The major conflict on this sixth season premiere of The Walking Dead — besides the one between the Alexandrians and the horde-of-a-thousand zombies — was between Rick Grimes and a character played by Ethan Embry named Carter. Carter basically represented the Alexandrian resistance to Rick taking over the community as leader.
He was also weak, and in one scene, Rick nearly killed him, but pulled back, knowing that Carter would eventually die anyway because he wasn’t strong enough to survive in their world. He wasn’t wrong. Carter was bitten by a walker in the same episode, and it was Rick who had to put Carter down because he was making too much noise.
Interestingly, however, Andrew Lincoln didn’t want to kill off the character because he liked Ethan Embry so much. Many of you may know him from his early-career roles in Can’t Hardly Wait, That Thing You Do! and Empire Records. He’s come a long way since then, however. He plays a drug-addicted, stalker ex-boyfriend on the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, and a few years ago, he was phenomenal in a little-seen twisted, black comedy called Cheap Thrills.
He’s a great actor, which is why Bryan Cranston cast him as the title character in Sneaky Pete, the Amazon series he produces. Andrew Lincoln agrees, according to The Walking Dead producer Greg Nicotero, who also directed the season premiere.
“On the day we had to kill him, Andy pulled me aside and goes, ‘You know this guy’s a real talent. We should probably keep him around,’ ” Nicotero recalled to Entertainment Weekly. “I was like, ‘You know we’re shooting his death scene, like, right now!’ ”
Lincoln essentially confirmed this in another interview with 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.”
I was bummed to see Embry killed off, too. The Walking Dead could’ve given him a transformative role on a high-profile series that could’ve put him squarely back in the game. He’s not exactly hurting for roles, however. He’s still got Grace and Frankie, as well as two small films currently in pre-production. I’m still waiting, however, for someone to reunite him onscreen with Jennifer Love Hewitt.