*Contains spoilers for The Walking Dead comic books *
Sometimes you just want to gloss over the underwhelming finale of AMC’s , but even a few months after the fact the same burning questions remain.
The controversial Season 6 finale felt the biggest unanswered question teased by the showrunners over the course of the season, and the fan reaction on Twitter (which was 70% negative) and other social media pretty much sums up what we felt about it.
The No.1 show on TV doesn’t need gimmicks to get people to tune in next season. That’s what’s frustrating.
— Gary Holler (@GaryHoller)
Holler at ya Gary, you hit the nail on the head.
But we’re getting over it (slowly), and our apprehensions over how exactly the show creators were planning on keeping the whole thing a secret have been slightly dampened with the recent news that .
This is being done in an attempt to conceal whichever cast member drew the short straw and will not be turning up for work again, but
Break Out The Fan Theories
And so comes the fan theorizing, the great and frustrating thing about online fanbases. The Walking Dead is no stranger to this aspect of its viewership — remember the hell that broke loose when we thought Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) had been unceremoniously bumped off?
The Season 6 finale took that discussion and cranked it up to 100, and as to who suffered that brutal one-on-one business meeting with Lucille.
But there’s one character we can say for (almost) certain will have been spared by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) during that fatal game of “eeny meeny miny moe” in the Season 6 finale. We’re diving into the comic books now, so if you haven’t read them and don’t want potential spoilers we’re giving you until after the video of Negan battering up to bash someone’s brains in to jump ship.
Here we go:
Carl Grimes Will Survive
Okay, even to non-comic book readers this claim might not be a surprising one; there’s many reasons why the odds of Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) not making it through to are very, very slim.
But the most persuasive of the arguments comes from looking at his comic book arc, because the tale of Carl Grimes is far from over; in fact, it’s only just beginning.
Sure, the TV show has never been one for sticking all that closely to its source material ( ), and you can certainly make that argument here.
A good example is Andrea (Laurie Holden) — despite her character being bumped off way back in Season 3 of the show, she’s still alive and one of the main characters in the comics books. She’s even the one currently in a romantic relationship with Rick Grimes, not Michonne (Danai Gurira) as in the TV series.
But to remove Carl from the game right now would cut off a huge narrative arc which comes for him after the time-skip in the books. This storyline involves Carl’s coming of age in the Survivors group, and his relationship with a girl called Lydia whom he rescues from abuse at the hands of her group, the Whisperers. Lydia in particular is a big part of the upcoming comic book arc The Whisperer War which kicks off a few issues from now.
But — perhaps most pertinently for Season 7 — removing Carl at this juncture would also take a chunk out of Negan’s character development during the All Out War narrative arc, which will comprise most of the upcoming season.
Negan and Carl
Shortly after Glenn gets his head bashed in by Lucille in the comics, the Saviors make their first supply raid on Alexandria while the Survivors pretend to be in compliance as part of Rick’s plan to eventually fight back.
Carl — who isn’t happy at Rick refusing to take action to avenge Glenn — hides in the Saviors’ vehicle and sneaks into their compound with a machine gun. He manages to kill a number of the Saviors and attempts to kill Negan too. He is of course captured, but Negan — rather than punishing him — is both impressed with and amused by his fearless attitude.
Negan then takes him under his wing somewhat, not exactly being kind, but as close to kind as his character generally gets. He makes it clear that he doesn’t want to kill Carl, rather he’s impressed by his ferocity at such a young age. Instead of killing or hurting him for murdering several of his men, Negan eventually returns Carl safely to his father.
Why Is This An Important Moment?
At this time he tells Rick that he didn’t hurt Carl to show that he can be reasonable, but we later see that what he can actually be is tactical. Negan isn’t foolish, and he’s not a psychopath who kills for no good reason. This is perhaps the first instance when we start to see Negan as a person — not just some evil monster lurking in the dark — and it’s a huge part of what makes his character so compelling.
This is a view echoed by The Walking Dead showrunner Scott Gimple, as he told EW:
“[Negan’s] not a psychopath, and in some ways, he has this bizarre sort of empathy to him. It’s bizarre that he actually does have some empathy and he does have a system and he does have, in some ways, even reason. There are a lot of moments that are so terrifying because you can’t reason with him because he’s made up his mind on something. But he does reason things out. He isn’t just some psychopath.”
We later see that this strange relationship between the two survives past the two-year time-skip of the comics, during which time Carl grows into a young man in the midst of a semblance of peace between the various groups we’ve seen up till then.
While Rick keeps Negan imprisoned in the Alexandria jail cell, Carl often goes down to visit with the captured dictator, and talks to him about the intricacies of his day — topics such as girls, his future career prospects and troubled relationship with his father. Negan thanks him for visiting with him as it helps him “mark time,” and then asks Carl if he still wants to kill him.
There’s a very interesting relationship still to grow between these two characters, and it would be a real shame if this was stamped out of the TV show so soon.
But it’s a pretty safe bet to say that Carl will make it through The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere episode, as Negan already seems to have taken a liking to Chandler Riggs’s character — calling him “the little future serial killer.”
Add to that the rumors floating around from the cast and crew that we will see this relationship explored further in Season 7, and you can safely place your bets that Riggs will still be on set for the duration of next season.
The Walking Dead Season 7 will land sometime this fall.
What’s your favorite Negan moment from The Walking Dead comics? Tell us in the comments below!
MP Staff Writer. Superheroes, comic books, Marvel and DC, film, sci-fi, video games.