Spoilers below for The Walking Dead's midseason finale, "Honor."
At the end of its sixth season, The Walking Dead dropped the mother of all cliffhangers on viewers with Negan's introduction, spurring an endless amount of conversations from fans dying to know answers. Skip forward a year and a half, and the AMC drama delivered arguably its biggest tragedy yet with Carl's death, but barely anybody was talking about beforehand. How did that happen? Apparently, Scott Gimple and his creative team decided to keep Carl's initial walker bite a secret from everyone at the time. Here's how Chandler Riggs put it:
Chandler Riggs was speaking to press via conference call ahead of the midseason premiere, and he shared that surprisingly simple tactic taken by The Walking Dead producers to ensure the integrity of Carl's final arc. The scene in question took place in Episode 6, titled "The King, The Widow, and Rick," when Carl was attempting to guide new survivor Siddiq back to Alexandria. The pair were attacked by a small pack of walkers, with the actual "bite" moment not appearing until the midseason finale. Even though the edited scene felt a little off at the time, that was also an episode where Jadis made Rick strip to his boxers and held him captive in a shipping container, so everyone can be forgiven for not immediately assuming that seemingly old-hat attack would change every dynamic on the show.
And it seems like there were probably a lot of folks on The Walking Dead who also didn't assume anything too horrifying about that fateful scene. Honestly, is there a more simple and cost-effective way to cloak a major show spoiler than to just not write it in the script? No one would even need to hide those script pages from anyone else in that case, and it would also draw less outside attention to that area of production in general, since that scene outwardly just looked like a run-of-the-mill Walking Dead moment in the woods.
It would have been pretty incredible had The Walking Dead been able to keep Carl's injury and Chandler Riggs' exit a secret from all the actors until the day of filming Episode 8, "How It's Gotta Be," so that fans could see the characters' most genuine reactions. That would likely have to be in deleted scenes, since no one would likely be able to stay in character for something like that, but that would be a hell of a workday for all involved. One has to wonder how often The Walking Dead uses this tactic, too.
During the aforementioned conference call, Chandler Riggs talked about a lot of different topics, including what he thought about the flash-forward reveal, and he also admitted that Carl's whole "aiming a gun using his bandaged eyehole" gaffe was purposefully his doing. And when I asked about possibly seeing Carl again in future Season 8 moments, I got something of a surprising answer, though we'll have to wait and see on that.
For its next episode, The Walking Dead will be giving the Saviors more time to shine, as Simon will be given a special mission. Check out an intense clip for "The Lost and the Plunderers," and don't forget to watch The Walking Dead Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. Then head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way.