*Comic book spoilers ahead*
As you probably know, The Walking Dead is based on a comic book series written by TV show executive producer Robert Kirkman. But there are always big and small differences between the two and showrunner Scott Gimple has been calling Season 4 a “remix” of the comics. One major example of that just played out in Episode 14, “The Grove,” which was written by Scott.
There was also a child killer storyline in the comics. Ben and Billy were 5-year-old twins, “adopted” by Dale and Andrea, who were still alive at this post-prison point in the comics. Ben was the messed-up one, like Lizzie on TV, and he ended up killing his brother. In the books, the adults debated what to do about Ben, but it was young Carl Grimes who took action and secretly killed Ben in the night.
Robert Kirkman talked to TheWalkingDead.com about why they changed that aspect of the story for TV. “In the comics, it’s Carl who ends up killing the other kid, but having it be such an emotional thing for Carol and having it be so intertwined with everything that was going on with her this season and everything that had been in her backstory for the life of the show, I think it really is just a testament to what can come out of working in this writers’ room and the TV process. This is another one of those moments where the events of the comic happened and existed, but everything that’s been changed for the show is definitely for the better. It’s shining examples of what can be done when we adapt things and alter things from the comic. And I think it turned out well. It’s definitely a gut-puncher of an episode.” Truth.
It made more sense for the TV story to give the task to Carol, he said, especially when she lost Sophia in Season 2. That’s another massive change from the books. (In the comics, Carol died at the prison and Sophia is still alive.)
“In the comics, Carol doesn’t lose Sophia, and there’s just too much story potential in the idea of this mother who loses her daughter and then has a surrogate daughter that she then has to kill for reasons beyond her control,” RK continued. “There’s too much good story potential there to avoid that. And once we hit upon that, it was pretty clear that that was the direction the story would go. There are certain things on the road to Carl’s evolution that are important benchmarks that push him along on his journey, and the Ben and Billy situation was definitely one of them, but the show is doing well and is theoretically going to go for a while, and there are a lot of things Carl’s going to have to do that can replace that situation and affect him in possibly better ways. There’s always room to explore those possibilities, and I don’t really feel like I lost anything by taking this situation from Carl and giving it to Carol.”
Did you hear that? Carl isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. His journey will continue, just on a slightly different path from his comic book character. He’s still probably going to connect with Negan, though, don’t you think? Last summer, showrunner Scott Gimple praised the Negan/Carl comics story, so it’s hard to imagine they won’t touch on that on TV, whether in Season 5 or further down the road.
Do you think they made the right call to give the child killer burden to Carol? It does make sense with this particular story, but what will they make Carl do that’s equally life-changing?
The Walking Dead Season 4 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.