As fans have come to accept, albeit unhappily, tonight is the night The Walking Dead says goodbye to Carl. As a staple from the first episode, it’s hard to imagine the series without him, and we aren’t the only ones who think so. From Andrew Lincoln and Lennie James to Katelyn Nacon, his friends turned family have been wishing Chandler (a too sad and too soon) farewell.
From the very first episode where Rick wakes up and begins his mission to find his son, to the last time we saw them where the realization came across his face that he was going to lose him; Carl’s presence has been a driving force. A force that gave Rick and the group reason to move forward. He was the promise of a future, a voice to carry on a legacy, he was hope.
As fans of the series know, death isn’t always goodbye, and not because of that whole reanimation thing. The spirits of the ones we’ve lost always seem to find their way back. In memories and in dreams, in promises and in decisions, the impact they’ve left motivates the survivors to keep pushing forward.
In terms of Carl, his death will cause a big change, especially in Rick. One so important that the future of the series rides on it. We’re still coping with the fact that it’s taking the loss of Carl for it to happen, but the look at Rick’s future, where he seems to have found peace, it comes from his son.
It proves that there is life after this war, there’s a future and it’s worth fighting for – or more importantly – finding peace within. It’s a noble way for Carl’s character to go out, he didn’t have to die in a blaze of glory or in a showdown with Negan. The way he’s leaving means much more to his character.
It was almost self-sacrificing, the way Carl has chosen to spend his time. Knowing that the end was drawing near, he tried to be a positive force for his father, spend time with those he loves, and say goodbye in the only way he knew how. By encouraging the survivors to find a way to the end, to find a way to live, and to do so without so much senseless violence and death.
So while it’s hard to say goodbye, we wanted to give Carl – and Chandler – a send-off of our own.
Thank you for the years growing up on screen, giving us a character unlike any others. Carl’s most precious years were spent in the throes of an apocalypse but he still managed to retain hope for a future much bigger than that.
His most precious moments, approaching the transition between life and death will be spent surrounded by love but more importantly inspiring love in others. The light and life of so many characters have diminished as time went on and he wants nothing more than to give that back.
As we said before, Carl’s legacy will be carried on in the hearts of those he leaves behind. In Rick and his journey to find reason, in Michonne and her already brave heart. In Daryl and his road to forgiveness, in Maggie and how she’ll raise her own child, in Enid and what shapes her future, and in every other character – he’ll be part of them forever.
Much like Carl, much of Chandler’s life has been spent in front of a camera, missing out on what most kids would have a hard time saying goodbye to. However, in building Carl’s character, in bringing him depth and vulnerability – he’s paved the way for a bright future for himself. We, like his loved ones around him, can’t wait to see what he does next.
We’re looking forward to seeing Chandler at conventions this year and seeing the interaction between himself and his fans. It’ll mean more than ever before.
So goodbye, for now, but we know this is hardly the end.
‘…but I knew him’