For its midseason premiere, The Walking Dead will do something that was once thought impossible by killing off Carl Grimes. The show will be changed forever in several different ways, and not even the stars are fully aware of what is yet to come. For all the grief, though, Andrew Lincoln is very appreciative that The Walking Dead devoted an entire episode to Carl’s farewell, which not only allowed for closure on the set, but should help fans cope with the onscreen tragedy as well. In his words:
I’m not going to lie to you, that was sad. The beautiful thing is it’s what we rarely do in our show — we actually give the opportunity for a goodbye. It was unusual in that regard. Usually, things happen and people are ripped from you in this world that we inhabit. Thankfully, there was some sense of catharsis on this one, because we got to leave it all out on the screen. I thought Chandler did a remarkable job, as he always has done, but particularly in this episode.
Walking Dead fans are used to hearing the cast and crew talk about how gigantic and emotional upcoming arcs and moments will be, particularly when it comes to premieres and finales. But Andrew Lincoln is offering up something a little different here, which is probably helped by the fact that The Walking Dead isn’t trying to hide Carl’s death or any other spoiler-riffic moments. Instead of having to tease some unknown event, the actor can speak more freely about how Carl’s death, and Chandler Riggs’ exit from the show, affects things. Not altogether freely, mind you, since this is still The Walking Dead.
Fans kind of need a full episode to wallow in sorrow, especially after Season 7 offered little respite from Negan’s wrath to allow grieving for Glenn and Abraham. (The Season 7 finale was an exception here, since audiences got to spend several quiet moments with Abraham and the soon-to-be-a-walker Sasha.) Many viewers out there were heartbroken and enraged whenever Carl revealed his fatal walker bite, and it’ll likely take some major Carl moments in the midseason premiere to corral all those emotions.
As Andrew Lincoln put it to EW, the next episode will lay out how Carl’s final moments will influence Rick’s future, particularly where Rick’s wrath and mercy are concerned.
[Carl] is the linchpin. It goes back to the flash-forward where my mercy prevails over my wrath. There is a balancing of the scales in Rick’s life that happens in the back eight episodes. A lot of it is because of what is said in Episode 9, by his son.
Will Carl offer some peace-minded advice for how Rick should take care of Negan and the Saviors? Will Rick be as haunted by Carl’s death as he was by Lori’s? Will a last minute twist upend all of our sadness? What will happen to Carl’s hat and eye bandages? We need answers!
The Walking Dead will return to AMC for the back half of Season 9 on Sunday, February 25, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what else is coming to the small screen in the near future, head to our midseason premiere schedule.