The Walking Dead: Is Carl strangely bonding with Negan?

Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) in Episode 7Photo by Gene Page/AMC
Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) in Episode 7Photo by Gene Page/AMC /

As Carl watches Negan rule over the Saviors at the sanctuary is he being reminded of what his own father is missing?

After witnessing the smashing deaths of  Glenn and Abraham in season 7 of The Walking Dead, Carl becomes a vigilante of sorts, wanting to fight back immediately and kill Negan. This embodies the fighting spirit that his father once had and used to exact revenge on various enemies.  However, Rick Grimes is in transition and is so broken he cannot see past saving his family and Alexandria. 

The “Sing me a Song” episode puzzled me a bit with the way Carl is “welcomed” by Negan. They appear to be in a very complicated tango with one another that only intensifies as the episode progresses. While I waited for death or torture to ensue a strange calmness overcame me. Negan seems amused by this young boy’s fighting spirit. Carl’s initial disobedience of not taking Negan’s hand is met with a second chance and eventual compliance. It seems strategic that Carl stood next to Negan as he addressed the Saviors and is not forced to kneel. Is Carl being primed to become his son of sorts?

What is it about Carl that intrigues Negan? Typically you don’t tour an enemy’s facility, take notes and ask questions.Throughout this tour Carl seems to admire the total control that each one of the Saviors relinquishes to their leader. He appears to watch Negan as a son would do with his father to learn the ropes.

Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) in Episode 7 Photo by Gene Page/AMC
Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) in Episode 7Photo by Gene Page/AMC /

The prelude to Carl’s eye being shown was uncomfortable to watch. The moment he sat in front of Negan reminded me of typical family scene when a father chastises his son. This quickly turned into Carl defying the order of removing his eye bandage and firmly standing his ground. Negan swiftly brings to remembrance of the two men that were killed and punishment for the guilty party is still a possibility.

While Carl’s eye is examined and picked apart by Negan’s comments, we witnessed his tears of fear, tears of embarrassment and tears of sadness. Surprisingly, remorse is seen on Negan’s face; he sees a boy sitting in front of him. No longer looking for a man he confesses that he forgot he was just a kid. 

In that moment perhaps Carl begin to oscillate within his thoughts of wanting to fight, back as he initially had done when not accepting Negan’s hand, or asking if he would be killed, or saying no to taking off his eye patch.  

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The combination of being forced to sing and being told by Negan that perhaps his punishment should be the iron to the face or just being killed caused something to click within Carl, who let go of any idea of becoming a Savior.

I believe if there is to be a bond between these two it will only be temporary. Maybe each one saw the possibilities of “what if,” which quickly turned to a dark reality of never. Human nature often pushes us toward safety nets and comfort when there are none. It will be very interesting to watch Rick, Carl and Negan’s relationship evolve with one another. There’s bound to be a few laughs along the way.