No one — not even Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) or Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) — has changed more on The Walking Dead than Carl (Chandler Riggs). And we can expect more changes for Mini Monster Grimes in Season 5.
In Season 1, Carl was a pale little kid who did whatever Lori or Shane told him. He hero-worshipped both Shane and Rick, and grew increasingly frustrated with his mom’s protectiveness (when she even knew where he was). But Carl was also a sweetheart who didn’t want to stop looking for Sophia. And when he was shot, he only wanted to talk about the pretty deer. But Carl went through a change toward the end of Season 2 — and puberty, when paired with the zombie apocalypse, can create … well … a “monster.” He stole a gun, threw rocks at a walker, kept running off, had to shoot Shane, had to shoot his mom, and eventually shot that young Woodbury guy in the Season 3 finale. He rationalized it as what he had to do, but it sent him down a cold and dark Shane/Governor path.
Throughout Season 4, Rick, Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), and Michonne (Danai Gurira) worked hard to give Carl a normal “human” childhood — and it worked. Sort of. Carl is still Carl, and the darkness in Rick is also in his son. He showed flashes of anger after the midseason finale, but he also couldn’t bring himself to shoot his dad when he thought, once again, he would have to be the one to end the life of a loved one. He bonded with Michonne, who has done more than anyone to bring out the best in Carl, but he just had to suffer an attempted rape and was almost shot by a Termites — who called him “the boy.” He’s a man, now, Gareth!
Now the Grimes Guys are trapped in Terminus, but Carl 5.0 and Rick 5.0 are more than up to this latest challenge. A TV Guide reader speculated that Carl was going to go crazy on the cannibals on TWD Season 5. TV Guide noted that the producers haven’t even confirmed that cannibals are at Terminus, but we will see more action from Carl. Comic book writer/producer Robert Kirkman told the magazine, "Carl [is] in a pretty bad position locked in this train car at the mercy of other people, and that could lead to him being tested in other big ways. There's a lot of changes left for that kid to go through."
Just wait ‘til he meets Negan!
The Hollywood Reporter talked to showrunner Scott Gimple about everything Carl has had to go through this season. How will that change him, considering he’s already called himself a monster? “What's interesting and tragic — and this is something we were going for from the start of the season — is that he would wind up with a very mature self-awareness,” Scott said. “He's worried about being a monster, but the fact that he's worried about that is actually wonderful for this kid. At the end of Season 3, he wasn't worried about being a monster. He was almost proud of the rough things he's done. He said, ‘I did what I had to do,’ in the season finale. In this, he's straight-up worried about the things he's done. He's worried about what his father believes him to be. It's a subtle thing, but the fact that he's worried about his demons to me says he's conquered them, that he is a human being with a conscience.”
At least they gave Carl a chance to conquer his demons! Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) was considered too far gone, just because she was messed up about walkers — which only makes sense for a kid with extreme abandonment issues, since walkers always want to stay with you and they’ll never die and leave you.
Anyway, Carl is not done growing, but it does sound like he is on a more mature, self-aware path. What changes are ahead for Carl, do you think? Do you hope he’s hiding a secret weapon under his hat in that train car? Someone has to make a move in there, maybe it will be him…
The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October on AMC.
Sources: TV Guide, The Hollywood Reporter