Carl Grimes is no more.
The young, tough-as-nails survivor – and heir apparent to his father Rick – was left circling the jaws of death late last year, when he succumbed to a nasty walker bite just prior to The Walking Dead‘s winter hiatus. And sure enough, last night’s super-sized premiere, “Honor,” brought about the end of Carl’s meandering saga.
It was a somber, gut-wrenching death that actually occurred off-screen, and though Chandler Riggs is already hinting at the possibility of Carl’s return – dead or otherwise – long-time series producer Greg Nicotero has now reflected on The Walking Dead‘s latest twist via Entertainment Weekly.
Nicotero was actually the brains behind the operation, given he directed “Honor” and effectively closed the book on Carl’s story. It was a finale good enough to reduce him to tears, and when asked about last night’s mid-season premiere, in particular, Nicotero revealed the one moment that brought on the waterworks.
It really hit me when Daryl steps up and says to Carl, “You did all this. This is all you.” And that realization that Carl was really the one person that wasn’t part of the war. Everybody else was online to wipe out the Saviors. It was all about killing. It was all about death. And when Daryl recognizes that, and looks around the tunnel and sees all those people there, and basically points out that everything that Carl has been doing is all about saving people, and all about life, that’s when it kinda hit me. And I think that goodbye moment between Daryl and Carl is the beginning of that emotional roller-coaster that takes us through the rest of the episode.
As for the significance of Carl Grimes being the one to pull the trigger, Nicotero believes The Walking Dead‘s latest casualty shouldered the burden – valiantly, we might add – to spare Rick from killing another one of his own. Being forced to kill your ailing wife is bad enough, it seems.
I think it’s tremendously impactful because he’s sparing them from it. It means he’s sparing them from the exact same thing that he had to do with Lori — which completely changed him by him having to be the one that pulled the trigger. He’s trying to send them off into the future with a much more clear indication of what they need to do to survive. And leaving them with that lasting vision of having to pull the trigger is in direct contrast with what Carl’s mission statement is to them from this moment onward.
Season 8 of The Walking Dead continues with “The Lost and the Plunderers” this coming Sunday, March 4th. For those in the UK, “Honor” will air later tonight via FOX TV.