The Walking Dead released its Season 8 trailer during its panel at San Diego Comic-Con Friday, and for its first four-and-a-half(!!!) minutes it's a standard if refreshingly fun Walking Dead trailer, with dope zombie action and motivational speeches and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) riding around on his motorcycle blowing up gas tanks with a handgun.
But then there's a fade to black (we're at a place in American culture where even trailers can have post-credits sequences). The picture comes back on a cane handle, like one belonging to an elderly person. The light is soft and blurry, and moody piano and cello music plays. We look at some flowers, and then Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) comes into focus. He's laying in bed on his back, and he's old and gray and has a long beard. WHAAAAAT?
It calls to mind the scene in the series premiere, when Rick wakes up from his coma to find dead flowers on his nightstand and the world as he knew it dead and gone. This new scene could be setting up a similar change to come, perhaps a future in which Rick is successful in building a peaceful colony, if the healthy flowers and maudlin tone are indicators.
Or maybe it's a fantasy like the one Rick had when Negan was torturing him in the Season 7 premiere, when he imagined a loving family dinner where everyone was happy and Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) were still alive. In this case, the maudlinness is ironic, and something terrible is happening to Rick.
Or maybe it's previewing a turn of events that comics fans know well. After the "All Out War" storyline, which Season 8 will follow, there's a time-jump of several years into the aftermath of the war between Alexandria and the Saviors. This could be teasing that. Rick seems pretty old, though. Maybe the war stresses him out so much that he goes entirely gray really fast? At least he's alive.
Hopefully whatever this is will be explained when The Walking Dead returns on Sunday, Oct. 22 on AMC.