The Walking Dead Season 8 premiere marked the series 100th episode. The show did something in the series opener, "Mercy," that it had never done before: the flash-forward. You may be familiar with this plot device from shows like Lost and Westworld. While The Walking Dead has used flashbacks (mostly for character development), the narrative future time shifts have left spectators wondering, what do Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) flash-forwards mean?
The Walking Dead Season 8 premiere theories have crashed the internet. Some are more believable than others and some would be extremely disappointing if they came true. The premiere consisted of four different timelines: A bloodshot-eyed Rick flash-forward, an Old Man Rick flash-forward, a Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Rick adventure flash-forward (probably a flash-forward anyway), and the present day war with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) timeline.
Learn about the details of those timelines and what they could possibly mean moving forward. Which flash-forward theory for TWD Season 8 makes the most sense? Which fan theory stays consistent with the comics? No one has the answers yet, but here is everything we know and all the most believable and intriguing theories for this new TWD development.
First There's The Bloodshot-Eyed Rick Flash-Forward
All three of the flash-forwards along with the present day timeline are intercut throughout the premiere. One of the flash-forwards, the most disturbing one, features a sweaty, red-eyed Rick. He looks manic and upset. He kneels underneath a sheath of stained glass. There are a row of freshly dug graves at his feet.
Rick says at one point, "My mercy prevails over my wrath." That saying is from an Islamic hadith. It's also the same thing that the strange man Carl ran into was uttering while he was getting gas.
Then There's The Carl And Rick Adventure Timeline Where They Meet A New Mystery Character
Intercut alongside the Bloodshot-Eyed Rick timeline, the Old Man Rick timeline, and the present day battle against Negan's crew - there is another timeline (probably a flash-forward) which features Rick and Carl on some kind of adventure. This is the one where Carl meets the mysterious strange man (Avi Nash) while getting gas. The man is babbling a lot of nonsense, but at one point he clearly says, "My mercy prevails over my wrath."
This scene cleverly recreates the first scene from the first episode of the series. The speculation is that Nash's character is based off a character from the comics named Siddiq (and his crediting on IMDb would seem to confirm this). He is a possible survivor from the Oceanside colony, you know the one that's exclusively female. Perhaps Siddiq escaped before the Saviors killed all the men?
In this timeline's story, Rick scares the man away from Carl by firing a round of warning shots over his head. The son is disappointed in his father, as it seems that the fearless leader is losing hope in humankind. Carl makes amends to the man by leaving him two cans of food and an apology note. This timeline does not seem to be too far off in the future from the present day main narrative. All we know for sure is that we will see this mysterious man again.
The Old Man Rick Flash-Forward
Another flash-forward features Rick looking much older. We are introduced to this timeline slowly over the course of several intercut scenes throughout the episode. We see a cane and a bouquet of flowers on a night stand. Eventually we see Rick with gray/white hair and a long beard.
We also see Carl and Michonne (Danai Gurira), who look pretty much the same. The only clue we have for a more exact time jump is that Judith (Kinsley Isla Dillon) is credited on IMDb as "6-Year-Old Judith." Despite Rick's limp, everyone is very happy in this flash-forward. Weird Al's "Another One Rides the Bus" plays in the background, Judith excitedly informs her father that the townspeople have constructed a large owl for some kind of big festival that the town is throwing. It's a serene image of a normal looking family and community.
Theory One: Rick Is Never Going To Kill Negan
Rick has told Negan twice over the past few seasons that he is going to kill him. He always says it when his back is up against the wall like some day-dreamer who doesn't quite understand the heap of trouble that he is in. But despite the fact that the odds are always stacked against him, Rick's deadly promise to Negan always seemed like the obvious future.
But maybe not.
One theory is that the Bloodshot-Eyed Rick flash-forward takes place after the all out war with Negan and his crew. We know that Rick says, "My mercy prevails over my wrath," a quote from the Quran about showing mercy to an enemy. Rick also says several times throughout the main present day storyline that "it's not about me."
In the comics, Rick doesn't kill Negan. Instead, his crew and Negan's crew come together after Negan recognizes that his old way of doing things was not the right way. Rick then slashes Negan's throat without killing him and takes him prisoner.