Credit: Gene Page/AMC Photo: Rick and Carl in the Garden on The Walking Dead Season 4

UPDATE: Four brief teasers for the second half of Season 4 aired during the New Year's Eve TWD marathon, and one featured Carl enjoying his own little horror movie with a walker behind a door. We’re guessing that’s directly from Episode 9, but it’s not made clear. Watch that new clip below, and check out the other videos over here.  

Original story:

Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) has truly changed — for better or worse — from the sweet little boy who stared in awe at the deer in The Walking Dead Season 2. Would the Carl of Season 4 ever see that deer as anything other than dinner?

At the end of Season 4, Episode 8, Carl was seen leading his severely injured father, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), away from the carnage of the prison. Rick said don’t look back, just keep walking. Where will they walk to?

What’s next for Carl is probably very close to what’s next for Rick, since the Episode 9 sneak peek and promo suggest the midseason premiere will follow the Grimes boys. Andy also told TVLine of Chandler’s Carl, “Episode 9 is his episode. It’s so cool.”

The first sneak peek AMC shared is entirely Carl-centric. It shows him leading two walkers away from a house. What is our child soldier doing now?

*Comic book spoilers ahead*

Comic book writer/executive producer Robert Kirkman wrote Episode 9 and he said it would closely follow the comics. In the books, Rick and Carl take shelter at a nearby house after the prison battle. Rick is in bad shape and takes a big dose of antibiotics and Carl finds him unconscious, which would fit with the "wake up" tease in the promo.

Also in the comics, some walkers bang on the front door and Carl leads them away, just like in the sneak peek. Carl gains some independence, but he also blames Rick for the loss of his family. Remember, Episode 8 left Rick and Carl both thinking baby Judith was dead. But Rick and Carl need each other and we may see some bonding through it all. Carl clearly doesn’t see himself as one of the kids anymore, but he isn’t quite an adult either.

In the comics, Rick and Carl eventually run into Michonne, and then they find Glenn and Maggie (who are separated in the TV version). The group heads back to Hershel's farm, they meet three new characters, and they decide to hit the road together to reach Washington, D.C.

Who knows how the TV version will tell these stories with so many more groups spread out than in the books, but one of the three new characters is Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz). In the comics, Abraham has a kind of uneasy start with the group, but he, Rick and Carl end up detouring together to Rick’s old hometown. They run into Morgan Jones (Lennie James), who is supposed to return at some point in Season 4. Maybe they won’t have a trio visit his town again since they did a version of that last season, but who knows. On the way to the town, bandits attack and try to rape Carl (!) but Rick and Abraham bond after Abraham helps to free Carl.

Do you think the TV show will go down a road like that or is it too dark? They skipped Michonne’s rape storyline (thankfully) but maybe an attempt like this on Carl would accentuate how frightening the world of humans has become. (The Hunters will also help with that, if/when we get to them.)

If TWD follows any of the comics, Carl has a long and interesting road ahead, including some quality time with this guy Negan. Try to get used to Carl, since he will probably outlive everyone.

The Walking Dead Season 4 returns on Sunday, February 9 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.