Everyone was expecting The Walking Dead to be heartbreaking, but no one was expecting the twist we saw at the end. What did that scene with Rick under the tree at the very end mean? What are the top theories about the hidden meaning behind what we saw? This post will have major spoilers for the midseason premiere, Season 9 Episode 8 of The Walking Dead. Only read on if you’ve already seen the episode.
At the very end of the episode, after Carl died by shooting himself in the head while Michonne and Rick were sitting outside, Rick and Michonne dug Carl’s grave. But then we had another scene that was very strange. It showed Rick sitting against a tree, his eyes bloodshot. He looked injured. At first it just seemed like it was a later scene, with Rick crying after thinking about Carl’s death. But when you study it more closely, the scene appears to be later, at some point in the future. And Rick is nursing a pretty serious injury.
First, here is what Rick looked like in those scenes in the “present day,” right after Carl shot himself. You can see that Rick is wearing a slightly lighter shaded shirt.
And you’ll notice in the scenes where he’s digging the grave, his hand isn’t injured. He doesn’t have any blood in his side.
Rick is devastated, but he doesn’t have any kind of injury that he’s also dealing with, it appears.
And yet, here are photos from that scene at the very end, where he looks different. The lighting for this scene was different than the scene above, so that might account for how Rick’s shirt looks like it’s a different color. But it also might legitimately be a different shirt and a different time period. The colors appear different.
Look at the photo up close. Rick appears to have a wound in his side, and his hand might be wounded too. Or his hand got bloody from touching the wound in his gut.
Sure, this might be from carrying his son’s wounded body into the grave. But this looks more like a chest wound, similar to Carl’s, to me.
The producers are definitely leaving us to wonder if this was a scene from after he buried Carl. But because of the way it looks like Rick has a wound in his side, I’m thinking this is a future scene. Perhaps Rick is injured in the same location where Carl was bitten, and it causes him to flash back to Carl’s death. Maybe Rick is thinking about Carl as he dies himself.
The producers don’t explain it, and they’ve left us to wonder. Yes, it appears that the flash forwards were from Carl’s dream of the future, but perhaps there’s still a chance that some of it was from Rick, too. We’ve seen Rick’s bloodshot eyes all season, and now it appears those were not from the scene were Carl died, but from a scene that we still haven’t seen yet. Some fans, who still can’t deal with Carl being gone, are wanting to think this is a sign that Rick is hallucinating Carl’s death entirely. That’s probably not the case though. Carl did die, but something else major is going to go down this season too.
It appears that Rick is going to get injured in a future episode, and he might die or get close to death. And that brush with death will make him think about his son and everything he sacrificed for him. That’s the current main theory that fans are circulating, but we’ll add more theories to this story as they are developed. Let us know what you think in the comments below.