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Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's midseason finale.
Walking Dead fans were promised a shocking midseason finale with "How It's Gotta Be," and while opinions will always vary from one viewer to another, the episode was definitely one worthy of strong feelings. Speculation ran rampant over which character or characters would be meeting their makers, and there was definitely more than just one victim tonight. But by the end of the episode, it was revealed that Carl Grimes himself had been bitten by a walker and will not be surviving the duration of The Walking Dead.
Rumors were floating around that Carl was going to be killed off in the midseason finale, though nothing had been confirmed anywhere, even in the spoiler-loving communities, and even Chandler Riggs got into the fun. The episode played that up pretty heavily, too, starting with the season premiere flashbacks in the cold open, where Carl is telling Rick that there has to be a point where survival again becomes about more than just the "kill or be killed" mindset. And then he was getting misty-eyed looking at Enid's "Just Survive Somehow" note. That all became all the more meaningful later.
Whenever Negan showed up outside Alexandria's walls, an army behind him, ready to take on any rebellious Alexandrians. While the rebelling was done quietly inside, Carl stepped in and offered himself up as a sacrifice in order to keep some semblance of peace. Predictably, that became a barrage of explosions after Negan got word of Daryl's squad. And then the seemingly selfless and smoke-bomb-loving Carl became Negan's main target. But by the end, we realized why Carl was willing to offer himself up, since he was already set to die.
It was in those final moments, when Rick and Michonne made it down into the sewers where the rest of Alexandria's citizens (and Siddiq) were hiding out, that Carl revealed the walker bite marks on his side. And they weren't super-fresh, but they also weren't all healed up (obviously). So while Carl isn't technically dead yet, he isn't looking good, and he's not going to survive. Scott Gimple basically confirmed that on Talking Dead, while also saying Carl had some things to wrap up before actually dying.
Carl's death is going to be handled very differently across the Walking Dead fandom, since some have been calling for it for years, while others want Chandler Riggs on the show forever. It's impossible to deny that his reveal was one of the show's most shocking moments, and also one of its most beautifully handled. You can watch it in full below.
As far as other deaths go, Maggie and Jesus were leading a team to try and force a surrender out of the Saviors, but they were stopped by a fallen tree and the sudden arrival of Simon's crew. After making a big show of holding Jerry at gunpoint, Simon only actually killed the otherwise non-noteworthy Neil, whose presence in the car was most uncanny before his death ushered in our understanding. Elsewhere, Enid and Aaron headed to Oceanside to try and get some help from that community's women and their weapons. But when Natania struck Aaron and was seemingly going to kill him, Enid shot her in the back, which put our lowly heroes in an uncomfortable situation. It was more uncomfortable for the other Oceansiders, of course, who had just lost their leader to a pair of asshats whose group had only made things worse for everyone. But neither of those, nor that dipshit Savior that Maggie shot, can possibly add up to Carl's death.
90 minutes of madness later, The Walking Dead is suddenly gone from our lives for the next couple of months, with its return to AMC likely coming in on Sunday, February 25, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what other shows you can start up with in the meantime, head to our fall TV premiere schedule and our 2018 midseason premiere schedule.