The Walking Dead Carl

Talk about the need to escape. Within the first few minutes of The Walking Dead’s mid-season return, “Honor,” Carl’s long, extended goodbye reveals that Rick’s dreamy visions of a peaceful time that have played all season long are just mere daydreams. They are not a possible future after the Saviors, they are a life had the Saviors never been such murderous jerks.

In “Honor,” the Season 8 return of The Walking Dead, the episode reveals that Carl was bitten by a walker while trying to help a stray survivor, Siddiq, a doctor, before the Saviors could get him. To the tune of Bright Eyes’s 2005 indie pop song “At the Bottom of Everything,” Carl prepares letters saying goodbye to everyone, as well as playing with his sister Judith for the final time.

Eventually, Carl dies, and as Rick buries him, Rick again gets lost in those gaussian-blurred daydreams — which have actually been Carl’s all along — throughout Season 8. Aside from the fact there is a happy and healthy Carl playing with an older Judith, the big kicker to the visions is a kind and gentle Negan. Carl being alive totally impossible now, but a cheerful Negan? That’s just a fantasy. (Also spot Alexandria’s resident Benedict Arnold, Eugene, who absolutely would never be welcome back after all he’s done.)

While in the comics Negan chills out, he hardly becomes everyone’s favorite uncle. But it’s quite generous of Rick to think even Negan could be turned out.

Walking Dead Morgan
Elsewhere, in "Honor," Carol and Morgan help Ezekiel take back the Kingdom in truly bloody fashion. Indeed, 'Walking Dead' is back.

Early on, fans speculated if this peaceful life were flash forwards to a life after Negan and the Saviors were defeated, or if they were just fantasies Rick made up. Turns out it’s the latter. Surely Rick can’t forget how Negan has brutally wasted Abraham, Glenn, and (indirectly) Sasha, but these daydreams seem to signal that even Rick hopes there’s a peaceful solution to this bloody war.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMC.

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Photos via AMC