Along with the enormous fan base enjoyed by The Walking Dead - in both television and comic book formats - comes a vocal group of detractors looking to air their displeasure at aspects of the show they may find annoying or incomprehensible. One facet that constantly earned the derision of zombie fans everywhere was the characterization of Carl (Chandler Riggs), and his increased irresponsibility - even while facing mortal danger.
Carl's inability to remain in one place (like the house) or under the less-than-watchful eye of his mother, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), became such a constant in the show that it - along with many other facets - led to the creation of a number of Internet memes. While most fans were laughing, many called for the removal of Carl and Lori from the show based on the characters' flagrant ineptitude at surviving in a fictional zombie apocalypse.
Well, fans, executive producer Glen Mazzarra has heard the complaints, and in a recent interview with TV Guide, says the days of Carl wandering in and out of dangerous situations, or inadvertently contributing to the deaths of righteously indignant characters, are at an end. What exactly brings about this change in character is unknown; perhaps Carl has learned from his blunders on Hershel's farm, or perhaps he comes to realize that in a world where the dead roam the streets and people like The Governor (David Morrissey) exist, it's simply time to do away with childish behavior.
"We're interested in exploring Carl as a child soldier in this war against the walkers. He becomes a very, very effective, strong part of the group. He's no longer the young child who needs to be cared for and who needs to be minded. That Carl is gone."
While many might cringe at the term "child soldier," the intent is clear: Carl's season 3 story arc will revolve around him being a productive member of the group that his father Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is trying so hard to keep alive. Whether or not that will do anything to quiet critics of the character is another question entirely, but Mazzara would like to offer some explanation for Carl's actions.
In a separate interview with The Los Angeles Times, Mazzara pointed out that the writers took a risk portraying Carl the way that they did, and at the end of the day, the littlest Grimes is just a boy, prone to do foolish boy things. Mazzara said:
"Everyone wants to know why Carl's not in the house. Well, it's boring to sit in a house. And he's a little boy and he wants to mix it up and stuff. And he's walking through the woods and finds a zombie trapped in the mud and he starts doing what any Huck Finn would do and starts throwing rocks at the monster. And then later that is the same zombie that pulls itself free and kills Dale. And the writers were very nervous about that, you know? It feels earned, but it's a risk. Because Dale is a beloved character and if this other character is involved and responsible for that death, is the audience going to now hate Carl? But I thought the story was worth the chance."
Season 2 wasn't without its faults, but it did noticeably pick up in later episodes - which should be credited to Mazzara's steering of the ship. Also, the showrunner's willingness to address the concerns/complaints of fans without simply kowtowing to the masses is a sign that season 3 of The Walking Dead is likely in the right hands.
The Walking Dead season 3 will premiere this fall on AMC.