The Walking Dead just went to places it never has before with its Season 8 premiere: the future.
Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8 premiere follow.
Throughout Episode 100, The Walking Dead sprinkled various timelines across its hour long broadcast. While the show has scarcely used flashbacks in the past, this was the first time the AMC series executed a flash-foward sequence. In fact, there was more than one. According to executive producer and director of the Season 8 premiere Greg Nicotero, there were four.
"I counted four," Nicotero told ComicBook.com. "They aren't just one-off visuals. The way that Scott [Gimple] and the writers like to unfold these stories is really to give the audience an opportunity to put the clues together for themselves. Sometimes you'll just get one or two shots of something, and then another episode or two later, you'll get another shot. And you start putting it together."
From the perspective of only having seen the first episode of Season 8, the timelines appear to range from the present all the way to almost five years in the future.
The predominant and current timeline followed Rick and his army as they marched to Negan's door step, unleashing their rage on the Sanctuary and finally launching the All Out War story. It came full circle at the end of the episode when the Sheriff delivered the end of his speech and fired his gun in the air, proclaiming victory over the Saviors regardless of what happens.
The second timeline sees Rick and Carl on an adventure together in a sequence which recreates the first scene from the first episode before introducing a mysterious new character played by Avi Nash. This timeline appears to be the closest to the present, though is still somewhere in the future.
The next timeline sees Rick worn down, possibly having won the war against Negan, but not before it took his toll on him physically. However, it may have revealed his merciful mental state as the character promises himself, "My mercy prevailed over my wrath." The moment might be indicative of Negan's fate post-war.
Finally, the Old Man Rick sequences appear to be about four to five years into the future. The clues such as Judith's appearance and her walking and talking skills, paired with the thoroughly developed appearance of Alexandria outside of Rick's front door indicate as much. Rick actor Andrew Lincoln shared his perspective of the Old Man Rick sequence while speaking to ComicBook.com, possibly revealing Judith's age.
"It looks to be four to five years," Lincoln said. "The problem is, Rick seems to have aged in dog years. He's had the rough ride of it. He hasn't aged as well as Michonne, shall we say. One might say, 'He aged on behalf of Michonne.' Who knows? The years haven't been favorable to Mr. Grimes!"