'It's an older Rick,' says the star, 'so that means that it's in the future'

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Fans gasped when they saw the final moments of The Walking Dead’s season 8 trailer at San Diego Comic-Con, and they weren’t the only ones. Andrew Lincoln was also taken aback when he was first told about the scene, which appeared to show an old and grizzled version of Rick Grimes.

The scene, which also included a cane positioned next to Rick’s bed, seemed to mirror an important moment from the comic book, and if you don’t want to know about it, you should probably look away right now. And yes, this counts as your official SPOILER ALERT.

Credit: AMC

In issue #127 of The Walking Dead comic book, it is revealed that a two-year time jump has occurred after the war with Negan, and Rick has a new look and a battle scar from that war in the form of an injured leg. But again, that happens after the war with Negan, a war that only just kicked off on TV in the season 7 finale. So to do that time jump now, just as the war is starting, would not seem to make sense.

Only time — and season 8, which premieres Oct. 22 — will tell whether the TV adaptation is going ahead with some sort of flash-forward strategy to show current and future events at the same time – similar to the Lost flash-forwards that began in the “Through the Looking Glass” episode. But whether the show is either going early to the time jump or purposefully misdirecting the audience by doing something else entirely, it serves as the latest reminder that showrunner Scott M. Gimple and his team are never content to play it safe, even surprising their star.

“I was shocked and kind of excited by it,” says Lincoln of when he first found out about the twist. “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.”

Of course, Lincoln won’t confirm that it is the time-jump from the comics, even if he admits to certain visual clues. “I mean, it’s a gray Rick,” he says. “It’s an older Rick. So by virtue of the fact that you see, that means that it’s in the future.”

But when in the future? And is it a real future or another dream sequence like the Glenn and Abraham feast in last year’s season premiere? “It will become somewhat clearer after the October premiere,” says Lincoln. “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.”

Ah, but what do you have to say on the matter? What do you think the Old Man Rick scene means? Share your theories below and make sure to check out our big Walking Dead cover next week. And for more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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The Walking Dead

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

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