Please note if you have not watched the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, spoilers lie ahead. Now that my warning is out of the way…
Forever now I have been wanting to write about The Walking Dead. Not just in a convention setting, which I still need to finish up or break up in some manner. My apologies on dropping the ball there. I am not a person who started watching the show from the very beginning. I always told myself to watch it because everyone talked about the show. I was told numerous times by numerous people how much I would love the show. And at the time I kept thinking, ‘I don’t like a lot of zombie stuff so why would I like this?’ However, as soon as I finished season one I was hooked. To be honest, I was hooked from the moment I saw that little girl turn around in her bunny slippers and Rick and I realized together that the world had changed in an instant. At least for us.
So there I was going to sleep at an obscene time of the morning and telling myself I needed to catch up in time to start watching actively with season five. Plus, I wanted to do so in order to watch with a friend who didn’t know if she could watch the show without her mother. Lots of reasons. And lots of reasons to keep watching in my opinion. While over the past couple of years I have seen comments and articles about the decline of the show, I feel the show has gotten better over time. The storytelling and the way the story arcs take place ultimately have intrigued me, but also made me want to know what will happen next. My only complaint is some of that formatting. I do like that in season eight each episode has built on top of the others and been more consecutive this season.
With all this season, I can openly admit that I binge watched four seasons and have been current for four seasons, including season eight. This has turned into setting my DVR to make sure nothing records in that spot on Sundays so I can watch the show live. I have not done this with a show since Grey’s Anatomy first aired. I will admit part of my reasoning was story sync, which I miss painfully, but mostly I needed to see the next episode. I needed to know what happened to these characters I have fallen in love with over the past couple of seasons.
Despite knowing that all of the zombie films I have viewed over the years have never given a spark of hope for the survivors, if they left any survivors, I knew I was in love with The Walking Dead. I also knew I was in for a lot of heartbreak with these characters I had fallen in love with over time. They have even stated on The Talking Dead that people who have been there for a while don’t recommend paying a lot for a place to stay while filming for the show. Nothing is guaranteed. One week they will follow the comic down to the dialogue and the next there is such a profound step away viewers are left wondering what made the writers take such a leap.
The impending death of Carl Grimes is a leap I never saw coming. While on The Talking Dead, Scott Gimple said the bite was filmed and had been on screen and did not think the reveal would be a big thing ultimately, I do not remember seeing the actual bite. This is one of those seasons I know I will have to watch again to pinpoint that moment and view it for myself. But seeing that bite mark on Carl’s side was far more heart wrenching than I ever thought such a moment would be on the show. Maybe that is because I never thought Carl would be killed off. I have not read through the comics. I did not know until asking a friend who had that he was still alive in them. I just always assumed with Carl would be around.
I think a good part of my assumption is because of that moment where audiences watch Rick and Carl reunite on-screen for the first time since Rick wakes up from his coma. A father with a son. In that moment, we are lucky enough as a viewing audience to see something that most of us are not fortunate enough to get in life. A second chance with a parent we thought was otherwise lost. I would love to realize that my mom has been somewhere for the past eight years in a coma and woke up just to find me. Despite the moral compass on this show being the worst place to be EVER, I just knew that Carl Grimes would make it. He would eventually take over and become this man that his father only imagined he could once upon a time.
Then when one adds up everything that Rick has done to keep Carl safe, everything Carl has learned to remain safe, and to see the growth in Carl at times, even when I did not agree with his decisions and could not help but think UGH ARROGANT TEENAGER!, we watched a character, and an actor, transform from a boy to a man before our eyes. We watched this child grow right before our very eyes and that’s what made seeing that bite so damn difficult! That is why I know come the premiere of the second half of the season I am going to either be in bed or on my couch bawling like a baby. That goodbye is going to be one that hits me far harder than I want it to.
This goodbye, as Andrew Lincoln has put it so many times before, is the death of the passing of a baton that should naturally occur in life. No parent should ever have to watch their child pass on, fictional or otherwise. I am intrigued to see how this plays out as there will be far more time for them all to process the loss. There will be time to say goodbyes, but I imagine that will make this harder. But the image I have in my head of Carl handing back Rick’s hat to him after managing to keep it all these years…that’s the most heartbreaking of all.