In the closing moments of the midseason finale of The Walking Dead, Carl pulls open a bandage to reveal that he has been bitten. In fact, it appears that was bitten two episodes ago while fighting off walkers with Siddiq. He was essentially among the walking dead during the entire episode, which is why he wrote that note to his father. It’s why he was willing to sacrifice himself to Negan. It’s why he took one last look at the note Enid left him. He was already all but dead.
Carl will die, but he’s not dead yet. His story is not quite done. According to Scott Gimple on tonight’s The Talking Dead, he still has an important story to tell.
“It will play out as we’ve seen bites play out. It’s very important to the story and to Carl’s story, and I am very focused on the fact that Carl is alive. He has some business to tend to. Yeah, it’s a one-way ticket, but I like to think that the things we see in the next episode are so important to his life, to everyone’s life.”
Chandler Riggs — who recently got a haircut for a movie role — confirmed as much on Twitter.
As Yvette Nicole Brown noted on The Talking Dead, “anytime anyone is the moral compass on a show, it scares me.” It seemed apparent from the opening moments in the episode, in the flashback between Rick and Carl, that Carl would not make it. Carl’s death is going to change the trajectory of the rest of the series, at least as it relates to the graphic novels, because Carl maintains a major presence in future issues of the comics. It’s going to knock “The Whisperer Wars” all out of whack. Here, Chandler Riggs was probably ready to leave the show, head to college, and move on with his life. Before then, however, we have at least one more episode with him.
The Walking Dead returns in February, when we will see the conclusion to Carl’s storyline. If in fact he died in that struggle with zombies with Siddiq, it will also makes Carl the longest surviving bit character ever (save for Hershel, who had his bitten leg amputated).