If you’re still heartbroken over the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead last fall, let February 25 be your last grasp at goodbyes. The mid-season return of the AMC zombie drama will be an extended episode, clocking in at 82 minutes, which will serve as Chandler Riggs’s final performance as Carl Grimes.
On February 25, the ninth episode of The Walking Dead Season 8 will run at 82 minutes, adding to the handful of extended-length The Walking Dead episodes which have become a staple for the series. The episode will star Riggs play Carl Grimes, the son of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) for the final time.
In the mid-season finale that aired in December, Carl revealed he was bit by a walker while trying to extend an olive branch to a stranded survivor, Siddiq, who (presumably) has no ties to enclaves like the Hilltop or the Saviors. The moment Carl revealed his wound ended the episode, which left Carl’s fate ambiguous — for a moment. Riggs later told The Hollywood Reporter that Carl was doomed to die by his wounds.
“Yes, Carl is going to die,” Riggs said. “There’s no way he can get back from that. His story is definitely coming to an end.”
But it’s not over yet. With still one more episode left to go, executive producer Greg Nicotero — who directed the next episode — says Carl’s goodbye will be a meaningful tearjerker than an off-screen burial. “I think it’s one of our most powerful episodes that we’ve ever produced,” Nicotero told Entertainment Weekly. “When I watched the first cut of this episode, tears were coming out of my eyes 20 minutes into it.”
“It’s a beautiful episode and the people that clearly are upset about losing Carl and questioning where the show goes without Carl — I really do believe that a lot of people will put those feelings aside when they watch this episode because they’re really going to get an opportunity to make some peace with it,” Nicotero added.
So if Carl is out, what of those Old Man Rick theories? Throughout Season 8 of The Walking Dead, soft-focused scenes feature our heroes Rick, Michonne, little Judith, and Carl, alive and well, living peacefully in Alexandria. No Saviors, no walkers, no suffering. Fans think these scenes are either peeks at the future or fantasies that Rick has allowed himself to indulge while burdened by the nightmare of warring with the Saviors.
With Carl gone, it seems Old Man Rick is just a playful fantasy.
The Walking Dead will return to AMC on February 25 at 9 p.m. Eastern.