After months of waiting in anticipation, the second half of season eight of The Walking Dead is back on our screens. In the final episode of the first half, it was revealed that Carl had been bitten by a walker a few episodes prior. This, naturally, prompted shock and anger throughout the TWD fanbase; Carl has been there from the start. He was the future of this show, he has grown up in this apocalypse and has become moulded by it. Was it right for the showrunners to just abruptly kill him off and, most of all, was it done right? Spoilers follow.
This episode can be received in a variety of different ways depending on how invested you are in Carl as a character. Personally, I neither love nor hate him. He's always been a neutral character to me. With that being said, I am not faulting Chandler Riggs' performance for this. He has been consistently great in the role and this episode was no exception. He does a great job at putting on a brave face, knowing full-well that his time is nearly up. But, it is due to my indifference towards Carl as a character, that I found this episode to be quite a bore. His death lasts the whole episode, which is both a blessing and a curse in the episode's favour as it instils a sense of dread in the viewer as we know he will be dead by the end of the episode, but that immediately turns against itself as it makes the whole episode feel like dragged-out filler, a problem which the show has been suffering with a lot recently. By the time we do get to Carl's death scene, we've become so exhausted by the tension and build-up that the payoff is rather underwhelming, which saddens me.
Despite my indifference towards him, I do feel Carl deserved a better send-off. This was an integral character to the franchise. Rick failed to protect him and he is now on his own. This should have been one of, if not, the most emotional episode of The Walking Dead in recent years, and it just wasn't. Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira do their best with what's given to them and, I'll admit, I got rather choked up when Rick says goodbye to Carl, but other than that, I came away from this episode feeling nothing. Not sadness. Not grief. Just nothing. That is not good considering how important this character was to the franchise. An episode which dealt with a similar death close to Rick's heart was the Season 3 episode "Killer Within", however this was done so much better because it is a spur of the moment death and not drawn out. We see a younger Carl have to go through watching his mother, Lori, die whilst giving birth and then having to be strong enough to put a bullet through her head. I didn't even like Lori as a character that much but her death was absolutely devastating because we know what effect it will have on Rick and Carl. A cruel reminder that tragedy and death is now an inevitable part of life in the apocalypse. It's emotionally draining stuff but handled to perfection (the flashback to Rick's "No more kid stuff." speech gets me every time). But "Honor" did not have that same emotional gravitas. I'm sure we'll see the repercussions Carl's death has on Rick in future episodes, but as for the end of Carl's story, it's a shame it had to end with a whimper, and not a bang.