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Major spoilers below for The Walking Dead's Season 8 midseason premiere, so be sure to watch before reading on.
Though some fans were hoping against all hopes that Carl Grimes would somehow survive his walker bites and outlive most others in Team Family, the teen survivor did indeed join the choir invisible before the credits rolled. And for all intents and purposes, "Honor" may very well be the last time we see Carl outside of repeats. However, when Chandler Riggs recently spoke with CinemaBlend and other outlets for a conference call, I asked the actor if he'd filmed any Season 8 scenes intended for use in future episodes. And it was a case of silence potentially speaking volumes. In his words:
I can't really say. There's um...[laughs] Yeah, I'm sorry, I can't really say anything.
I'll immediately play the devil's advocate here by stating the obvious: an absence of proof here is not proof of Carl's non-absence during one or more future moments in Season 8, or even beyond that. The Walking Dead is known for having one of the most secretive productions in TV, and its foreknowledge-eschewing tactics extend to how the cast and crew respond to interview questions. So it's possible that even if Chandler Riggs hadn't filmed any additional scenes at all, the intention could exist to inspire fan speculation over whether or not we'd see him again, in a way perhaps similar to Michael Cudlitz's mysterious cameo in the Season 7 finale. After all, we're going to do it anyway, especially after Morales returned earlier this season.
Now let's push that devil's advocate junk aside and read between a few lines. Had Chandler Riggs quickly and sternly stated that he wasn't able to talk about any of the future episodes, it would have felt far more like a planned response. However, there was hesitance and stammering, and that tilted the scales for being optimistic about Carl showing up again in some way.
The most likely scenario would be through a flashback scene with Rick remembering happier times, or possibly he and/or other characters being inspired by other onscreen memories of Carl's empathetic and non-aggressive nature. (Obviously not about the time where he failed to kill that walker that murdered Dale, because that certainly not a good memory.) A handful of short and sweet moments like that would be a thoughtful way to honor not only Carl's legacy on the show, but also the significance of his final words and wishes for Rick. That approach could even allow for the character's appearances to go beyond the end of this season, since it's not like Rick is going to stop mourning his kid just because the All Out War is over.
Alternately, we could possibly see the Old Rick dream-future coming back around again if Rick does manage to secure a victory against Negan by whatever means necessary. The elder Grimes could have a late-game daydream of that idealized Alexandria, where Carl is inexplicably still living and breathing and available for Rick to embrace and talk to. That would ultimately be a more heartbreaking way to handle it, but it could work.
I'd first asked Chandler Riggs if there were any memorable scenes that were shot this season that eventually got cut, either from "Honor" itself or any previous episodes. Apparently no such moments exist, but at least there's a good reason for it.
I don't think I had any big moments in Season 8 that got cut out. There's been a lot in the previous seasons that have gotten cut, but I think in this season they were really trying to preserve as much as they could for Carl.
A smart move to keep everything intact, since Carl has been shining more and more in recent seasons, which of course makes his death all the more inopportune and unwelcome. As such, his biggest fans will likely savor these final episodes for all they're worth. (I guess that sucks for anyone hoping for lots of deleted scenes on the Blu-ray.) We'll all likely appreciate the hell out of another one or two future visits from Carl as the show moves forward, too. So we'll just have to wait and see how it goes.
Is Carl gone forever? Will Chandler Riggs be seen once again in a flashback to that pudding episode? Find out when The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. Check out what Riggs told us about that flash-forward reveal, and then read up on the one thing he won't miss about working on the hit drama, as well as his favorite scene to film. Then, head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way in the coming weeks.