It’s pretty safe to say that killing off Carl is supposed to be the big focal point of “The Walking Dead” season eight.
This is intended as a big shock moment, where Rick Grimes gains some new emotional baggage to make him cool and edgy, preparing him for darker times ahead. This is supposed to be a watershed moment, in which “The Walking Dead” takes a narrative turn as part of an attempt to excite and engage audiences.
It’s such a shame, then, that AMC couldn’t help but ruin this shock twist several weeks ago at the end of the mid-season finale.
It’s easy to understand the logic behind this move. The hope is that audiences will get caught up in the buzz surrounding Carl’s death, and that fans who’ve not been watching the show recently will come back again in order to watch this important character’s ultimate fate.
In practice, though, people have already grieved for Carl. There’s no reason to tune in, because we learned weeks ago that he was going to die.
This isn’t a big surprise for those who are watching the show regularly, and it doesn’t work as a trick to get lapsed viewers to tune in again because they’ve already made the decision to stop watching. If anything, this is more incentive to stay away, because “The Walking Dead” is clearly disregarding the few characters that have been with the show from the beginning in favor of coming up with new ideas that will be completely foreign to older fans.
It feels like “The Walking Dead” has been on the decline for a while. Sometimes, shaking things up can help to fix a show, but the way that Carl’s death has been handled makes it very difficult for fans to actually care.
Once the shock of knowing that Carl would die was already out there, people were just eager for him to bow out so they could see what would happen next. Trying to drag this whole mess out for as long as possible has made the show, if anything, less appealing to the fans of Carl that the writers were trying to shock by killing off the character.
For those who haven’t already given up on “The Walking Dead”, now seems like as good a time as any to bow out. This show is clearly just spinning its wheels at this point, so perhaps it’s best to give up now before more of these gimmick deaths start spoiling the fun to a greater degree.