Previously on The Walking Dead, “How It’s Gotta Be”
Now we know why Carl had to die, even though his comic book counterpart is still alive and well. Carl had to die so Negan can live.
The dream-like fast forward first presented in the season eight premiere, “Mercy”, returned in last night’s mid-season premiere as Carl’s vision of the future without him. A future in which Rick is old and happy, Michonne still looks the same because melanin is magic, Judith is finally walking, and the communities are thriving. Most of Carl’s final hours are spent trying to convince Rick that this future is possible, that they don’t have to kill everyone. Carl’s utopia also includes forgiveness as an option as Eugene is seen not only back into the fold, but on friendly terms with Rick.
As Rick and Michonne sit by Carl’s side in the sewers and the Saviors rain down holy hellfire on Alexandria above, Morgan and Carol attempt to rescue Ezekiel at The Kingdom before Gavin and the other Saviors can deliver him to Negan. Morgan’s back on his clearing steez and unflinchingly and methodically takes out Savior after Savior, stepping in a few times to kill so Carol doesn’t have to. By the time Gavin realizes there’s a problem, it’s too late. Gavin watches as Morgan disembowels a man with one hand and then takes off running. Morgan hunts him down in a sequence taken right out of a Halloween movie. Carol and Ezekiel try to convince Morgan that he doesn’t have to kill Gavin, who has surrendered. The decision is taken out of Morgan’s hands by the little boy Henry, who has followed Carol despite her orders not to; he stabs Gavin in the throat with his staff.
Carol: “Morgan, you don’t have to do this.”
This comes just after Carl has admitted that he knew the Woodbury boy in season three was about to surrender when Carl shot and killed him anyway. (I told you so!) If Farmer Rick hadn’t intervened in season four, Carl would have been well on his way to becoming a coldblooded, unstoppable killer… kinda like Morgan. Of course, we’ll conveniently forget all the other shit that went down between then and now, like Carl almost being raped and then watching his father stab a man more than a dozen times, and Carl mowing down Saviors after sneaking into The Sanctuary. The fact is, now, Carl realizes they cannot have any kind of meaningful life if they insist on killing everyone… even if those everyones are actively trying to kill them. I guess.
They manage to get Carl to the church above ground so he doesn’t have to die in a sewer. Final goodbyes are said, and Carl shoots himself in the head while Rick and Michonne wait outside.
The final bit of Carl’s vision of the future reveals that Negan is also a part of their community. He’s not dead. He’s not in Morgan’s homemade prison cell. He’s working in the community garden and palling around with Judith.
This is why Carl had to die – so The Walking Dead can keep Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan until the end, which I am convinced will be season ten. In what universe would Rick NOT kill Negan after all the shit he’s done? A universe in which Rick promised his dying son that he would put aside his guns and find a better way — this is most likely the other flash forward we’ve been shown where a red-eyed Rick says his mercy won over his wrath.
Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Rick will be on the verge of killing Negan when Henry puts a stick through Negan’s throat. *shrug*
Also, can we talk about how Carl took his impending death like a champ. That kid was so damn stoic and productive. I would have been curled up in a ball, sobbing, and wondering why bad things happen to good people.
What did you think of the mid-season premiere? Leave your brief thoughts below or on our Facebook post for this review, and we’ll read them on tonight’s podcast.
The Walking Dead S8E9 Review Score
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Norman Reedus, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton