Considering The Walking Dead’s reverence for the comics, fans weren’t entirely surprised Season 8 might tease a certain time-jump ahead. The trailer seemed to suggest as much, but star Andrew Lincoln cryptically hints “It’s an older Rick … that means that it’s in the future.”

You’re warned of some minor comic and Season 8 spoilers from here on out, but the trailer’s closing images of a grey and bearded Rick seemed to confirm the comic’s post-“All Out War” time-jump of several years, in which Rick changes up his appearance to avoid attention. More surprising was that producers confirmed the October 22 premiere would provide some early context for the trailer scene, but Lincoln cast a little ambiguity around the time-jump in conversation with Entertainment Weekly:

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 … 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.

It would certainly be bold of The Walking Dead to confirm a positive outcome of Season 8’s war with Negan so early on, but it’s equally possible the scene is revealed as a dream sequence, or fantasy of some sort. Back in April, showrunner Scott Gimple seemed to doubt the likelihood of using the time-jump, instead suggesting “we might see some of that stuff; it might not be the same sort of jump, or we’ll do that two to five years in real time.”

We’ll see if the October premiere fully answers all our questions (or perhaps adopts LOST-style flash-forwards), so stay tuned for the latest on The Walking Dead Season 8.

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