The longer answer requires some more context. Back in October, the eighth season kicked off with a flash forward to a moment that is very recognizable to readers of The Walking Dead comic books. In the comics, there’s a huge time jump after the events of the All Out War that sees a hobbled Rick walking with a cane. It sees a time two to four years following the All Out War after a peace has settled upon Alexandria, which has been rebuilt. It’s a well-known scene, so when comic readers saw it on the series, we thought we knew exactly what was happening. The series was prepping us for a time jump. Scott Gimple even alerted us to the fact that answers about that time jump would be given around episode eight or nine.
In this week’s midseason finale, we finally got answers. We learned, foremost, that the time jump may not actually arrive on the series at all because we now know that the scene that signaled the time jump in the comics was only a dream on the television series, a vision of the future that Carl had before he died. Gimple trolled comic viewers. He baited us with a scene from the comics and transformed it into a hallucination. It also means that any fan theory the Internet conjured up about the future of the series based on those flash-forwards is now moot. The owl statue that Judith saw in the flash-forward, which was supposed to signal the arrival of the Whisperers? Poof. A hallucination.