At the start of The Walking Dead Season 4, our protagonist Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was all about being zen. He had traded in his gun for gardening tools and an iPod, and instead of killing walkers in his free time Rick toiled away in his garden, creating new life as opposed to taking it away.
But bit by bit, Rick’s calm new lifestyle was stripped from him. With walkers surrounding the prison’s fence he was forced to arm himself and give his son Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) his gun back, and when Karen and David were killed, a grief-stricken Tyreese tasked the former cop with solving the murder mystery. In one of his most important and likely controversial decisions to date, Rick expelled Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) from Team Prison when he figured out she was responsible for the murders.
Like it or not, Rick is more or less back to his walker-fighting self, and in Season 4, Episode 5: “Internment” a horde that came towards the prison through a hole in the fence meant that Rick needed to spring into action. And fast.
Rick reluctantly gave his son Carl an assault rifle (after the quickest lesson in how to use a firearm ever) and soon the father-son duo were taking out walkers side-by-side. He clearly wasn’t proud of the decision, but in Rick’s mind it was the only feasible way to stop the walkers from invading Team Prison’s already weak home.
As co-executive producer Denise Hurth explains of Rick’s choice, “It’s an interesting thing with Rick because I think you see a sense of pride with how good Carl is, but at the same time it’s the heartbreak of here is my kid, with a machine gun in his hands, mowing down this threat.”
Andrew also sees the heartbreak in Rick’s choice. “It’s the final admission of failure,” he begins. “I think Carl subconsciously understands that.”
Given Carl’s questionable history with weapons (RIP, innocent Woodbury dude Carl shot after he surrendered) we don’t know that Carl is the best keeper of the rifle, but we understand that Rick did what he felt was necessary given the circumstances.
Do you think Rick was right to give his young son such a powerful weapon? Vote below!
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.