AMC’s The Walking Dead (TWD) needed a shakeup. Plots have been stagnant, characters are repeating the same arcs from previous seasons, and what arguably should have been the show’s biggest, baddest and most exciting villain to date has fallen flat after just one season. What viewers saw in December’s midseason finale was definitely a shakeup, but one that may send TWD in a further downward spiral.
Warning: Spoilers from The Walking Dead season 8 below.
When the midseason premiere of TWD airs on Feb. 25, it will say goodbye to another original character.
When season 8 began, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was prepared to lead a multi-pronged attack against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). But as viewers saw, the plan failed. The Saviours escaped, Alexandria was blown up, and the Kingdom was all but wiped out. But none of that devastation could compare to the revelation that Carl (Chandler Riggs) had been bitten by a zombie, signalling his inevitable death.
The choice to kill Carl is the show’s most shocking decision to date, and the biggest change from the comic. Carl’s role in the comics has been crucial over the years, and his story arc with Negan has been a fan favourite – something viewers will now never get to see.
And the cast was just as shocked as the fans.
“I never saw it coming,” Lincoln told Entertainment Weekly (EW). “I always thought that the kid would be the future, and that was the whole point of this – that I was going to hand over the revolver and let him walk off into the distance.”
Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl Dixon, was equally shocked.
“I always thought Chandler would be the last man standing,” he told EW.
Carl will meet his fate in the upcoming midseason premiere, but the loss of another original character might make fans hesitant to continue watching, especially given the sluggish pacing of the last few seasons.
In terms of how the show will move forward, considering large portions of the comic will now become null with Carl’s death, TWD comic creator and show EP Robert Kirkman has defended his creative decision.
“I know that some fans online have been very upset, but that’s by design,” Kirkman told EW. “We’re not supposed to be happy when these characters die … I really do believe that a lot of people will put those feelings aside when they watch this episode.”
Tune into AMC Sun. Feb. 25 at 9/8c to see how Carl’s final words will shape the remainder of season 8 of The Walking Dead.