“The Walking Dead” has us nervous.
Yes, Sunday’s episode had a lot of Alexandrians being shot and ended with a long-forgotten character, Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja), returning from Season 1 to hold Rick (Andrew Lincoln) at gunpoint. But let’s be real. “Walking Dead” is doing the “All Out War” storyline from the comics. Not all side characters are going to make it, and Rick is probably gonna be fine.
For another major character, it’s not looking so good ...
This all goes back to the Season 8 premiere last week, where we saw scenes with an older-looking, future Rick.
We talked to executive producer David Alpert recently about the theories that those “old Rick” moments were a dream. He said, “The idea of dreams is something that is an interesting thing to explore. Dreams deferring, dreams fulfilled.”
Alpert denied that Rick was in a coma and said the show has never done something that was “purely imaginary,” but he did bring up how “The Walking Dead” has had Rick believing he’s getting phone calls from the dead and how Morgan (Lennie James) has also had hallucinations.
“There very well may be things that sort of don’t ring entirely real,” he said.
There’s also a sign that something dark is lying underneath the surface. In one of those “future” scenes, an older Judith and very old-looking Rick discuss a sculpture of a “big owl” that the town is making for a festival.
“I’m not afraid of a big owl,” says Rick.
Well, you should be, dude, because Alpert confirmed to HuffPost that owls, which also appear in “Fear the Walking Dead,” are troubling signs.
“[Owls] seem serene and wise, but they’re actually terrifying. I feel like that, coupled with the fact that they’re creatures of the night, all those things add up ... I think there’s a lot of implication, foreboding every time I see one of those in the show.”
With all that, it seems like these sequences of future Rick could be much like the sequence featuring future Glenn (Steven Yeun) and his baby in the Season 7 premiere. In that scene, we see a vision of the survivors, including Glenn and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), gathered around a table for a meal. It’s very “Fast and the Furious.” This happy-looking vision of a lost future was shown following the deaths of Glenn and Abraham.
After the Glenn vision, we got a close-up of Rick’s teary eyes.
We get a similar-looking, unexplained close-up of Rick’s eyes in the Season 8 premiere.
Two different episodes. Same result.
So if a big death is coming, who could it be? Three candidates are clear standouts:
Morgan is already on borrowed time. At this point in the comics, he’s long gone.
In Sunday’s episode, Morgan straight up says, “I don’t die,” before his group attacks a Savior outpost. So that means he’s basically dead.
We even get a scene where it looks like he’s been shot and killed by the Saviors before later realizing he’s gonna be OK.
His plot armor is strong, for now ...
Anyone we see in the future Rick sequences, we are worried about, and one of those people is Michonne (Danai Gurira).
Thus far, Michonne has been given a lot of Andrea’s storyline from the comics. In the Season 8 premiere, she even seems to echo one of Andrea’s comic lines, telling Carl, “This is your show.”
(Spoiler alert) Andrea dies in the comics, though that doesn’t happen until after the war with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), so Michonne may still have a little time left.
And that brings us to the candidate we’re most concerned about.
Last year, there was a lot of worry that Carl could die since Chandler Riggs announced he had been accepted to college. This year it seems like it could actually happen.
Carl is also in the future Rick sequence, he was curiously absent from New York Comic-Con’s “Walking Dead” panel this year (I don’t know if that’s an indicator, but I just thought it was weird), and in the Season 8 premiere a Savior tells Rick, “Your boy’s gonna die.”
Could that line be foreshadowing?
We asked Alpert about that possibility. He told us, “I think we’ve shown time and time again that everybody’s on the table, and that we’re the type of show [where] we don’t have a problem deviating from what the comic does.”
He continued, “We had people saying, ‘Oh, if Daryl dies, we riot.’ No, it’s like we hear you. We still get people petitioning us to bring Beth [Emily Kinney] back. There are so many people that love Emily that want her back. That being said, everybody’s on the table, and where the story demands we go we’re gonna follow.”
It doesn’t help that Carl was also given a nostalgic sequence in the season premiere, recreating Rick’s opening scene on the series. Alpert told us that seeing Carl “step into the shoes of his dad” was “the heart” of the episode.
“The thing for me was really showing Carl as he’s growing up and becoming a man [...] also he’s grown up on screen,” Alpert said. “I know we talked about this a little on ‘Talking Dead,’ but it is one of those things where it’s like, yeah, he’s got long hair. He’s big. It’s kind of nuts.”
“Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman has called Carl his favorite character, so it’d be strange for the show to kill him off. But you also have to face the fact that we may soon have to say goodbye to Rick calling out, “Coral!”
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.