Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8 midseason finale ahead! In the wake of the news that when The Walking Dead returns, Carl will die, fans are feeling a lot of feelings — but one of those is confusion. When was Carl bitten on The Walking Dead? The flashbacks, flashforwards, and jumping back and forth between stories this season makes the timeline a little difficult to track upon first viewing.
In the midseason finale, Carl returns to Alexandria with Siddiq only to find that the Saviors have escaped the Sanctuary and are planning to attack the walled community with grenades with no time to spare. There aren't that many walkers in the vicinity at that time, so it happened way before the actual finale.
The bite probably happened in Season 8, Episode 6 — "The King, The Widow, And Rick." The fact that this happened in an episode two weeks ahead of the reveal in the midseason finale makes it all the more surprising. Carl did not appear in Episode 7, the Eugene Variety Hour, so he has been marked for death for a while without the audience realizing.
It also makes a lot of sense in retrospect, as that is the episode that Chandler Riggs was rehearsing when he found out his character was being killed off the series, according to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. In the episode, Carl and Siddiq bond while traveling to Alexandria and are attacked by walkers. Clearly he was given the note that he gets bit in that episode, because you can see the actor play that realization out when you go back and rewatch.
Siddiq tells Carl that his mother believed that killing walkers helped the souls of the people they were in life move on, so he makes a point to take out as many as possible. "For your mom," says Carl as they go after the three undead munchers in the woods. Siddiq protests that he doesn't have to do this, but Carl stays. To his doom, apparently. During the scrape, two walkers descend upon him.
You can't see exactly which one takes the fatal bite. It might be that second one in the image above, but both had the opportunity. However, you can almost certainly see Carl check his side when he stands back up (below). Knowing what we know now, it's kind of devastating.
While it seems like Carl has been foreshadowing his future leadership role in the episode and generally throughout Season 8, taking responsibility for Siddiq and showing what he has an has not learned from his father, what's actually being foreshadowed is what Rick will ultimately learn from Carl before he dies.
We know that because Riggs previewed Season 8, Episode 9 in another interview with The Hollywood Reporter. His character's final storyline, he said, "is really Carl trying to teach Rick as much as he can about what he's learned and trying to convince Rick to not kill every single Savior because there's still good people out there. The Alexandrians, the Hilltop and the Kingdom — all those people probably see him as a villain like the Saviors. There's some humanitarian aspects that Carl is going to try and teach Rick in his final moments." Siddiq isn't even a Savior, but Rick was not willing to trust any new people at this point in the story. Hopefully Carl can change that and set him back on a more compassionate path as a leader.
That said, it might be difficult for Rick to believe that Carl made a good decision recruiting Siddiq to Alexandria and going after walkers with him as it's the reason he is (as good as) dead. With all that Carl has been through on The Walking Dead, it's sad that this nice gesture (and something so simple as a zombie in this apocalypse) is what got him in the end. Let's hope that his efforts and his death are not ultimately in vain.