Credit: Gene Page/AMC Photo: Rick and Carl Grimes Attack the Walker Horde in The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 5: “Internment”

When we first met Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) on The Walking Dead, he was with his mom Lori and Dad’s best friend Shane. That must seem like almost an idyllic time in Carl’s mind, at this point. When Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) showed up alive it was a miracle, but he quickly made a series of questionable decisions that even hero-worshipping Carl couldn’t ignore.

It was pretty clear how much Carl resented his father’s choices when he used Rick’s (lack of) actions as part of his own defense for the Season 3 shooting of that Woodbury kid. Now it’s Season 4 in the post-prison aftermath, and Carl blames his dad not just for the Season 3 death of Lori, but for the loss of the prison and his little sister Judith, whom he assumes is gone.

“I don’t need you anymore,” he told his sleeping dad in Episode 9. “You couldn’t protect Judith, you couldn’t protect Hershel, or Glenn, or Maggie, Michonne, Daryl. Or Mom. You just wanted to plant vegetables. You just wanted to hide. He [The Governor] knew where we were and you didn’t care. … They’re all gone now, because of YOU. They counted on you. You were their leader. But now, you’re nothing. … I’d be fine if you died.”

By the end of the episode, Carl realized he still needed — or at least wanted — his dad, but Rick finally had to acknowledge that his son wasn’t a child anymore. “Carl, you’re a man. You’re a man. I’m sorry.”  

Andrew Lincoln talked to Entertainment Weekly about the fundamental change in Rick’s relationship with Carl. “It’s a massive thing, to feel that you’re a failure in your son’s eyes,” Andy said. “And behind all the fear and leaving him behind is the fact that he knows, he calls him out. He knows exactly what the boy thinks: He thinks I’m a failure and that I made the wrong call again and I cost everyone’s lives. Of course, he carries it. That’s Rick, that’s what he does. He takes responsibility for everything on the planet. It’s part of his curse but also his strength. That’s why people follow him.”

Andy said every man relates to a story like this; as someone told him a long time ago, “You never get bigger to your father.” “So much of being a teenager is about finding your own voice,” he added, “finding your own way, including your parents.”

It’s tough to go through adolescence, period, never mind in the zombie apocalypse when you keep losing the people you love and the shelter you need for stability. This isn’t just happening to Carl, and we’re curious to see what’s next for Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika Samuels (Kyla Kenedy) — who aren’t much younger than Carl — and Beth Greene (Emily Kinney), who isn’t much older. Part of their journey should be coming next on Episode 10.

Are you sad to see Carl lose so much respect for Rick? They’re in a decent place now, but do you think Rick will be able to win back Carl’s trust by the end of the season? Don’t forget that we’re meant to see another turn in their relationship by the end of the season.

The Walking Dead Season 4 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

Source: Entertainment Weekly