Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
After two months off, we are plunged back into the bitter war between The Survivors and The Saviors. We are also quickly reminded of the current status of one of the main characters. One who has been a part of the series since day one. One who will be saying his goodbye by the end of the episode.
This episode marks the end of Carl Grimes.
At the start, we see the steps Carl took after being bitten in order to protect the Survivors within the sewer drainage system below Alexandria during the battle, but to also prepare himself and those around him for his impending doom, including preparing notes for different members of their community. As we reach the present, Carl is slowly slipping, his skin getting lighter and his speech slightly slowing down. Rick and Michonne can do nothing more than sit by his side and wait for the inevitable to arrive.
To say this episode was heavy on the drama is an understatement. With Carl being not only one of the few remaining characters to have been present dating back to the beginning episodes but on top of it, being the loyal son of the show’s lead character is just pure pain-inducing. As members of the viewing audience, we have seen this character grow from young child to young man. From short hair to flowing locks. From roaming around on Herschel’s farm to protecting the people of Alexandria. We have seen Carl grown into a viable leader amongst the Survivors.
And now, we say goodbye to him.
While the episode did feature Morgan and Carol moving covertly through the village, killing every member of the Saviors in their way and freeing Ezekiel, it is Carl’s last moments, huddled close by Rick and Michonne, that are the primary focus of this episode. Carl tells the two of them how much he loves them both. He reminds his father that there needs to be a future after this war; that killing everyone is not the answer. Carl describes to his father what he sees from this moment on. That he sees a future where everyone is living together, including some Saviors, within the confines of Alexandria. This moment reveals that it has been through Carl’s eyes that we see the older Rick and Michonne living together in peace with the others. This has been Carl’s vision. His hope that one day, the fighting will end and peace will succeed.
With that, Carl removes his silenced handgun, choosing to do the act himself. Rick and Michonne are inconsolable as they sit outside of the building and hear the silenced gunshot. As the two of them take his body and bury it on the grounds, we are shown one last moment from Carl’s vision. One that shows Negan joyfully greeting little Judith Grimes in this peaceful future.
The last scene of the episode is that of an injured Rick, sitting under a tree. This moment undoubtedly is setting us up for what’s to come in the remaining episodes.