Credit: Gene Page/AMC Photo: Carl Runs Away in The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 2: “Infected”

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) has been down before on The Walking Dead, but he’s never been down like this.

After his wife Lori died in Season 3, Rick even went to Crazy Town, where he got phone calls from dead people. But Season 4 showrunner Scott Gimple told TV Guide the loss of Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), the prison and — Rick assumes — baby Judith, will “hit [Rick] in a way that we haven't seen before.”

Poor Rick. We know he’s in seriously bad physical shape from the mid-season finale Governor (David Morrissey) battle, and Rick and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) both sobbed when they saw Judith’s empty, bloody car seat. Carl and Rick were last seen hobbling away from the prison, with Rick telling Carl not to look back.

Scott said the Grimes boys will be on their own for a while after the prison battle. The promo and Episode 9 sneak peek hint to Rick essentially being a hot mess and Carl looking determined to be the boss.

"If it's just the two of them, [Carl is] going to have to step up quite a bit because circumstances are wildly different and a lot will depend on him in terms of them just surviving,” Scott said. “They don't have an awesome, dual-layer fence and brick buildings to hide behind. They're out in the world."

Comic book writer/executive producer Robert Kirkman said Episode 9 would pretty closely follow the comics, where Rick and Carl do exit the prison battle and take shelter in a nearby home. So at least it sounds like they’ll have a place to stay, even if Carl will probably have to be in charge of clearing the place of walkers. Speaking of “clear,” we keep expecting to revisit that other guy in deep mourning, Morgan, so don’t forget to look out for him in the back half of the season.

Anyway, we expect the very first episode of 2014 to be heavy on the Carl sauce. As Andrew Lincoln told TVLine of Chandler Riggs’ character, “Episode 9 is his episode. It’s so cool.”

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

Source: TV Guide