According to Carl Grimes himself, the survivors of Alexandria are willing to make any and all sacrifices necessary in order to win their upcoming war against Negan and The Saviors in The Walking Dead season 8. Last season, Rick Grimes and his pals took the path of least resistance when faced with the power of The Saviors and bent the knee to their sadistic leader, Negan. By the final episode however, war had been declared. Rick, along with Maggie at The Hilltop and Ezekiel of The Kingdom, all joined forces in an attempt to vanquish the baseball bat-wielding villain.
One of the primary themes in The Walking Dead season 7 was that of sacrifice. Exactly how much was Rick willing to give up in order to protect his group's independence? Or was he only concerned with keeping his people alive after the shocking deaths of Abraham and Glenn? Negan ruthlessly exploited this dilemma by pitting Rick's position as leader against his responsibilities as a father and during one particularly tense scene, toyed with the idea of forcing Rick to cut off his own son's arm.
During the procession of interviews leading up to the season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead, Chandler Riggs has claimed that the Alexandrians are willing to give up whatever, and indeed whomever, they need to in order to secure victory. Speaking with EW, the young actor states:
"It reminds me of a deleted scene from the end of last season where Carl, Rick, and Michonne were talking about if Rick had the willpower to cut off Carl’s arm at this point now that they’ve had more experience with the Saviors. And they kind of come to an understanding that they’ll do whatever is needed to be done for the greater good — not for themselves but what’s best for their community and the Kingdom and Hilltop and for everyone. If they have to sacrifice — whether it be a hand or a person or whatever it may be — they’re willing to give it up."
This newfound sense of conviction will almost certainly make for a fascinating contrast from last season where Rick often appeared toothless in the face of a more powerful enemy. Riggs' comments also seem to imply that Carl's dad will be taking his position as the leader of Alexandria far more seriously during wartime and adopting a more utilitarian approach instead of focusing primarily on the welfare of his immediate family and friends. This would lead nicely into the much-anticipated Old Man Rick timeskip from the comic series.
With that said, is there a potential danger that being ready and willing to sacrifice lives for the war effort will leave Alexandria a less compassionate and forgiving community? The Walking Dead has already demonstrated how thin the line between being a strong leader and a dictator really is and when season 8 draws to a close, will Rick and co. still be the good guys?
The Walking Dead season 8 premieres with "Mercy" October 22nd on AMC.