The phrase was first uttered in the season eight premiere, in the form of newcomer Siddiq (Avi Nash) trying to establish peace with then-hopeful new ally Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), and since then the tense relationship between mercy and wrath has been at the forefront of Walking Dead throughout "All-Out War", the name of the action-packed arc from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's comics on which season eight is largely based. With Carl's death, the show found a voice that has been scarce of late, both in Carl prodding his dad to reconnect with his humanity, and Rick wondering if that's feasible, while lamenting what the youth sacrificed in his short, violent life. We don't expect that Carl's vision of Negan and Rick working together in harmony is ever going to be a thing, but we do think that Rick is going to do what he can to try to make some of it happen with anyone will to be part of it. And [his demise] can show that this world is still the world of The Walking Dead, where these things happen. It made me feel as strong as him. Well before joining this cast I was a fan. a fan that loved watching you grow up in front of a camera. Not only did Carl have to say goodbye to Judith, but he also passed down Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) sheriff's hat to her.
Rick's mercy will nearly certain prevail over his wrath by the end of season eight, allowing Negan to keep his head long enough to survive into season nine ... but as a free man?
Nevertheless, EP Scott Gimple persisted in claiming that there's a plan for all of this. Carl's fate seemed to be sealed with the realization that he couldn't go on, but it wasn't until the premiere that we saw Carl buried six feet underground.
What the closing minutes to us say more than anything else is that Rick may not have been able to fulfill his promise to Carl.
If Rick is mumbling about his mercy beating his wrath out, then it's possible he's less physically fractured and more mentally baffled by his predicament. Instead, we could be looking at the vision of the future Rick pitches to Negan at the end of the war, moments before he pulls a fast one on the Saviors' leader. "I wish him only the best!" With Carl being not only one of the few remaining characters to have been present dating back to the beginning episodes but on top of it, being the loyal son of the show's lead character is just pure pain-inducing. However, since the show did tease that walker bite in the previous episode, we're glad it was indeed fatal. Probably not, since it took nine episodes to get to answers behind the flash-forwards.
The Walking Dead continues on AMC Sunday in the U.S., and airs Mondays in the United Kingdom on Fox 9pm. One of the last characters remaining from the first season of the hit drama, he's always been considered the ultimate underlying motivation for everything its protagonist, his father Rick, has been building over the course of the show's run. Check out why we think we'll see Carl again in Season 8, as well as what Negan will be up to in the next episode.