After months of waiting for any news of the upcoming season of The Walking Dead, the trailer released at 2017's San Diego Comic-Con promptly sent the internet into melt down when it ended with the reveal of "Old Man Rick."
Although the trailer was filled to the brim with hints about the upcoming episodes — including the start of All Out War — the image of a greying Rick with a cane at his bedside was by far the most baffling moment, and left fans scrambling to decipher what it meant. Luckily in a recent interview with EW, Andrew Lincoln (a.k.a Rick Grimes) and showrunner Scott M Gimple have not only discussed the meaning of Old Man Rick, but have also indicated when the mystery will be solved.
Given that such a large portion of the trailer was dedicated to him, it's clear that the Old Man Rick mystery will play a big role in Season 8 of #TheWalkingDead. So when exactly should we expect to see him in the upcoming season? Well, according to Andrew Lincoln it should be the very first episode! Speaking to EW, he revealed:
"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. 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."
So basically, the Season 8 premiere should give us our first look at Old Man Rick, however we'll likely still be as confused about him after his first appearance as we were after the trailer dropped. So when can we expect Old Man Rick's presence to be totally explained? According to Gimple it'll be toward the end of the year:
"I will say that we won’t know exactly what that’s about after the first episode. But we will know it about halfway through the season. We won’t quite know what it’s about, and then we'll get an answer to that about halfway through. It's something that’s going to play out."
Gimple also dispelled one of the major fan theories about Old Man Rick, trashing the idea that it was Rick waking from a coma:
"I can say that that is not him waking up from the coma in the hospital. Some people thought that, and it’s not that"
In summation: Old Man Rick isn't Rick in a coma, he'll appear multiple times in Season 8, but he won't be explained properly until around the mid-season finale. Talk about a strong hook to keep viewers watching all season!
So with the Rick-in-a-coma theory finally in the bin, the most likely theory for Old Man Rick is that we're seeing Rick after a time jump. This theory has always been the most likely answer given that it has the backing of a storyline from the comics. In fact, executive producer Greg Nicotero even hinted that Old Man Rick was evidence of the time jump from the comics, saying:
"It’s always fun to get a chance to think about where the show is going and where the characters are going,. And that’s a really big moment in the comic book when we sort of jump forward and realize what’s in store for the future."
However, although the time jump is the obvious conclusion, it always pays to remember that the TV series often deviates from the source material — and The Walking Dead writers love throwing curveballs. At this stage all we know for sure is that Old Man Rick confirms, at the very least, Rick survives All Out War, but who else survives with our favorite apocalypse survivor is yet to be determined.
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres on AMC on Sunday, October 22.
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)