This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.
While The Walking Dead hyped a major moment going into the season eight midseason finale, few fans (outside of the spoiler-seeking ilk,) could have imagined that it would break what stood as an unspoken cardinal rule to seal the fate of its protagonist heir-apparent, Chandler Riggs’ Carl Grimes. Thus, as a series untouchable presumably rides off into the zombie apocalypse sunset, his onscreen dad, Andrew Lincoln, discusses a potential ending for Rick himself on the horizon.
Speaking to THR in one of the myriad The Walking Dead midseason finale postmortem interviews, Lincoln commented on the oft-discussed topic of the series’ potential endgame, which has become an especially potent topic, given what just occurred in the midseason cliffhanger. In the final scene of “How It’s Gotta Be,” Carl pulls up his shirt to reveal to his father that he has been bitten on his rib by a walker, which, of course, is a slow and steady death sentence in the show’s mythology. Yet, with Lincoln’s own contract set to expire soon and AMC yet to engage in the once-perfunctory act of renewing The Walking Dead for another season, the end of Rick’s story and that of the cable juggernaut – which still draws massive ratings, despite recent hemorrhaging – is certainly in the public discussion.
When asked if he sees an end in sight, Lincoln stated:
“Yeah, I think so. I’ve said to you before and I really feel that the fans — and also for my own satisfaction — that there deserves to be an end point. There needs to be an end game and that is something that is definitely being talked about. (Laughs.) I can’t get into all of that. But all of that will be answered. As I’ve said to you before — and I will continue to say — my relationship with Rick Grimes is far from over.”
Viewers were led to believe that Rick’s fate was set in stone, since season eight started with scenes, presumably set years in the future, showing an older, white-bearded, cane-requiring Rick living an idyllic life in Alexandria (which we just saw get destroyed), with partner Michonne, daughter Judith (presumably), and – in what could stand as the biggest anachronism – a very-much alive Carl. Thus, Carl’s imminent death leaves us with questions about everything we thought we knew about the show’s post-“All Out War” period. Indeed, Lincoln promises that viewers won’t have to wait for said answers in the midseason premiere in February. Lincoln said of Rick’s journey:
“It’s such an extraordinary story and in my heart, it deserves some resolution.”
With Carl’s death apparently an inevitability, one of the primary motivating forces for Rick since the series began – building a safe and satisfying world for Carl – has essentially been negated. However, unlike his counterpart in Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, Rick still has his toddler daughter (dubious paternity notwithstanding), Judith, as a motivator for building his new society. Thus, the loss of Carl, who was recently seen chatting up his father about potentially showing mercy to the Saviors after the war concludes, may be the impetus for Rick to carry out the aligning comic books storyline’s surprising climax (which I won’t spoil, since there are enough spoilers here).
The Walking Dead may be getting a little long in the tooth and has brandished a storyline that, while tremendously popular in the comic book series, has tested the patience of its viewers. However, it would be premature to anticipate its ending, especially with exciting things in the works for the TV franchise set to occur, notably next year’s crossover plans for (the formerly-maligned) spinoff series Fear the Walking Dead set, which will see Lennie James’s Morgan Jones – a TWD mainstay since the pilot episode – jump over to the spinoff’s main cast. Plus, speculation surrounding the introduction of the comic series’ savage, skin-mask-wearing antagonist group, the Whisperers, will likely keep die-hard fans engaged.
The Walking Dead will pick up from its heartbreaking cliffhanger moment when Season 8B premieres on February 25, 2018.