Chandler Riggs talked to Rolling Stone about his character, who has evolved a great deal from the little kid we met in Season 1. Chandler was only 10 when he first stepped on the Walking Dead set, and in last week’s Season 4 premiere you can not only see his growth, you can hear it in his voice.
But Carl is hitting his teen years in the zombie apocalypse, and he’s struggling a bit. He lost his childhood buddy in Sophia, and had to put down both his father figure, Shane, and his own mother, Lori. It would be more than understandable to see him break down (like his father did), but Carl has become frighteningly stoic about this whole death thing, like it’s all a big video game. Even The Governor went to pieces over the death of his already-dead daughter, but Carl just holds it in.
During the Season 3 finale, Carl shot a young Woodbury attacker who was in the process of putting his gun down. Hershel told Rick that Carl gunned the boy down, but Carl defended himself with strong words.
Rolling Stone told Chandler it seemed like Carl was “becoming a bit of a sociopath, to which Chandler responded, "I can see what he's thinking, and I actually don't see the craziness in him. When all the fans gave me a hard time about Carl killing that kid in the woods, apparently no one listened to that whole monologue I said to Rick explaining why I killed him.”
Oh no, we listened. But what we heard was blame deflection — it’s not my fault, I had to kill or be killed, I didn’t want to make YOUR mistake, Dad, which got MOM killed. It wasn’t quite a fair argument. Carl tried to compare it to Season 2 when he didn’t kill the walker that killed Dale, leaving out 1) that he baited that walker by throwing rocks at it, which is the only reason it became a threat, and 2) shooting a surrendering human being is not quite the same as shooting a walker. Carl also tried to drop a guilt bomb on his dad, saying he couldn’t risk letting the kid live like Rick let Andrew live — leading to the deaths of T-Dog and Lori. It’s true that Rick made a bad call, but he already went through that grief-and-guilt depression and Andrew’s sabotage only indirectly killed Lori; she died from giving birth.
Besides, Rick’s mistake was leaving a threatening man to fend for himself, Carl’s was in taking the life of a man who was no longer in a position to be a threat. That’s a much bigger deal.
Anyway, Chandler is more empathetic with Carl’s point of view, as he probably needs to be to play the character. As he continued to Rolling Stone, “I really don't see him as a psychopath. Another thing is Carl had to adapt to the environment around him. Rick, he kills people all the time. You've got to grow up some time. That's kind of what Season 4 comes back to. With all these fences around him, Carl might be able to find his humanity."
Wait, does Rick kill people all the time? That doesn’t sound fair. That’s probably not the message Rick wants to give to Carl, but it’s not like Carl is Joffrey on Game of Thrones. He’s not sadistic or evil, he’s just trying to adapt to this environment, as Chandler says. Maybe Carl will get closer to people this season and not be as detached and cold as he became — for self-preservation’s sake — last year.
At least we certainly hope that's the case: Rick recently gave his only son back his gun after taking it away for a bit, and we aren't entirely convinced that Carl is ready for it back. Did anyone else get a bad feeling when he was alone in the woods with Hershel scouring for elderberries?
What do you think? Is this world making Carl too stone cold, or is he adapting the way he needs to if he’s going to survive? Vote below!
Source: Rolling Stone