Spoilers for the Season 6 premiere of The Walking Dead are below.
On Sunday night, a lot of people tuned into “First Time Again,” the Season 6 premiere episode of The Walking Dead, which means a lot of people were probably shocked to find Ethan Embry’s Carter getting his face chewed up by a walker seemingly attached to a tree. While it was never expressly stated, most viewers thought that Carter would be around for a while, and that totally would have been the case if Andrew Lincoln had his way.
Here’s how special effects master and premiere director Greg Nicotero explained it to EW.
And of course the day we had to kill [Embry}, Andy pulled me aside and goes, ‘You know this guy’s a real talent, we should probably keep him around.’ I was like, ‘You know we’re shooting his death scene, like, right now!’
Pro tip: it’s definitely not the best time to fight for someone’s worth when they’re minutes away from getting their flesh ripped away and taking a knife to the throat. But it’s an understandable feeling, to want to keep your workplace filled with the most amount of talent possible.
Over the years, The Walking Dead has done a great job of mixing up-and-coming actors with others who have been in the industry for decades, and Embry seemed like an actor prominent enough to survive and butt heads with Rick for as long as possible. Perhaps that recognizance played its own role in the surprise that followed his death knell, which was basically just him hollering as loudly as possible and attracting tons of walkers.
To be fair, though, Andrew Lincoln has been known to second guess the decisions to kill characters off. Here’s how he explained his feelings about Embry getting killed off to EW.
He was a brilliant actor. It’s that thing I say every time we kill someone off: ‘Do we really have to take this guy down?’ Because he’s amazing, and also he gave voice to the rebellion that was happening in Alexandria, and did it so well, so grounded. I really bought the fact that he was a working man, but someone who wasn’t willing to concede to this maniac Rick.
Thankfully, his death wasn’t completely in vain, and it will serve as a fracture in Rick and Morgan’s relationship. As well, it may be an impetus for action by the group that Carter was talking to, although those side effects may fester with time and explode later in the season. One thing’s for sure: Rick isn’t everyone’s best friend.
Lincoln has been vocal about other major factors in The Walking Dead, and tried to bring the comic Rick’s missing hand to the TV series in the past. We’ll see just how big the ripple effect of Carter’s death plays into the show when The Walking Dead continues Season 6 on Sundays on AMC.