: “That is an intriguing tidbit that we did throw out there on purpose, and we’re hoping that people continue to question how it is that fits into the story line and what it is,” he said. “Comic book fans know where a scene that kind of looked like that would fall, but it also doesn’t seem like we would be getting to that just yet if you were a comic book fan, so there’s a mystery to that.”

As for whether audiences will learn more this season about what the Rick image means, Kirkman replied, “I’m pretty sure you’ll learn in the first episode what that means.”

The upcoming batch of episodes will show viewers what happened now that Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom have joined forces to take down Negan and the Saviors, and an epic battle is on the horizon. “We all know it’s the All Out War storyline, so season 8 we’re trying to do a more fast-paced season, a more action-packed season, really focusing on momentum and we feel like, over the first seven seasons, we’ve set all the characters into place. Now it’s time to break them, to a certain extent,” Kirkman teased

How will this season keep the show fresh as it enters season 8? “We’ve got all these different factions, all these different locations, we’ve got the Hilltop, we’ve got the Sanctuary, and I think [we’re] getting all these people together and continuing to expand the scale in a cool way, but really using all these pieces to their fullest,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time setting these characters up, and now we’re going to bash them against each other and see what happens. One of the things that really keeps The Walking Dead going is that every season feels like a different show. As we start to show more promotional material, and as you guys get to see episodes, you’ll see this is another continuation of that, this is a very fresh take on the world of The Walking Dead, and we’re going to be breaking a lot of new ground this season.”

The season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead airs Oct. 22; to see Rick in all of his aged glory, the first trailer can be seen right here

Reporting by Natalie Abrams

Episode Recaps

The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

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