I never do spoiler alerts. Ever. I figure if you don’t want to know what happens in a movie or TV show, don’t drop by somebody’s blog when they’re talking about it. Duh. However, this one time, I’m giving you fair warning: if you haven’t seen Season 3 of The Walking Dead or you might wanna catch up or you know somebody who knew somebody who talked once about watching The Walking Dead, you wanna move away real slow like. I’m gonna fuck it up.
Cuz today, I’m talking about Carl “Bad MF” Grimes. And I’m not talking about my usual put-a-hero-up-just-tear-him-down schtick either (I real wanted to use the word “schtick.” Don’t ask me why). This is real Carl-love. Well, as much love as a grown man can have for a fictional 12-year-old boy. Not like Arnold in the bike shop love–I mean…geez, that got awkward real fast, didn’t it?
How bout I have mad respect for Carl? How bout that?
So you know the premise of The Walking Dead, right? Zombie apocalypse. Gritty drama. Somebody’s gonna die every episode and they don’t give a shit about main characters. Yeah, that show. I’m not a zombie fan. I actually think this little genre’s been beat to death—by the time we have a zombie apocalypse romantic comedy, we have gone too far, people. Too far. But I like The Walking Dead for the human element. And for Rick Grimes, the police officer-turned leader of a rag tag bunch of people. I like Rick because, at the end of Season 2 and all of Season 3, Rick lost his muthafuckin mind! Like, seriously went crazy. I loved that about him, like Cuba Gooding Jr laughing at Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. I loved it!
Which brings me to Carl. Carl is Rick’s 12-year-old. In the span of months (I guess, I have no idea of time on this show), Carl has seen his father shot and put into a coma, THEN the zombies came and killed everybody, then he was on the run, then his daddy came back but his mama was shacking up with his dad’s best friend. You catch that? Talk about awkward—single moms, bring your new boyfriend to meet your kids for the first time. They show their asses, huh? Carl got a new stepdad who was his father’s police partner and best friend while his real dad was laid up in a hospital and zombies were running around eating everybody. But that ain’t it. Carl’s been through it: he got shot, saw the only other child on the show become a zombie (while he was looking for her), saw his father kill his own best friend TWICE (because people die and come back), delivered his own baby sister and then had to shoot his own mama because she was gonna become a zombie. Oh yeah, then his daddy went crazy.
You better not never bitch about ANYTHING that happens in your life again. Car broke down? Fuck that, you ain’t Carl. Had a bad day at the office? Carl’s day was worse. Somebody forgot your birthday? Ask Carl what he got his birthday: a fucking gun so he could shoot his mama in the head with it.
But that ain’t even my point: this kid is just taking it. Yeah he has his own 12-year-old bullshit but he’s rising to the occasion. He’s learning right and wrong and life and death in a new environment and making new rules. And he’s just rolling with it.
What I like about this character is actually what he’s becoming. I think about this character and what he’s going to be like as an adult, having grown up in this world, knowing what it was and seeing what it’s become. He’ll be jaded for sure, have a respect for life and a respect for death, and be willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his survival. Rick and the Governor and the zombies aside, I feel like I’m watching the most compelling character I’ve seen in a long time every time that kid is onscreen. And that, folks, is damn good television.