Walking Dead Mid-Season Finale: Kill a Main Character? Sure, Why Not?

Carl Rick The Walking Dead Mid-Season Finale
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Mid-Season Finale Plot Summary:

Everything goes sideways for the alliance…literally everything. Alexandria and The Kingdom are raided by The Saviors. Carl (Chandler Riggs) desperately tries to hold Alexandria while Ezekiel (Khary Payton) … we actually don’t know his motives. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is at emotional crossroads. Oh, and a major character dies.

Spoilers ahead.

The Walking Dead is a weird show.

During the height of the show’s popularity, and my own personal fervor for the series, there was no more annoying character than Carl. In fact, I was one of many that wanted Rick’s sweaty, sheriff hat-wearing, pudding-eating son to get eaten by a walker.

The character always got into ridiculous situations, said stupid things, and his storylines often sidetracked episodes.

In short, when Carl was onscreen, we all rolled our eyes in annoyance.

However, as the actor grew up, so did the character. In fact, he’s one of the few characters that has evolved, and evolved in a positive manner. He’s became pretty bad ass, and no longer finds himself doing anything dumber than his sometimes psychotic dad Rick (Andrew Lincoln) would do. Well, except hang out with Enid (and boy was her storyline in the finale stupid as hell).

The irony here is the less Carl became annoying, the more The Walking Dead became annoying. So, now when Carl is actually a watchable, and likable character — the show which has become barely watchable and likable — the show decides to kill him off.

Of course, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that Carl’s character died — before the season started there were rumors that Chandler Riggs might depart the series in order to attend college.

And I’ll admit, the way they hid Carl being bitten was really clever. His offer of self-sacrifice came off as either a ploy (which it was), and/or him showing his love for his people (which it also was). His bewildered escape could’ve easily been written off being disoriented from the explosions, or falling off the wall, or just general fear/adrenaline. Never once did you suspect he was infected.

It was probably one of the best deaths the series has had in the past few seasons — with the exception of the ‘who’s Negan going to kill’ cliffhanger. It was definitely a surprise, and it happened to a character, a lot of people (based on Twitter reactions alone) did not see coming.

However, the whole thing seemed a bit arbitrary, and a bit emotionless. Maybe it’s my own cynicism towards the show, but the emotional resonance just wasn’t there. We haven’t seen Carl do much this season (outside of one episode), and he hasn’t felt like a “front line character” like Rick, Michonne, or Daryl in a long time. He’s always that kid who pops in and out, and we don’t have the same emotional connection with him as we do those others.

While Carl has improved leaps and bounds as a character — is he truly a beloved character? My answer is, not really. So the shock, and devastation of losing Carl as opposed to someone like Glenn, or Lori just isn’t there. The whole thing felt like a “Well, we gotta do something big for the finale…and Chandler might want to go…so let’s kill of Carl!”

Again, maybe I’m just desensitized to everything about this show, but in all honesty despite all its cleverness, this death did nothing for me. Like every mid-season, or season finale of this series, we’re left with headlines, and theories. But at this point, this whole thing seems like shock value.

In regards to the finale itself, we’re left with some decent cliffhangers (e.g. Ezekiel and Morgan, Maggie’s stand against The Saviors), but we’re back to square one with our heroes. Their backs are against the wall due to their own stupidity, and they need to fight to survive…again. It’s getting old at this point.

If you love The Walking Dead, you loved this episode with all your heart. If you’re like me, you appreciate the effort, but the end result is the same stuff we’ve seen for the past few years.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites