It's been almost eight years since Rick Grimes began his journey in the zombie apocalypse, and he's changed quite a bit. While once a generous and compassionate man, he's since become hardened and ruthless from countless battles and plenty of loss.
While you can hardly blame him, it does seem like Rick is only becoming more bitter with each episode. But during The Walking Dead Season 8 premiere, we saw both a harsher and softer side to the sullied sheriff.
The episode was littered with brief flash-forwards from two distinctly different time periods. One of them showed Old Man Rick making lighthearted banter with his family (including a six-year-old Judith, according to IMDb). But the other one featured a very distressed-looking Rick uttering what some believe might be his last words: "My mercy prevails over my wrath."
Rick Quotes The Quran
In case you hadn't noticed, that isn't an original Rick Grimes quote. He was quoting the stranger at the gas station, who had been paraphrasing the Quran.
At the time, Rick had approximately zero interest in showing any mercy to that guy, shooting at him to scare him off. But from the sounds of it, he may have regretted his decision, eventually realizing that he wants to be a more merciful person.
Of course, they're not exactly reassuring words from Rick when he's looking so worried. Given the lack of grey beard, it looks like this scene will take place much earlier than the other flash-forward— maybe directly after the war with the Saviors.
What Does It Mean?!
It's no secret that Andrew Lincoln prefers to be kept in the dark about the show's storyline. In fact, he doesn't read scripts until the very last minute. He does this to keep Rick's reactions as sincere as possible.
But according to Entertainment Weekly, Lincoln couldn't help but ask showrunner Scott Gimple about the meaning behind this religious quote:
"...Scott Gimple probably is a man who keeps his cards extremely close to his chest and there were several conversations where I was saying, 'I kind of need to know who I’m talking to,' or 'Is this reality?' And he was cagey. And rightly so, because it’s quite exciting. It feels like perhaps there are these variations in a future that’s being offered up perhaps. But I think that the idea is that they are intended to be abstract."
That's right: Even Lincoln had no idea if what he was acting out was reality or some kind of dream sequence. And considering he was likely keeping himself in the dark over whether they were going to win the battle against the Saviors, he was probably wondering exactly how mercy and wrath would play into their success.
We did see Gabriel reigning in Rick's wrath against Negan when he briefly refused to retreat, but we still don't know what the future holds. Is it foreshadowing a dark defeat?
While he couldn't speak to an impending victory or loss, Lincoln did allude to some changes in every single Walking Dead character following All Out War:
"We have these overarching themes sort of sprinkled in that first episode. I wouldn’t want to speak for any other character, but we have this All-Out War and these are the opening gunshots of the most action-packed season that we’ve ever attempted by far. I think you’d certainly have each character question themselves as to why they’re fighting and what would be the cost of this war."
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on Sunday, October 29.
(Credit: Entertainment Weekly)