The Walking Dead: 5 Ways That Episode 9 Premiere Death Was Just OK

The Walking Dead Season 8 midseason premiere is still fresh in our minds, and we can't get over that heartbreaking death. As moving as some scenes from episode 9 turned out to be, here are five ways that plot-altering moment left us a little concerned about the future of the show.

SPOILERS ahead after this break, so stop reading if you don't want to know more.

1) It Positioned Carl As A Failure: In his dying moments, Carl expressed his worry that he failed himself and his family by acting with such little compassion. If you've been watching The Walking Dead as long as we have, you know Carl is far from a failure. Most recently, he took the leap to rightly trust Siddiq as a new member of the Alexandria clan. He saved his entire family from inevitable destruction at the hand of the Saviors.

From the prison to Alexandria, Carl has basically been the "secret sauce" to Rick's fairly successful recent leadership. In that sense, it was out of character to hear Carl express those thoughts towards the end of episode 9. The admission aimed to tug at our heartstrings, but it narratively stretched too far from what every viewer of the show obviously knows.

2) There Has To Be A Better Way: Carl Grimes isn't any old apocalypse victim, so it was slightly disappointing to see him express the same death musings as less critical characters. Moments before their deaths, Glenn, Hershel and Tyreese all hoped for a life beyond killing. We've heard variations on that line so many times now that it just isn't as impactful as it probably should be.

Carl consistently showed strength and resolve to do the right thing, even if it sometimes meant making a difficult decision. It would have been far more powerful for the son to tell his father something to the effect of, "I have no regrets for the way I lived, so here's what you can learn from me" Carl has been party to lots of heinous stuff, and it would've been a gutsy move by showrunners to justify it in the mind of the character himself.

3) More Characters Weren't Involved: As moving as the interactions between Carl, Michonne, Rick and Judith were, it felt odd that no other characters seemed to show any emotion during this cataclysmic revelation. Maybe they were too fear-stricken in the heat of the moment, but it's hard to ignore how many events Carl had endured alongside characters like Rosita and Tara. They didn't converse with Carl very much on the show, but this world is supposed to be bigger than what we see on camera.

Walking Dead Eugene Rick
The most we saw from other characters during Carl’s death was in his delirious visions. Gene Page/AMC

There was plenty of room in this 90-minute episode to see reactions from people beyond the obvious choices. Daryl's quick goodbye was such a strong moment, and there was ample space for more of that.

4) The Background Action Was A Bit Boring: We like to see the killer antics of Morgan and Carol as much as anyone else, but the subplot supporting this major death created an odd mismatch. The stealthy Savior assassinations were the perfect time to check your phone. It wasn't terrible, but there wasn't a ton going on, especially in the opening scenes.

Henry's slaying of Gavin ultimately worked as a framing device to contrast Carl's new peaceful worldview, but it took far too long to get there, particularly on a show where death lurks around every corner.

5) The Story Wasn't Over: The decision to kill Carl partially came from the personal decision of his actor, Chandler Riggs. Now we'll never get to see how the character was supposed to develop in the future. The writing team had already begun crafting a weird bromance between Carl and Negan, and now that buildup is gone.

The show has already established Henry as a vehicle to push that plot forward, but that relationship would have been so much more effective with Carl in the driver's seat. The Walking Dead comics prove there was plenty more of Carl's story to tell, but TV viewers won't get the chance to see it.

The Walking Dead continues with episode 10 on March 4.

Were you satisfied with how Carl's death was handled? Will it make The Walking Dead better? Tell us in the comments section!