Credit: Gene Page/AMC Photo: Rick Glances at Carl on The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 4

The Season 4 midseason opener of The Walking Dead showed us just how much three members of the former Team Prison were affected by the events of the midseason finale, namely Hershel Greene’s (Scott Wilson) death and the destruction of their home. We’ve already talked a bunch about Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) past, but what about Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs)? In Episode 9, viewers saw a marked change in their father-son relationship, which is further dissected in the behind-the-scenes video below.

“These characters lost everything,” TWD comic book creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman says of our beloved survivors. And out of the three survivors we saw during this episode, no one was worse off than Rick. “He’s not only physically battered, he’s psychological bereft,” Andrew explains. “He’s so fearful for his son because he’s so weak, and you see a man that’s trying to reassert that role in an aggressive, protective manner.”

But as co-executive producer Gale Anne Hurd notes, reasserting that complete control over his son won’t be so easy. “Carl sees himself as actually a superior survivor to his own father,” she says.

And what’s Chandler’s take on his character’s anger? “I think Carl is showing so much defiance and anger towards his dad because he blames a lot of what happened to the prison on his dad.” Even showrunner Scott Gimple agrees, saying, “He’s angry about losing the prison, he’s angry about losing his loved ones.”

We were pretty surprised when Carl told his sleeping pops he wouldn’t care if he died, but Robert says there was another line, said directly to conscious Rick, that was a real zinger. When Rick questions the strength of his son’s knot, Carl snaps, “Shane taught me. Remember him?” Robert explains this dig, noting, “He wants to push his dad’s buttons, and he feels like that is the wound that can really get at his father.”

Summing up this episode Andrew says, “It’s very much about a boy becoming a man, and a man accepting that.” By the end of the installment we’re lead to believe that Rick has accepted Carl’s maturity and the episode even ends on a lighter note, with Michonne knocking on the door of Rick and Carl’s new home. As executive producer Dave Alpert concludes, “The human spirit’s all about hope, and as long as we can find that little shred of hope, even in the most dour situations, it somehow is inspiring.”

Were you inspired when Michonne found Rick and Carl in the episode’s final moments? Tell us your thoughts below!

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