In The Walking Dead 8x02, Rick Grimes discovered a now-orphaned little girl named Gracie, plucked out of a crib where her only companion was a plush rabbit — a rabbit that actually made its first appearance in the previous episode in the hands of a seemingly older Judith, during a (possibly imagined) flash forward peek into the future.
Though the end credits of episode 100 name pint-sized actress Kinsley Isla Dillon (above left) as "Six Year-Old Judith," theories nonetheless persist that Judith Grimes — actually the offspring of Rick's dead wife Lori and former best friend Shane — is actually Gracie, taken in by the Grimes clan after Rick killed her Savior father.
The pristine velveteen rabbit was left behind at the Savior outpost when Rick handed Gracie over to her temporary guardian Aaron, who volunteered to transport the baby girl to the Hilltop community — suggesting a flaw in the "future Judith is actually Gracie" theory. Someone could have gone back and claimed the rabbit off screen — or will do so in a future episode — but The Walking Dead prop master John Sanders previously told ComicBook.com the specifics of the rabbit were important.
"[Scott Gimple] wrote in the script, a velveteen rabbit," Sanders said. "I went to Etsy and I looked and there were nine different velveteen rabbits but this velveteen rabbit reminded me of my childhood. Scott's a little bit younger than me, but not much, so I showed it to him and he picked it instantly. Guess where it's made? Scotland. And we only had six days. So I called the woman and I said, 'I need ten of those rabbits!' She said, 'No.' I said, 'We're The Walking Dead!' She said, 'No.' Maybe she doesn't get that in Scotland. So, I explained it to her and how much I really wanted it and what I was gonna do with it and she got really excited. She made me two rabbits."
A new report from Scotland's The Herald spoke with that toymaker — Amy Heyworth of Ellon, Aberdeenshire — who recounted the same version of events, saying she was recruited by The Walking Dead filmmakers to produce an "emergency order" of eight of the stuffed rabbits. An initially uninterested Heyworth was swayed by Sanders, who "explained the significance of the order for the show," as told by The Herald:
"When I received the first email from John Sanders – the property Master of the show – I didn't really believe it was true and very nearly didn't reply," Heyworth said. "I had heard of the show but hadn't watched it, but have since watched all the past series and now absolutely love it."
Due to a lack of materials, Heyworth initially provided just two of the eight rabbits ahead of the deadline. Both were used, with one of the pair aged up to meet the requirements of the scene.
The existence of two specific rabbits — a rabbit for the present going-ons and a weathered rabbit for the "flash forward" scenes — implies the filmmakers were setting up at least the suggestion that "Six Year-Old Judith" could actually be an aged-up Gracie, which would make Dillon's credit as an older Judith a fake, meant to conceal her true identity as an older Gracie (who had yet to be introduced as of episode 100).
Judith met a grisly end early on in The Walking Dead comics, in an era long surpassed by the show: in Robert Kirkman's comic books, Judith and her mother Lori were gunned down and killed during the Governor's assault on the prison where Rick and his band of survivors had made their home. Because Gracie doesn't have a counterpart in the comic books, the baby has a blank slate — and it remains to be seen how she fits into the larger picture.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.