‘The Walking Dead’ Says Goodbye to Carl Grimes, Previews Bloody Future Ahead

Warning: this post contains spoilers from the Sunday, February 25, episode of The Walking Dead.

I’m not crying, you’re crying … OK, I’m crying, too.

Returning Sunday, February 25, after several weeks away, The Walking Dead devoted most of its 82-minute runtime to saying an extended goodbye to Carl (Chandler Riggs), who survived the zombie apocalypse (not to mention puberty) through eight seasons only to get bitten by a walker while trying to escort a new acquaintance back to Alexandria.

The Walking Dead
Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs and Danai Gurira as in season 8 of The Walking Dead. Gene Page/AMC

With a close focus on Carl’s last moments, “Honor” was an episode with a lot of heart … and, occasionally, other internal organs. Here’s everything that happened in the mid-season premiere.

Reclaiming the Kingdom

While Carl’s impending death dominated the episode, nearly ninety minutes of tearful goodbyes would’ve been too bleak to handle. Hence, this nice, plump side plot focused on Morgan (Lenny James) and Carol (Melissa McBride) returning to the burning Kingdom to rescue Ezekiel (Khary Payton). This sequence only showed how much Morgan has evolved: from a doting father to an unhinged head case to a Zen pacifist, and finally, in this episode, into a cold-blooded, merciless predator. Between yanking a man’s intestines out through a wound in his abdomen, and stalking his enemies with all the terrifying, deliberate slowness of Michael Myers, Morgan racked up quite a body count — until Ezekiel and Carol caught up to him and begged him to show mercy to Gavin, the last surviving Savior.

While the three of them argued, young Henry (Macsen Lintz) crept up like a ninja and did the bloody deed himself, avenging his brother’s death and making everyone extremely uncomfortable. Especially since it was Morgan who showed him how to kill with a stick.

The Walking Dead
Melissa McBride and Lennie James in The Walking Dead.b Gene Page/AMC

A Long Goodbye

Meanwhile, apart from the happenings at the Kingdom, this episode was All Carl, All the Time. In a flashback montage, we saw the poor, doomed teen making peace with his impending death and making the most of his last day on earth — snuggling with Judith, writing goodbye notes, and setting up Siddiq (Avi Nash) in some temporary digs underground. But then, the flashback was done, and we were back in the tunnels beneath Alexandria while the Saviors firebombed the town above. With his fever worsening, Carl spent his last hours describing to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) his vision for a peaceful future: the one we saw back in the season premiere, featuring music by Weird Al Yankovich and Rick with a massive Santa Claus-style beard.

What fans assumed was Rick’s vision, was actually Carl’s. It also, surprisingly, featured Negan living in Alexandria with the group, planting and being sweet to Judith. (In the vision, he was wearing the flannel, rather than keeping it tied around his waist.)

Seeing that Snapchat-filtered vision of humanity in harmony come true was Carl’s final wish, and his father promised it would: “I’m gonna make it real,” Rick said. A long and tearful goodbye later, Carl shot himself, ending his own life. Rick and Michonne put their kiddo in the ground. RIP, Carl.

A Final Twist

While Carl’s story was over, the rest of the gang must go on — possibly to some unexpected places. With just moments left in the episode, The Walking Dead replaced its dreamy, fantasy flash-forward with a much grimmer picture: Rick, covered in blood, sitting alone under a tree decorated with stained-glass windowpanes.

The Walking Dead airs on AMC Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.

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