2017 has arrived and it’s time to think about New Year resolutions for 2017 and Season 7B of The Walking Dead. What should make Carl’s list of New Year resolutions?
Carl has come so far over the years. Gone is the round faced little boy who has been replaced with a capable—but angry—teenager who wants to avenge the death of his friends.
Carl’s trip to the Sanctuary was important this season because it’s another sign that he’s growing up. Back at the prison, Carl didn’t have many options when he didn’t agree with his father’s decision to become a farmer. Carl is older and things are much different now. Going to the Sanctuary was Carl’s decision; it may not have been the brightest decision, but it was his alone.
Now that Carl has gone to meet Negan and lived to tell the tale, what should Carl focus on in the second half of season 7?
Learn From Negan
Yes, Negan is the bad guy. Negan was also a jerk for making fun of Carl’s eye and making him sing a song. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from him. In fact, you can argue that Negan was trying to impart knowledge upon Carl, though we don’t know why he would care enough to do that.
Negan showed Carl one way to get people to do what you want them to do. He encouraged Carl not to wear the bandage, because that’s something that speaks for itself. People will respect that.
Negan also talks to Carl like a man, and he shows Carl how men are all about “breaking each other’s balls.” These are the things, Negan says, that Rick should be doing for Carl.
We all know that Carl didn’t agree with Rick becoming a farmer at the prison as a coping mechanism after his little mental break. Carl wanted to get out there and fight, and Carl is at the age where getting out to fight makes more sense than anything else. Negan knows that, and it seems like he’s trying to teach Carl the right way to do it, even though “right” is a relative term because clearly Negan isn’t right about how he conducts business.
Brave New World
In a lot of ways, Carl represents the new face of the apocalypse. As a child, he followed the adults and accepted their decisions because he was a little kid. But Carl is moving through his adolescence in a world with no rules, and his father isn’t always the best role model.
Looking back to the episode “After” Carl was trying to survive while Rick was on the verge of death. He went into a house to find food and found the chocolate pudding, and then he battled a Walker in the upstairs bedroom that stole his shoe. Carl took some chalk and wrote “Walker inside got my shoe but didn’t get me.” Not only was that a message broadcasting that he was still alive, but it’s also a big middle finger to the Walker who tried to kill him. Afterward Carl enjoyed his chocolate pudding. This was one of those moments that straddled being a kid and being an adult. Later, he related the story to Rick that he went scavenging for food and found chocolate pudding.
Carl has been able to deal with awful situations and he has also been able to handle dangerous situations on his own. Carl needs to continue to demonstrate this kind of independence so that Rick can finally accept that Carl is a vital member of the team. Negan took the time to listen to Carl, and in those few minutes he learned a great deal about the young man. Rick is usually too busy to listen. Rick needs to pay more attention and start listening to his son in Season 7B.
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The bottom line is that Carl has received a great deal of knowledge this season and he can learn from all of these experiences. He needs to make his opinions known, even when his father doesn’t seem to be listening. We all know Rick has a lot on his plate, but one of Rick’s biggest allies is his son. Carl needs to make Rick see that.