If you have not gotten the chance to watch episode 8 or season 8 of the Walking Dead, click off now, because there is major disappointment incoming.
Dear Scott Gimple, we have a problem.
I’m not going to tell you to rewrite the show, or anything ridiculous like that. It has already been done, and the nail is in the coffin which awaits burial. Carl is Dead, and there is nothing you can do about it. All the scenes were shot and finalized and I have already accepted that the show is screwed beyond belief.
A Disappointed Viewer
I have sat through the butchering of numerous characters time after time, I have sat through the repeated “Arcs” (could you call them arcs if they’re really hills?) of the fan favorite Daryl Dixon, I have trudged anxiously through Negan’s war with Rick, and for what? To have Carl Grimes of all characters die?
Don’t get me wrong at all, he went out like a total hero! I was very proud of Carl for taking leadership, but that was when I knew something was wrong. Asking Negan to kill him, asking for death, saying he was already dying- I should have expected it. But how could I, when so much was relying on Carl being the last survivor?
Carl’s storyline is a vital part of the plot of the comics during the Whisper War and A Whole New Beginning. He is the reason the readers know about what’s going on on the inside of a lot of scenarios. Granted, he doesn’t have much page time now due to his own work, but he did before.
It was Carl who played an important part in Negan’s redemption arc, which is quite frankly the most entertaining part of the series at this point. He was the one who broke the rules to go see Negan down in the cellar. The reason this was so key to Negan’s character, and so important to have Carl in this spot, is because of the earned respect Negan had for Carl. Carl was his equal despite his age, and saw Carl as mature, and to have Negan look at anyone else in such a way would not make sense at this point in the story. Negan and Carl already have that bond in the show, and it was ripped away, no doubt for a half done story arc thrown on a character, who I would put money onto be Daryl. Show Carl never got his big arc, this was his big arc, and because he is dead, it’s a perfectly good waste of a buildable, strong, capable character. Carl’s big arc was telling Negan to kill him, and that’s it.
Carl also played a key part in the whisper war with his relationship with Lydia, which is a major window into the world of the Whisperers. Lydia is a new love interest for Carl who I was not all too fond of, but their relationship made sense. It was real! Carl was a teenaged boy, and she was an experienced teenaged girl who needed to be saved from her twisted family. I have seen speculations and fan theories that they may replace Carl with Enid in the show, and while I am not opposed to Enid and Lydia romance- it was Carl coming into his own skin. It was him growing, and being rebellious that sparked more altercation between the whisperers than there had been. That was part of his development ripped away.
Rick spent the entire series trying to protect Carl, building a world for him, trying to pave the way for him. Carl was always his kryptonite, even in this war they are in but it seems as if that was just a cheap shot now. Rick didn’t care that his son was about to be beaten with a bat, but he cared when his arm was nearly cut off. For a couple of blood family members, Rick and Carl rarely even had screen time this season. Let’s just come out and say it, the writing of this season and last season was awful! And to prove it, count how many minutes we have of Rick with Michonne, and count the minutes with Carl. Rick has been so infatuated with his new love interest that his son’s presence paled in comparison- that isn’t the bond we know. And then to kill off his son in the first episode he demonstrates leadership skills, saves people’s lives, the first episode he has his heart to heart with his father- it’s lazy writing. Was the point of it to make us as viewers feel bad because Rick didn’t spend much time with him? Because truthfully, I’m just angered at the injustice it did to both characters.
And let’s not forget the lack of respect to a growing actor. What sense is it to promise an actor- a kid no less, a kid with his future postponed for a show, that he would have three more years at least. It was promised to Chandler Riggs that he would have three more years, and Riggs even discussed his excitement to portray one of Carl’s more iconic storylines. This kid took a gap year between college in order to focus on the show that I have no doubt the showrunners planned months before, maybe years, and could not do him the favor of letting him know where his role was going in the show. The disrespect we have here for an actor who chose this show over going straight into university is appalling, and he deserved much better; especially after the performance he gave in that scene with Negan (you know the one, 8x08).
I am fully aware of how the show will deviate from comics from time to time, and I am fully prepared- but if you know for certain you are going to kill off a character, if you have plans to kill off a character in some way, why would you give them such a major story arc as Carl? Or was this a split second decision on showrunner’s part? Neither of these scenarios is a good one, mind you.
Of all the other choices, of all the routes that could have been taken for shock value, they chose the one character who was suppose to carry on the legacy. Michonne, who is taking Andrea show slot, could have died. Daryl, who did not exist in the comics, could have died. Carol, who had killed herself at the prison in the comics, could have died and it would have been a major character death. They had every reason to kill off a main character that wasn’t Carl Grimes, but they took him out without reason.
Dear, The Walking Dead, take this from someone not easily upset over character deaths. I will continue to watch to see how this pans out, but this show is seriously screwed without Carl Grimes. Congratulations.