18 key predictions for the rest of ‘The Walking Dead’ season 8

Warning: There are massive spoilers ahead if you’re not caught up on “The Walking Dead.”

“The Walking Dead” returns to TV February 25 to wrap up its eighth season, and, when it does, it’s a little unclear where the show will go.

The mid-season finale introduced its largest departure from the comics yet when Carl revealed he was fatally bitten by a zombie. His impending death will have ripple effects throughout the rest of the season.

Regardless of whether you’re frustrated with the show’s recent turn of events or are waiting with bated breath for it to return, here’s where we expect the next eight episodes to go.

View As: One Page Slides
Carl is toast.
Carl is toast.
Unfortunately, Carl’s fate was sealed on the winter mid-season finale. Gene Page/AMC
If there’s one thing we’re sure of it’s that Carl (Chandler Riggs) is going to die.

Fans were gutted when it was revealed on the mid-season finale Carl was bitten by one of the undead. Riggs then confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that his character will be killed off the series.

“Yes, Carl is going to die,” said Riggs. “There’s no way he can get back from that. His story is definitely coming to an end.”

Carl’s impending death will be a huge departure from the comics. The character is still alive in Robert Kirkman’s monthly graphic series and has essentially taken on the lead role. It will definitely change up the dynamic of the show moving forward a bit.

According to THR, Riggs has one episode of the series left — the mid-season premiere. We expect his death to come on that episode.

Carl’s going to impart some final words of wisdom to the group which will determine how the rest of the season plays out.
Carl and his father had a meaningful conversation in the mid-season finale that will surely come up again. Gene Page/AMC
If you watched the season eight mid-season finale closely, Carl was starting to set the wheels in motion with his father to make peace with Negan.

Near the start of the episode, Carl challenges Rick. He asks the point behind them fighting Negan and suggests that it’s senseless.

“We’re fighting so it’s all of us working together for something more than just killing other people,” Carl tells his father.

“You think we’re going to be out there picking strawberries with Negan?” Rick asks Carl jokingly.

“If that’s what it takes. It’s more than just hope. What are we just going to kill all of them?” Carl asks. “Finding some way forward, that’s harder. That’s something more. Dad, that’s how it’s gotta be.”

The official synopsis for the second half of the season teases that Carl will impart “lessons that the survivors around him would be wise to take with them as this war surges onward.”

What will those lessons be? We bet he’s going to want Rick to swallow his pride and make some sort of peace with Negan. Continuing the war isn’t the right answer when the dead are their real enemy.

Daryl will take over Carl’s comic role.
Daryl will take over Carl’s comic role.
Rick will need someone to lean on moving forward. Other than Michonne, his stand-in brother Daryl sounds like a good choice. Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
Daryl’s been making a lot of questionable calls. It was his decision to drive a garbage truck into the Sanctuary that led to the Saviors’ escape and the destruction of his community, Alexandria. Daryl may do something else foolish in the latter half of season eight. But with Carl on his deathbed, he may also be willing to listen to his dying words and keep a promise to Rick’s son to try and make peace with the Saviors.

Daryl doesn’t exist in the comics. Instead, Dwight is his counterpart. With Dwight still around on the show, Daryl may need a fresh story arc. With Carl out of the way, that leaves a door wide open for Daryl.

In the comics, Carl becomes rather close to Negan in the future. Could Daryl turn over the same leaf after the man had him tortured? It doesn’t sound likely, but anything seems possible at this point now that the show is going very off book.

The giant war with Negan and the Saviors will finally be finished.
The giant war with Negan and the Saviors will finally be finished.
This isn’t going to be dragged out forever. Gene Page/AMC
For those wondering when this “All Out War” story arc will be finished, good news. It won’t carry on past season eight.

“The war will absolutely be resolved by the end of season 8,” showrunner Scott Gimple told Entertainment Weekly. “Absolutely.”

Maggie will not have her baby this season.
Maggie will not have her baby this season.
Maggie’s pregnancy is in its early stages. Gene Page/AMC
Maggie has been pregnant since the latter half of season six and Gimple said you can plan on her staying that way.

“I always want to put a little ticker tape along the bottom of the episode saying how far into the apocalypse and into the pregnancy we are,” Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie, told Entertainment Weekly. “Because I’m playing newly pregnant for a really long time. But the truth of the matter is it’s only been a matter of weeks since Negan killed Glenn.”

If Maggie does wind up having her baby, I expect to see a flash-forward of some sort at the season’s very end.

Maggie may not have her baby, period.
Maggie may not have her baby, period.
Honestly, how many babies can there be thriving in the zombie apocalypse? Gene Page/AMC
We want to see Maggie have her child, but how many kids can be born healthy into the zombie apocalypse? Maggie has been told to take it easy during her pregnancy and she’s doing anything but that.

She’s on a warpath for Negan and her life is about to get a lot more stressful with over 30 Savior prisoners at the Hilltop to watch and care for.

It also seems highly convenient that Maggie is now watching over the orphan Savior baby, Grace.

Maggie will not avenge the death of her husband, Glenn.
Maggie will not avenge the death of her husband, Glenn.
Negan brutally killed Glenn, a fan favorite, at the end of season six. Gene Page / AMC
Yes, Maggie wants Negan dead, but I doubt that’s what Carl will want his father to do after his death.

Maggie and Rick may face some tough days ahead, but I expect the show to follow along with the comics in this case. What does that mean? Well, that brings us to our next prediction for the season.

Negan will wind up in the prison.
Negan will wind up in the prison.
Personally, I’m here for Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s take on the bat-wielding character. Gene Page/AMC
Remember that prison Morgan built a while back? It’s the one that we saw Dwight held in for a short bit of time. In the comics, Negan winds up being Rick’s prisoner for years down in his basement. It’s during that time that Carl gets pretty close with the character, too.

But if the show wants to be really bold, they’ll just kill Negan off since the character hasn’t been as well-received by show watchers as he is in the comics.

A potential flashback on how Negan and the Saviors actually escaped from the Sanctuary.
A potential flashback on how Negan and the Saviors actually escaped from the Sanctuary.
They were trapped in the Sanctuary by an enormous herd. We’re supposed to believe they just killed all of them? Gene Page/AMC
How did Negan and his Saviors escape the Sanctuary at the end of season eight? That question repeatedly comes up in coversation when I speak with viewers about the show.

Some fans are of the belief that we will absolutely see how they escaped a massive horde of zombies. If they don’t? They’re convinced it’s one of the biggest plot holes on the show.

Personally, I don’t think the series is going to waste time showing this. I don’t see what purpose it would serve other than to give some sort of flashback to answer (what I believe to be) a simple answer. Dwight briefly mentioned that Eugene fixed the intercom. It most likely was used to lead the zombies away to clear out the undead in the compound.

However, we did get an entire rewind of the season premiere from Negan’s point of view in the first half of season eight so anything’s possible.

Enid isn’t going to make it home in time to see her boyfriend Carl die.
Enid isn’t going to make it home in time to see her boyfriend Carl die.
Love in the apocalypse is truly dead. Gene Page/AMC
She’s a little tied up at the moment (literally) with Oceanside.

Negan won’t be the only problem on Rick’s hands.
Negan won’t be the only problem on Rick’s hands.
Aaron and Enid just upset an entire community. Gene Page/AMC
Rick may have to worry about the wrath of the Oceanside women. After all, Enid did just kill their leader. You can’t forgive too quickly for that.

While we’re not sure about how Aaron will fare, we feel pretty confident Enid will be OK. Katelyn Nacon, the actress behind the character, told us in October she hopes to see more of her character’s backstory play out, but we may have to wait for season nine to see that.

You can read our interview with Nacon here.

Those flash-forward scenes with an older Rick were probably just a “what-if” scenario.
Those flash-forward scenes with an older Rick were probably just a
There’s no way future Rick was speaking with an older Carl if he’s destined to die. AMC
We’re not saying we won’t see some version of Old Man Rick in the future. But we now know the one in the season eight premiere isn’t accurate.

In the season eight premiere, we hear Carl speaking to Rick and Michonne off screen. It might be telling that we don’t see Carl for a specific reason, but let’s be real. If Carl’s alive in that flash-forward scene that supposedly takes place years later and we know he’s leaving the show then there’s no way he can possibly be there.

That’s some alternate “what-if” scenario timeline. Otherwise, the show has some explaining to do.

Father Gabriel will die getting Dr. Carson to the Hilltop.
Father Gabriel will die getting Dr. Carson to the Hilltop.
If the show cures him and not Carl, we’re rioting. Gene Page/AMC
This may be a bit of a bold prediction, but Father Gabriel’s not doing so well.

And seeing as there’s currently no cure for the zombie virus we’re not seeing how Father Gabriel is going to stick around much longer.

You can read our interview with Seth Gilliam from the first half of season eight here.

Eugene may get in over his head.
Eugene may get in over his head.
The stresses of playing both sides and keeping secrets is taking its toll on Eugene. Gene Page/AMC
Speaking of people who only look out for themselves in the zombie apocalypse, Eugene is a giant question mark on the rest of the season. He’s afraid to backstab Negan; however, he just let Dr. Carson escape with Father Gabriel.

It will be interesting to see what Eugene will do for the rest of the season and whether or not he’ll flip sides again. The official synopsis for the second half of season eight hints that things won’t be easy for him:

“Having gifted the Saviors a major victory, Eugene’s loyalty is repeatedly tested as new obstacles present themselves.”

Will Negan discover his betrayals?

Gregory will make some shifty deal with the Saviors at the Hilltop and try to betray Maggie.
Gregory will make some shifty deal with the Saviors at the Hilltop and try to betray Maggie.
Xander Berkeley does such a good job making us love to hate Gregory. Gene Page/AMC
It just seems like a very Gregory thing to do. The guy has only been looking out for himself.

We’ll find out what the deal is with that mysterious helicopter.
We’ll find out what the deal is with that mysterious helicopter.
Was Rick seeing things or was that really a helicopter? It’s anyone’s guess at the moment. AMC
If the war with Negan is over, Rick and the gang will need a new threat for the show’s ninth season. Perhaps it was already teased earlier in the season when Rick saw that mysterious helicopter flying overhead.

You can read our roundup of what the helicopter may mean for our heroes here.

We’ll see the last of Morgan.
We’ll see the last of Morgan.
Lennie James is moving over to the show’s spin-off series. Gene Page/AMC
Lennie James announced in November that he’ll be joining the cast of the series’ spin-off, “Fear the Walking Dead.”

During an appearance on “talking Dead,” he made it sound like we won’t see him again on the original series.

“From the very first moment the whole suggestions of Morgan, my character, going over to ‘Fear the Walking Dead,’ the hardest part of it from beginning until now has been leaving ‘The Walking Dead.’ Leaving that cast, leaving that crew,” said James. “I’ve said my goodbyes to the cast and I’ve said my goodbyes to the crew.”

Does that mean he’s going to die this season on “The Walking Dead”?

Not necessarily. His character could be riding off into the sunset, but maybe we’ll see him again later on in the show. Fans will recall Morgan was on the series’ pilot and was reintroduced several times later before returning back to the show on season five for good.

Heath will not be back … yet anyway.
Heath will not be back … yet anyway.
Where is Heath? That’s anyone’s guess right now. Gene Page/AMC
Gimple told EW that we probably won’t see Heath in season eight; however, his story isn’t over just yet.

“We definitely have not seen the last of Heath, period. I will say that. I don’t mean to disappoint the Heathies. He will be on the show. He will be within ‘The Walking Dead’ again,” said Gimple.