Hidden in the final moments of The Walking Dead's Mid-Season Eight premiere was a potentially major spoiler for the All Out War story' conclusion.
Spoilers for The Walking Dead Episode 8x09, Honor, and possibly future episodes follow!
Following the moments which saw Rick Grimes burying his only son Carl in the Alexandria Safe-Zone, a cut brought him and audiences to another time and place. Somewhere, in the future, Rick sat by a tree with a worn down look about him and a hand covered in blood. "My mercy prevailed over my wrath," Rick whispers to himself, just as he did in the flash-forward scene from the Season Eight premiere in the same time and place. The premiere episode's version of the scene, however, did not reveal the extra details like the blood and wider shot of the location.
This moment may serve as an indication of how the war between Rick and Negan will play out and it seems to line up with The Walking Dead comics.
To end the All Out War story in Robert Kirkman's source material, Rick Grimes has a clear shot a Negan's throat with a knife but elects not kill the villain. The two duke it out on a battlefield but Negan ends up with a cut on his throat which is only threatening if left untreated. Rick suffers a broken a leg but comes away a winner. There is no sign of a broken leg in the closing shot of The Walking dead Episode 8x09 but the blood on Rick's hand might just be Negan's, as his "mercy prevailed over my wrath," dialogue indicates he has spared his enemy.
Fear not, Negan haters. Rick does not simply set Negan free in The Walking Dead comics. He tosses the villain and jail and uses him as a symbol to the rest of the world which might challenge him of what he and Alexandria have become. It's a sign of civilization being rebuilt and finding ways to provide a future without killing anyone and everyone who disagrees with Alexandria's way of life.
It is exactly what Carl asked for with his last words.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET on AMC. Fear the Walking Dead will debut its fourth season after The Walking Dead concludes its eighth, at 10 pm ET on April 15. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.