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Season 6 of The Walking Dead played with the concept of time more so than any other season before it, stretching a two-day (or so) span out across all eight episodes, even detouring for an episode-length flashback centered on Morgan. Though the remaining episodes will play out in a far more linear manner, it looks like the narrative still has at least one more time-related gimmick to use.

In discussing how not even the impending walker herd disaster will cause Rick & Co. to flee Alexandria, a place definitely worth the long-term maintenance, star Andrew Lincoln shared this:
A lot of these concerns and questions get answered relatively quickly in the first two or three episodes of this back eight. There is a time jump, I will say, at some point. And you will see why we stay in Alexandria.

Let’s start counting off all the things he could mean about why they would stay in Alexandria. First, they might strike oil there, and Rick and Carol could become super-wealthy oil barons. Second, they might just all be too tired to do anything but lay in bed after slaughtering the thousands of walkers that will be breaching the community’s walls for the foreseeable future. Okay, so the real reasons are probably more legit.

time jump

So why would there be a time jump, particularly when there isn’t really a corresponding shift forward in the comics? Well, there’s a good chance that the midseason premiere will feature some notable deaths of major characters, as well as a plethora of rotted walkers. So after those events settle down, with all the characters handling the aftermath in different ways, it’s possible that the story gets fast-forwarded so that the show doesn’t have to show viewers the monumental efforts needed to clean up all of that nastiness. As well, maybe some people go through a mourning period that isn’t necessary to further the plot, so it’s written away like the winter months.

It’s worth noting that the comic series does indeed have a major time jump, although it takes place well past the point of the adaptation that the show is currently on. As such, we probably won’t need to worry about The Whisperers showing up soon.

Regardless of why the move forward happens, it will be a “new” Rick on the other side. Here’s what else Andrew Lincoln had to say to EW.
I think you’ll see there’s a marked change in Rick as a result of what happens in episode 9. It’s one of those watershed moments that happens. And as a result he learns something vital about being a leader. And yet again, he changes. And he develops a new way of leading. And that could be said for the back 8, in that it turns very dark.

I am absolutely down for one episode ending with Rick being one way, and the following episode kicking off with Time-Jump Rick as a completely different person, possibly with shapes cut into his beard and hair, without any explanation. We all know that no matter how Rick changes, he’s going to have the same kinds of instincts that make him the de facto leader in any given situation. Maybe Negan will change that.

The Walking Dead will return to AMC on Sunday, February 14. To see when everything else is premiering in the next few months, check out our midseason TV schedule.