'The Walking Dead' recap: Carl's death affects everyone (2023)


'The Walking Dead' recap: Carl's death affects everyone (1)

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'The Walking Dead' recap: Carl's death affects everyone (2)

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Will Carl’s death mean a return to form for The Walking Dead? I don’t have much faith in that after the following events.

This week’s episode was split into separate character profiles for Michonne, Negan, Enid, Simon, Jadis, and Rick, though it’s not fully clear why these specific names were chosen as highlights — and these characters weren’t always the stars of their own sections. The first, for instance, may focus on Michonne, but the camera tends to linger on Rick, who’s having a private moment over Carl’s newly dug grave and ignoring Michonne hacking away at walkers in the background.

Elsewhere, Rick is already reneging on the promise he made to his son. Carl’s death tries to fill the empty space between the events of the hour, but it only gives the impression that season 8 so far doesn’t have a clear plan to get to its conclusion — much like Rick’s wobbly logic as he trudges forward in the present conflict.


A wooden cross fashioned out of sticks and rope protrudes from Carl’s grave site. Rick initially dangles his gun from the branch, but further reflection prompts him to take it back.

Michonne surveys an Alexandria in ruins and the walkers that now wander freely along the streets. She goes to close the gate as more of the dead shamble towards the opening, but the snarling corpses wedge themselves between the gate and the door, providing a needlessly gory moment when a walker’s face gets caught on the lock and its decaying flesh is pulled from its skull. It’s needless because it ruins the mood the episode is trying to set with a gruesome shock factor.

Michonne and Rick lifelessly wander Alexandria to scavenge what they can. Rick pulls a walkie off of a body, while Michonne is taken aback by the paint handprints Carl made with Judith on their porch. She begins to cry but must hold it in when she sees more walkers stalking towards them. There’s no time to mourn in this world because when someone dies, walkers are typically close by. It’s this bottling up of emotion without a release that tends to cause characters to act impulsively and make horrible decisions.

She returns to grab Rick, and the two pile more supplies into their van, nearly ready to leave. But Michonne is struck by the image of a burning gazebo. Carl used to sit on its roof, so she and Rick rush over with fire extinguishers to try and snuff the flames. There are too many walkers, and they’re forced to flee — leaving this reminder of Carl in ash in their rearview.

On the road, Rick wipes away tears as he wonders what Carl meant by his last words. “Did he want us to stop fighting? … [to] surrender to Negan?” he asks. Rick’s final promise to his son — on his deathbed, no less — was to fulfill his vision for the future, and already he’s poking holes in it. Carl mentioned this is the paradise his family could have if he could be more like the Rick he once was, but present Rick seems to see this as a weakness, as he interprets Carl’s wish as more of a submission than a compromise. He refuses to even read the letters Carl wrote him, a decision he clings to when Michonne shows him an extra letter Carl wrote to Negan.

This scene also highlights the often simple dialogue written into The Walking Dead. Rick blurts out that he wants to go see Jadis. “Why now?” Michonne asks. Because, as he so plainly lays out, the Scavengers were with him attacking The Sanctuary and are probably Negan’s next target after Alexandria. “They’re ours, not theirs,” Rick says. (Carl was also his son, not Negan’s, and he’s irked by the fact that Carl wrote his enemy a letter.)

So they head to the junkyard. As soon as they enter, they trip a trap and trash falls down to block the entrance, while they hear the snarls of walkers approaching them.


It seems the main purpose for these sectional breaks is more to mark shifts in time because, again, while this portion is supposed to focus on Negan, it hones in on Simon.

Negan learns over the walkie that the Alexandrians managed to escape, though he still doesn’t know about Carl. They talk about Hilltop and how their plan went swimmingly, even though Simon didn’t want to play it like that — more basic dialogue. Simon, however, is antsy. He doesn’t know what to do with himself if he’s not “running down Rick and company.”

Negan tells him to see the Scavengers, but to only deliver the standard message: kill one of their own to force the others to fall in line. Simon lets his frustration show and suggests they cut their losses and kill them all, because Negan’s way hasn’t been working as of late. Negan warned him to follow his orders, but more in a subdued don’t-f—with-me sort of way and not in his typical Negan manner.

Their conversation is interrupted when Saviors enter with a gift from Hilltop: a wooden coffin containing the now-turned corpse of the Savior Maggie killed. Again, Simon sounds off about going to kill every last one of the Hilltoppers, and this time Negan screams at him to “do your job.”
(Recap continues on the next page.)


After killing Natania in the woods while sneaking into Oceanside, Enid and Aaron are now brought as captives to be held at the colony’s school. Cyndie, still a young girl, is given the task of deciding their fate, since Natania was her family. After a brief moment of deliberation while Enid reflects on the life she took, Cyndie and her Oceansiders come back in to bring them to the beach for execution.

Enid somehow manages to talk Cyndie out of it in a not-all-that-convincing way — just a few words about how eventually Rick and the others will come looking for them and will wipe out Oceanside if she and Aaron are discovered dead. (Though it didn’t seem Aaron told anyone of his specific whereabouts, and Oceanside could easily fling their bodies to the waves.)

Oceanside is by far one of the biggest sources of frustration. The colony doesn’t seem to really fit into the mix with what’s going on, but the writers are determined to revisit them. Tara betrayed Oceanside’s trust when she not only told Rick about their existence, but then returned to forcibly take all their weapons. When members of Alexandria come again, they kill a member of Cyndie’s family. Despite all this betrayal, they still don’t retaliate, and Aaron still believes he can convince them to fight with them against Negan.

So he elects to stay behind and send Enid back home — because if they spent all this time traveling on an excursion that already seemed fruitless to begin with and came back empty handed, that’d just be bad storytelling.


Simon shows up in full force at the junkyard to confront Jadis. His composure begins to crack as he and his men stand off against the Scavengers. He relays Negan’s message of forgiveness: As long as Jadis can honor the original terms of their deal and fork over their entire supply of guns and ammo, all will be swept under the rug.

Jadis agrees, and her people are forced to give up their only means of defense, but Simon also wants an apology. The two speak over Jadis’ latest painting, as he wonders about the solar panels and helicopter launch pad in the back. All she’ll say to those is that it all used to be a dump, but now it’s something the Scavengers can claim as their own.

Simon then wants to feel assured that there is remorse on Jadis’ part for her role in aiding Rick. She claims there is, but he swiftly pulls out his gun and shoots down both of her main advisors. Jadis punches Simon in the face, knocking over a can of blue paint — the same spill Rick and Michonne spotted when they first entered the landfill. Simon stands up and in retaliation has his men kill all of the Scavengers except for Jadis.

Simon returns to The Sanctuary with all of their guns but keeps the full degree of his actions from Negan. This moment reminds me of Shane a bit when he killed Otis in season 2: He had returned to the farm and shaved his head to keep his brutal act hidden. Now Simon looks down at the paint smudge on his boots, the only clue to what really happened at the junkyard.

Negan mentions they still haven’t heard from Gavin at Hilltop (‘cause he’s dead) so he sent a convoy out to investigate. One of his men then mentions Rick is calling for Negan over the walkie.


(Video) The Walking Dead's Biggest Problem...

We travel back in time a beat to pick up with Rick and Michonne battling the walkers that were once the Scavengers. They climb up a pile of trash for safety and find Jadis. Now dressed in white, the illusion she cast for her people (that annoying way of speaking) is broken in the face of so much loss. She explains in a normal voice that she used to come to this trash heap before the outbreak to find canvases to paint. Once the virus spread, she and the other Scavengers became something new amid a world they called their own.

Rick isn’t sympathetic to her plight. He leaves her with the claim that she caused her own people’s death, and he fashions a shield out of a car door so he and Michonne can make a run for it. Jadis asks to come with them until the walkers have dispersed, but Rick says he’s done with her games.

Rick and Michonne fight their way through the herd and force a hole through the garbage blocking the entrance. Instead of letting Jadis, who’s hurrying up behind them, do the same, Rick fires a bullet in the air, signaling other walkers to her location.

Jadis manages to escape down a side alley, and as her final act as Scavenger leader, she wrangles her own people toward a waste disposal. She watches as they are all ground into heaps of entrails, their guts splattering against her painting. Now alone, she sits down to eat applesauce from a can, trapped in a world of her own making.


Back on the road, Rick tells Michonne he fired the bullet because he didn’t want Jadis to be dead, just gone. Michonne mentions something Carl said about having a choice to change their future, and Rick pulls over to read the letter his son left for Negan. It’s a request for him to lay down his arms and make peace with Rick, something Rick claims is too late when he walkies for Negan over the radio.

Ezekiel mentioned a while ago to Carol that everyone has a role to play in this world. His character reverted back when he lost Shiva, Rick breaks after losing Carl, Jadis breaks after losing her people, and now another facade breaks as the weight of this news about Carl washes over Negan. He fears it was his attack on Alexandria that killed the boy, but Rick angrily informs him it wasn’t. Negan says he had “plans” for Carl, whom he saw as “the future,” which only further enrages Rick.

Negan continues to lay on the blame: “Do not let any more of your s-— decisions cause you to lose anyone else you love,” something Rick hasn’t learned from in the past. The rest is a tangle of words. Negan asks why Rick couldn’t just let him “save” everyone, which is what he says he was trying to do when he killed Glenn and Abraham. “Give up,” he says as a final message. “Give up because you already lost.”

Episode Recaps


'The Walking Dead' recap: Carl's death affects everyone (26)

The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

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(Video) The Real Reason These Walking Dead Actors Left


Why Carl died in Walking Dead? ›

Carl dies in The Walking Dead season 8. His death comes as the result of a walker bite, which the young hero unfortunately gets after helping Siddiq honor his mother by killing walkers in the hopes that their souls are released.

Was Negan sad about Carl? ›

He genuinely respected Carl to the point where he had plans to groom him to be a Savior. Despite threatening to kill him more than once, he became emotional when he heard that Carl had passed away. Later, after escaping Alexandria, he ran into a single mother and her young son.

Why does Rick cut Carl's arm off? ›

Unfortunately for Carl, Rick wasn't entirely broken by Negan's brutality even after the deaths of Abraham and Glenn. So, naturally, Negan decided to make Rick chop off his son's left hand.

What were Carl's last words? ›

His final words to Michonne? “I love you.” In the end, Carl forced both Rick and Michonne to step outside the burning Alexandria church once they had said their goodbyes.

How old is Carl when he dies? ›

So narrow is the time frame in Carl's final days, there are 3 episodes between the character being bitten and actually dying. When Carl does finally bid farewell in The Walking Dead season 8's "Honor," he's probably 15 years-old, even though Riggs himself was in his late teens.

Is Carl immune to walkers? ›

Carl is immune to walker bites. At some point, fans believe, we're going to have to start working on a cure for the zombie plague in order to fix the world.

How did Negan react to Carl's death? ›

As Rick tells Negan that Carl is dead, Negan is clearly bummed out, and fears that Carl's death was a result of the Saviors' attack on Alexandria. It's a rare case of Negan not wanting blood on his hands, and even when he finds out it wasn't his fault, he offers apologies to Rick. "Goddammit.

What does Daryl whisper to Carl? ›

I've been getting a few emails from fans and after rewatching the scene a few times it appears that Daryl says "Get away" to Carl. Another reader pointed out that before Daryl says that to Carl, it seems as if the two shared a bit more dialogue.

Do Negan and Carl become friends? ›

Negan says that he and Carl are friends and that Rick could not break that bond. Negan tells Rick that he is just getting things ready for him and that he will not be in his cell forever.

Why does Carl wear Ricks hat? ›

The cowboy hat originally belonged to Judith's dad, Rick Grimes, and was then worn by her brother, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), before being passed down to her. Over the course of the show, it's become a staple and symbol of the series.

Is Carl Ricks biological son? ›

Carl is Lori and Rick Grimes' son and Judith's elder half-brother. Carl loved both his parents, even though they began to have marital issues.

Who kills Negan? ›

No, Negan does not die in The Walking Dead. He has come close to death on many occasions, and none more so in the season 8 finale when Rick Grimes finally destroys him and his vicious saviors before opting to save his life and make him a prisoner of Alexandria.

How did Carl survive the bite? ›

Carl is immune to walker bites. At some point, fans believe, we're going to have to start working on a cure for the zombie plague in order to fix the world.

What is Carl's gender? ›

Carl is a North Germanic male name meaning "free man".

What was in Carl's letter to Enid? ›

Read more: Here's what Carl's letter said to Negan

Enid later explained "JSS" meant "just survive somehow," and it was the mantra that kept her going in the zombie apocalypse. After befriending Carl, he basically told Enid that there's more to life than that.

How many babies does Carl have? ›

Carl Learned He Had Sons

Surprise! Carl's a biological dad to two babies. This is played out in season 9, but it's only now that Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) learns Frank (William H.

Who kills Carl before he turns? ›

In a heartbreaking moment, Rick and Michonne are sown outside the sewer as a gunshot goes off, confirmed Carl had killed himself. The cause of Carl's death was, therefore, suicide although some TWD fans blame Siddiq for it.

Does Carl keep his kids? ›

Although he was finally convinced to keep at least one of Carl's children, Frank was left with the other twin. Frank and Liam (Christian Isaiah) devised a plan to sell the baby, even though Frank eventually grew attached to the child. Luckily for everyone, Carl's baby finds a good home...

Why is Morgan immune? ›

Is Morgan immune to Walkers? In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Fear the Walking Dead showrunner, Andrew Chambliss explains that Morgan's walker immunity comes from his near-death scent.

Is There A Cure For The Walking Dead? ›

'The Walking Dead' creator explains why there'll never be a cure for the zombie apocalypse in the show. The co-creator of The Walking Dead has clarified why a cure for the zombie apocalypse will never be introduced into the show's plot.

Does Carl have a love interest in walking dead? ›

After learning of the deaths of Glenn and Abraham, Enid travels to the Hilltop with Carl. She and Carl share their first kiss and Enid begs Carl to not travel to the Sanctuary, but he doesn't give in.

Why did Negan love Carl? ›

Negan Has A Sympathetic Side Towards Children

Carl is a more complex relationship, because Carl did despise the man just as anyone did from Alexandria at the time. But Negan actually admired Carl. He admired that the kid wasn't afraid to confront him and try and kill him, saying that he had major balls to do so.

Does Negan care about people? ›

Who does Negan care about? While Negan in The Walking Dead has a lot of people he hates - and I mean a lot of people - he always cares about children. He cares about the safety of them, and believes that they shouldn't have to deal with the world that is being pushed upon them.

Does Negan turn good? ›

In the television series adaptation of the comics, Negan is introduced in Season 6 of the show and remains a major villain for the remainder of the series. He is eventually redeemed by the series' protagonists and is able to find peace in the finale of the show's eleventh season.

Who is the girl that Daryl knows? ›

A Reaper tries to stop him, throwing Dog down a hill, but Daryl fights them off. Another Reaper stops their companions from attacking Daryl, allowing him to escape. The following morning, Daryl finds Dog sitting next to a Reaper, who reveals herself to be Leah, Daryl's former romantic partner and Dog's former owner.

Does Daryl have a mental illness? ›

Daryl Dixon goes through a quick but severe state of depression after finding his brother Merle as a walker and having to put him out of his misery.

Does Daryl ever get a girl? ›

Does Daryl get a girlfriend in walking dead? Showrunner Angela Kang and the rest of the AMC drama's creative team at last delivered an episode giving Norman Reedus' perma-loner Daryl Dixon a 100% official love interest, Leah, as portrayed by True Blood and Bosch vet Lynn Collins.

Who does Negan fall in love with? ›

Maggie Greene, later Maggie Rhee in the television series, is a fictional character from the comic book series The Walking Dead, portrayed by Lauren Cohan in the television adaptation of the same name.

Who does Negan have a baby with? ›

Does Negan have kids Season 11? In the episodes of season 11, part 2, Negan announced that he was married to Annie (Medina Senghore), who is carrying his child.

Who is the main villain in TWD? ›

Negan is the best-known villain in TWD history, and despite his many wrongdoings, remains a fan-favorite character. But no matter how much he tries to be redeemed, the deaths on his conscience will always weigh heavy on both him and the viewers.

Is the baby Shane's or Rick's? ›

For the first time, Rick admitted he knew that Judith was, in fact, not his child, but was rather fathered by his former best friend and partner Shane (whom Rick then killed… before Carl killed zombie Shane).

Why does Carl keep his hair long? ›

Carl's hair was deliberately grown long as camouflage for his eyeless prosthetics, a simple disguise for covering up the joins years in the planning.

Does Carl Grimes lose his arm? ›

Carl Sacrifices His Arm (Season 7, Episode 1)

Next up is this emotionally draining moment from the Season 7 Premiere.

Who is the father of Rick's daughter? ›

Judith is the daughter of Lori Grimes and possibly Rick Grimes, and the younger sister of Carl Grimes. Judith's biological father could be either Rick or Shane, but Rick told Lori that he did not care if she was Shane's daughter because he will still love her as his daughter.

Who is the father of Michonne's baby? ›

Rick Grimes Jr., nicknamed R.J., is a survivor of the outbreak in AMC's The Walking Dead. He is the son of Rick and Michonne Grimes, the half-brother of the late Carl Grimes and Andre Anthony, and the adoptive brother of Judith Grimes. He resided at the Alexandria Safe-Zone with his family.

Is Michonne's baby Ricks? ›

After the time jump in season nine, it is revealed that Michonne gave birth to Rick's son, R.J. (Antony Azor), who she raised with Rick's daughter Judith (Cailey Fleming). She also became the leader of Alexandria but was very suspicious of newcomers due to her experience with Jocelyn (Rutina Wesley).

Who kills Rick Grimes? ›

In The Walking Dead comic book, Rick Grimes is killed by Sebastian Milton. Yes, the same Sebastian Milton that recently met his own demise on the TV series. (In the comic, Sebastian lives the rest of his life behind bars for his crime.)

Does Maggie blame Daryl for Glenn's death? ›

Daryl's guilt over Glenn haunted him through season 7 and resulted in a powerful, emotional scene with Maggie, who told him that she didn't blame him for what Negan did.

Was it Daryl's fault Glenn dies? ›

Negan killing Glenn was a direct result of Daryl's insubordination. Negan is attempting to command respect and power through fear. While Glenn knelt, remaining submissive, Negan had nothing to prove to him. Daryl, on the hand, acted out and needed to be “put in his place”.

How did Carl get infected on The Walking Dead? ›

The scene in question took place in Episode 6, titled "The King, The Widow, and Rick," when Carl was attempting to guide new survivor Siddiq back to Alexandria. The pair were attacked by a small pack of walkers, with the actual "bite" moment not appearing until the midseason finale.

Why killing Carl was a mistake? ›

Killing Carl Grimes Was TWD's Biggest Mistake

He knew that the communities were stronger together and that they needed to start trusting each other. Fans assumed that Carl would always be around since he was a mainstay in the comics. When the character was killed off halfway through Season 8, everyone was appalled.

Does Carl get a girl pregnant? ›

Near the end of Season 11, Carl seemingly impregnated a woman named Tish, possibly giving the babies a half-sibling. They make a cameo in the Hall of Shame.

What was Enid's reaction to Carl's death? ›

Speaking to Henry, Enid said, “Someone else close to me died, someone special, with a big heart,” she said, referring to Carl. “He left me a letter reminding me that 'just surviving,' it isn't living. It took me way too long to get what he really meant.”

Can Carl Be Saved? ›

If you want to keep Carl alive, you'll have to fight back, pushing Leo so that he falls over and smacks his head (don't worry, he's not dead). Push back against Leo, and you'll save any physical harm coming to your owner, Carl.

Was everyone infected in The Walking Dead? ›

Because everyone is infected, every person who dies - from any cause - will reanimate, unless their brain is severely damaged.

What episode does Rick tell everyone is infected? ›

It is revealed in Season 2, Episode #13 " Beside the Dying Fire ". Jenner tells Rick that No matter how you die, you always come back as a walker - in other words, everyone is already infected.

Is there an immune person in The Walking Dead? ›

Are there any immune people in the Walking Dead? Lydia is the very first character in the series' universe shown to be totally immune to the zombie plague; based on experimental observations by the Darkwater Militia, she is not infected by bites and, if she were to die, she would not reanimate.

Why did they write Carl off? ›

Why did they write Carl off The Walking Dead? Ultimately, Riggs was axed from The Walking Dead not because the actor was ready to leave or the character was out of stories, but because former showrunner Scott M. Gimple needed to give Rick some motivation to keep Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) around.

Who was Carl trying to save? ›

Carl was strong enough to put down his own mother during her point of no return, and he needed to do the same for himself, to save Rick or Michonne from having to live with that memory.

Did Carl turn into a zombie? ›

Carl's death is especially heartbreaking because he doesn't actually turn into a walker. Before the zombie virus kills him or turns him, he decides to take his own life by shooting himself in the head.

Does Carl lose his arms? ›

Carl's arm was spared at the last moment, and Walking Dead comic scribe Robert Kirkman had this to say about whether or not Carl will get to keep it in the long run: There were a lot of variations that were discussed, and we're not ruling it out for the future.

Who assaulted Carl? ›

Dan is a character first introduced in the Season 4 episode "Alone" of AMC's The Walking Dead. He is a member of The Claimers and a supporting antagonist in the second half of Season 4. He is a pedophilic rapist who was intent on raping Carl Grimes, Rick's son. He is portrayed by Keith Brooks.

Did Carl get assaulted? ›

Kirkman was less ambivalent about what was "going on," and in the book the scene was based on, Carl's pants were actually removed. But either way, the show never acknowledged the event, with Daily Beast later writing that "poor Carl is still trudging along as if his assault never happened."


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