Episode 8 of season 8 of the AMC show met with backlash over the shock ‘kill’ of one of the central characters. Episode 9 had to do this infamous choice justice and execute the mid-season premiere well to engage the fading fans.
For me, a mid-season premiere needs to be action packed and exciting whilst delivering emotionally. I felt the episode dragged too much and although it hit well with some elements of Carl’s eventual death, this ultimately could have been condensed. If Carl had been bitten and killed in the same episode, this amount of ‘dragging’ would have been perfectly acceptable because the audience would still be shocked. The previous episode aired in December, so fans have already accepted Carl’s death and in a sense gotten over it. The episode was emotional, but fans may be easily bored by the amount AMC dragged out Carl’s pointless death.
I liked the vision element that had been an underlying theme through season 8 and for it to be revealed as Carl’s dream. From Negan’s appearance in this dream suggests to me that Rick may not kill Negan and imprison him like in the comics, in which Carl was an essential force for. I personally like Negan but feel the poor writing was centred around his introduction and its aftermath which is a shame as Negan’s character is really intriguing.
I felt that the kingdom plot-line of the episode had great potential to be good, but would have been executed better (no pun intended) if the death of Gavin was carried out initially as more of a fight between himself and Morgan. I didn’t mind Gavin being killed by Henry as that was quite chilling with Ezekiel and Carol arguing against it, but a physical fight could have added a bit more to this plotline.
I personally still can’t wrap my head around why they decided to kill of Carl who has an essential and interesting character arc in the comic which suggests it was purely for shock factor and to entice back their stumbling viewership. In this sense, it is poor writing and just to get people talking (much like Glenn’s fake-out death back in season 6) from which I’d have hoped they’d learn their lesson.
Overall, I feel killing off Carl was a terrible move by the writers, but the sequences featuring Carl in mundane life was quite touching. I felt the episode dragged too much for a mid-season premiere and could have had potential for so much more. In terms of the future of the show particularly, I feel they need to either start wrapping it up as plots are being constantly repeated or for there to be an end goal such as finding a cure.