The Walking Dead – The Emotional Life of Carl Grimes

As the show opens, it’s clear to me that Carl is learning to emotionally detach himself, ready for the day when he’ll either have to live without his father (after losing his mother and his baby sister – maybe) or preparing for the day when he’ll have to be the first to say good-bye to his father – leaving Rick alone. It was clear long before he gave Rick the “drop dead” speech.  First Carl separates himself physically, walking ahead and leaving a weakened Rick to become a potential walker victim.  Then he separates himself emotionally (throwing Shane’s death in Rick’s face despite the fact that his father killed Shane in self-defense).

So much has been taken from Carl that it saddens me. He’s even loses the respect he has for his father only to regain it later.  It has become a vicious cycle for this kid.  Was Carl’s unexpected mention of Shane a clue of what’s to come, or just a random barb meant to figuratively twist the knife into his father?    Whenever these moments happen between the father and son I wonder just how far the writers are willing to stray from the graphic novels.  I have to wonder if Carl doesn’t become the new Shane and at some point try to take his father’s life.  He clearly sees Rick as a failed leader and failed father – but the only father he has and one he still needs.  What happens when the need is gone?  Will Rick eventually have to kill Carl, whose emotional fragility seems to be hidden behind a willingness to verbally eviscerate anyone who stands in the way his attempt to reclaim something that resembles a real life? How much longer before Carl’s verbal evisceration of others become physical?

You can see just how much Carl yearns for moments of normalcy and hasn’t accepted the new world,as he pretends.  Every moment of joy is so quickly replaced by realities of his new world order – his smile seeing computer games and a flat panel TV was quickly replaced with the realization that the TV cords were only useful for tying the door shut to keep the walkers out and the two of them safe , if only for one more night.  What would have once been a stroll down a beautiful tree-lined street became a trap for walkers and a fight for his survival.  Sitting on the rooftop, eating  a 120 oz can of pudding was tempered by him listening to the hissing of the walker behind him as it was reaching through a window at him, in what should have been a moment of solitude.  Carl, I’m guessing, is supposed to be imagining that home with its parents  inside and children and dog playing in the yard.  He was supposed to be imagining that street filled with children his age.  Tragic.

Those moments of vulnerability (such as Carl not being able to kill his father when he believes that Rick has turned – and the fact that he continues to come back to watch over him) give me hope that we will never see this father and son fall apart and make the ultimate choice to live, one without the other.  This is The Walking Dead, the TV series, so I’m never sure.

Michonne, who has been a rock from the moment we met her, was, this episode, a puddle of nerves, tears, and memories, and I thank the writers for that.  Thank you, producers, for finally bringing Michonne’s life to screen.  I thank Danai Gurira for always giving the audience a new reason to love Michonne.   She is incredibly multidimensional and it’s time for that to be stated openly instead of implied.  So the two awful men she turned into her first set of walkers were?  One her significant other, the other a friend.  I take it that the horrible thing they did was turn, and take the life of her beloved child?  I don’t need the gory details, the implications were sad enough.  I hope tonight’s scenes of her flipping and clearing a field full of walkers is an indication that she has a much larger role to play in the second half of this season.  Will Michionne become the leader that Rick cannot allow himself to become when needed (his refusal to track down and kill the Governor, for example, before the Governor had time to plan that first large attack prior to Andrea’s death)?

I’m glad the returning scene focused on Michonne, Rick, and Carl.  She needs and desperately wants the child she lost.  Carl desperately wants a mother. Both Michonne and Carl became vulnerable and Rick took a step back. Between the two of them, maybe they’ll save each other.  BRILLIANT!

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