Whatever surprising deaths fans might have... expected during The Walking Dead Season 6 midseason finale that never happened, the series more than compensated for when Season 6 returned on Feb. 14. With Rick's new girlfriend and her two sons dying, most fans heaved a sigh of relief when Carl survived on The Walking Dead during the midseason premiere. Although Carl is not always a personal favorite of mine, or a fan favorite for that matter, I don't think Carl's father Rick — the number one leader of the zombie apocalypse — could have handled the death of his beloved son Cooooraaalll. But, is that what happened in the source material? Does Carl die in The Walking Dead comics?
In one of the most tense scenes in the TV series to date, during Feb. 14's "No Way Out," Jessie's youngest son Sam couldn't deal with the anxiety of walking among a horde of walkers. Both Jessie and Sam were subsequently bit and killed, leading Jessie's other son Ron to turn on Rick and try to shoot him. Michonne stabbed Ron with her katana in time to stop him from killing Rick, but the gun still went off and shot Carl in the eye. Rick obviously believed Carl had some chance of surviving (or was too overwhelmed with grief to think), since he rushed him to the infirmary to have Denise care for him.
After Rick went on a mega rampage of killing the zombies in Alexandria and taking back the town (he had a little bit of help), he returned to Carl recovering in his hospital bed. After giving an empowered speech where Rick said he wanted to show Carl the new, hopeful world (Rick Grimes for president!), Carl showed a sign of life by squeezing his dad's hand in one of the few "aww" worthy Walking Dead moments.
For now, it's safe to say that Carl will be alive on the show, even if fans have no idea how long it will take him to recover and how he will emotionally handle his physical disfigurement. Considering how well the Governor handled his one eye — yet again, courtesy of Michonne — I am worried for the inevitable mood swings from the already moody Carl Grimes. And if the series does follow the comics in regard to Carl, expect a more troubled Carl than usual.
In the graphic novel, Carl does lose an eye and survive — and is still alive in the most recent issues — but under slightly different circumstances. He is accidentally shot by Alexandria leader Douglas Monroe (who was swapped out for Deanna on the show), as a last ditch effort to kill more walkers as he was getting devoured. Carl's permanent scarring leads him to clash with his father in the comics, which is nothing new on the TV series, and he kind of-sort of forms a bond with the show's impending nemesis Negan. So the TV series seems to be following the basic trajectory of the comics by having Carl with a missing eye, but at least alive.
During Feb. 14's Talking Dead, host Chris Hardwick referenced how Carl losing his eye is from the comics and episode director Greg Nicotero made it clear that Carl surviving the bullet was modeled directly from the comics. "The wound was very important because we talked a lot with Robert [Kirkman, comic creator] about capturing what it look like in the graphic novel," Nicotero said. "So what we're saying is that the bullet hit here [indicated outer corner of his eye] and sent bone fragments into his eye and the bullet ricocheted outward."
While I am happy that like in the comics, Carl on the AMC series will survive to see another zombie-filled day, I do hope that his feelings toward his father when he wakes up won't be completely filled with resentment like in the graphic novel; I've seen enough angsty Carl to last me a lifetime. Yet with Negan fast approaching, I know deep down that Rick's Alexandria utopia will face another uphill battle soon enough and that he and Carl will continue to struggle with a healthy father-son relationship. But considering the survival rate of most kids on the show, Carl — even with one eye — has something to be thankful for.