Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's midseason premiere, "Honor."
As Walking Dead viewers have been well aware since Season 8's mid-year finale, Carl Grimes was destined to shuffle off this mortal coil, which placed the season-opening Old Rick scenes in a new light. As Carl's final moments played out, we learned those "flash-foward" moments were actually Carl's idealized future for Rick and the others, meant to convince his dad to trade wartime for peace. Speaking with Chandler Riggs during a conference call with several other press outlets, I asked what he thought about that big reveal. (As well as Negan's later appearance, which comes later.)
You know, I think when me and everyone else saw the first episode with the flash-forward, that's kinda what I thought they were, were flash-forwards. When I found out that they were Carl's visions and dreams of how life could be, I thought that was even cooler, because that means the reality that Carl is envisioning is definitely a possibility. It can happen if Rick listens to Carl and understands and sees his side of things.
As I'm sure it went for many other Walking Dead viewers, I was partially disappointed to learn that Happy Alexandria and its "Weird" Al songs and its owls and fairs were all just part of a fanciful dream delivered from someone's death bed. That disappointment is less about the way the story itself played out, and more about sincerely wanting to know that Alexandria is going to be rebuilt and that everyone will once again regain a sense of safety and comfort, for however temporary a time it may be. Strangely, I'm also disappointed that Rick's rapidly graying hair might not become a reality.
Everyone's opinions will differ when it comes to how the Old Rick scenes were used as foreshadowing. But "Honor" provided much significance and motivational verve for those washed-out moments. At least when it comes to changing how Rick and Michonne (and some others) perceive the All Out War, as well as conceiving different ways to achieve victory that don't just end in Savior corpses piled to the ceiling, with Negan and Lucille stuck to the top. Alas, it's "how it could be," and not "how it will be," so the jury is out on how close to reality Carl got.
The midseason premiere's extended trip into the faux future gave fans another big moment to think about with a last-minute reveal that Carl's vision for Rick's future also included a smiling and green-thumbed Negan. I asked Chandler Riggs about that moment as well, and he brought up how the villain's presence there hinted at the show possibly taking a more direct adaptation of Negan's future from the source material.
In the comics, Negan plays a huge role, and with him possibly surviving throughout the end of the war, it'll definitely be interesting to see how all the other characters react to him being such a big part of their lives. It'll be interesting. I actually don't know what's going to happen, because I don't get the scripts, but it'll be really interesting to see where the story goes.
As stated, Chandler Riggs didn't get any of the scripts for episodes beyond the midseason premiere, so he couldn't definitively speak for whether or not Scott Gimple and the creative team will keep Negan alive beyond the end of the war. (Comic fans know the interesting turns that came next.) Carl obviously hoped that Rick would not only spare Negan's life, but also that he wouldn't need to keep the big bad's legs permanently broken in order to do so, for instance. But the fact that Dream Negan isn't wearing leather or carrying a baseball bat also means Carl assumes Negan will soon be perfectly fine with making compromises with Rick for the good of the community. We're not holding our breath for that.
What did you guys think about the flash-forward reveal? Let us know, and tune into AMC every Sunday night for new Walking Dead episodes at 9:00 p.m. ET. Check out all the episode's saddest moments, as well as why we're not convinced Carl is gone forever, and head to our midseason premiere schedule to see all the new and returning shows that are on the way to a small screen near you.