The mid-season climax of The Walking Dead series 8 has left us dangling with yet another cliff-hanger. Yes, even after the backlash that followed that point-of-view shot of Negan taking a baseball bat to an unknown character’s head at the end of series 7, the writers still enjoy a good tease.
Except that the first half of series 8 has ended with a cliff-hanger that at first seems quite straightforward. If you’re not up to date, beware that there are spoilers ahead. In episode 8, it emerges that Carl, Rick’s beloved son, has been bitten. He looks feverish and sweaty and the suggestion is that he has been bitten by a walker. That means only one thing; his imminent death. Or does it?
The rest of the cast seem adamant. This is it for Carl, the character that Chandler Riggs has been playing since he was eleven. In Entertainment Weekly, Andrew Lincoln has called it “the biggest death we’ve ever done”. Chandler Riggs says that showrunner Scott Gimple revealed to him that “Carl would be dying in episode 9”. Norman Reedus has admitted to being ‘desperately unhappy’ about losing Riggs from the cast.
Even Riggs’ Dad weighed in with a now deleted Facebook post expressing his anger at AMC and showrunner Scott Gimple. He said that “watching Gimple fire my son 2 weeks before his 18th birthday after telling him they wanted him for the next 3 years was disappointing”.
It all seems very certain. Carl will die. Chandler Riggs needs to start looking for a new job. But with the internet being the internet, there are those that believe things may not be that simple.
Diverting from the comics
After all, this would be the biggest diversion from the comic books in the history of the series. The Walking Dead show is notorious for not taking its source material as gospel, but having Carl die may just be a step too far.
Not since Andrea died in the TV series, has there been such a massive diversion from the trajectory of the comics. With Carl still alive in the comics, and seeming to have some very significant story lines coming up, it’s a huge surprise to see him being killed off in the show. And it’s not a welcome one.
Could Carl survive?
The only other option is that Carl somehow survives his bite. That would mean all of these interviews with the cast have been packed with lies. Or the cast have somehow been kept in the dark about Carl’s true fate. It’s a tall order, but a vague possibility. Even though Riggs has publicly cut his infamous hair off, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s definitely done with The Walking Dead. It could be more misdirection.
The most likely way for Carl to survive would be to reveal that he wasn’t actually bitten by a walker. Sounds implausible? Yes, it does. Especially considering how ill Carl looks at the end of the episode. But those who have read the comics will know that there is an upcoming story line (whisper it) that could make sense of Carl thinking he has been bitten by a walker, when in fact, it was something else that bit him. For those who want to know more about this theory, check out this video.
The Walking Dead returns on Monday 26th February, so we’ll have to wait until then to find out Carl’s fate. But it will be a real shame to lose Carl. The Walking Dead has always felt like it was going to become his story one day, after Rick is gone. I’m all for surprises, but this one may have gone a step too far.
What do you think? Is Carl definitely going to die?