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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Walking Dead comic book series.]
Robert Kirkman wanted viewers of The Walking Dead to be curious about the time jump featured at the end of the season-eight trailer released at Comic-Con. And for those questioning just how the mysterious scene featuring an elderly Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) will unspool, Kirkman said the answer will come very soon.
“I’m pretty sure you’ll learn in the first episode what that means,” Kirkman told reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour; he was there to support AMC docuseries Visionaries.
Season eight of The Walking Dead, Kirkman confirmed, will follow the All Out War arc from the comics as Rick and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) go head-to-head. In Kirkman’s comics, which the AMC drama is based on, Rick and his band of survivors jump forward in time after the war with Negan as the source material explores their vision of a brighter future.
One key point that seems to confirm the show is indeed taking on the time jump is the fact that older Rick is in need of a cane — which [spoiler alert from the comics!] his comic book counterpart needs after sustaining an injury in the fight against Negan.
“You’re supposed to be talking about that, and that is an intriguing tidbit that we did throw out there on purpose, and we’re hoping that people continue to question how it is that fits into the storyline and what it is,” said Kirkman. “Comic book fans know where a scene that looked like that would fall, but it also doesn’t seem like we would be getting to that just yet if you were a comic book fan, so there’s a mystery to that.”
As for what else to expect when the franchise returns for its landmark 100th episode, Kirkman said the upcoming eighth season would pick up its creative storytelling pace.
“We all know it’s the All Out War storyline. Season eight, we’re trying to do a more fast-paced, action-packed season really focusing on momentum,” said Kirkman. “Over the first seven seasons, we’ve set all the characters into place, and now it’s time to break them, to a certain extent.”
In season seven, several new communities — and their respective leaders — were introduced. That included King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and the Kingdom; the Hilltop with Gregory (Xander Berkeley); the so-called Heapsters and Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh); and Negan and his Saviors.
The Walking Dead “has been all about an expanding scale for the last two seasons, and that’s really hitting its pinnacle this season. We’ve got all these different factions, all these different locations — the Hilltop, the Sanctuary — and getting all these people together and continuing to expand the scale in a cool way, but really using all these pieces to their fullest,” said Kirkman. “We’ve spent a lot of time setting these characters up, and now we’re going to bash them against each other and see what happens. … This is another continuation of that; this is a very fresh take on the world of The Walking Dead, and we’re going to be breaking a lot of new ground this season.”
In terms of specific storylines, Kirkman confirmed that Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) role in Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) death is on the menu for season eight. “That will be a plot point for Daryl at some point in the next season,” he said. “It’s something that will get addressed.”
The Walking Dead returns Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
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