Spoilers for The Walking Dead season 8 and The Walking Dead comic books.
The Walking Dead airs its season 8 mid-season finale tonight, and AMC advertising has promised "a shocking moment that everyone will be talking about" — likely hinting at the end of a major character.
With All Out War fully underway, the united front of Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom has already suffered losses big and small, but the latest development at the end of 8x07 signals big trouble ahead for Rick Grimes and Alexandria: the walker horde that trapped Negan and the Saviors in the Sanctuary has vanished, and there's an eerie stillness.
A very pissed off Negan and the Saviors are on their way to Alexandria.
The preview for tonight's episode sees Carl Grimes stepping up as interim leader of Alexandria as it comes under attack by Negan and an unknown number of his army, and actor Chandler Riggs has inadvertently fueled speculation that Carl is the next to die.
If Carl dies tonight, it would be the biggest deviation yet from Robert Kirkman's comic books, where Carl is still alive as of issue #174, the most recent issue. Carl has survived far past the end of the volume 21, All Out War: Part Two, which concluded in issue #126.
Season 8's mid-season finale puts the show around issue #119 of the comic book, where Negan visited Alexandria backed by a large group of Saviors. Wielding a fist full of grenades, an impatient Negan begins lobbing them over Alexandria's walls in #120 — one of the grenades blowing off Heath's leg.
Carl is alerted by the explosions and goes to help, only to be stopped by Andrea — his surrogate mother — and the pair are eventually claimed by Rick, who evacuates them from their house as Negan's bombing continues. As Rick, Andrea and Carl head for safety, they just narrowly escape a nearby blast.
Rick, recovering, calls for Carl — only to get no answer.
As Maggie and an army of Hilltop members come to Alexandria's rescue, Rick is reunited with Carl and brings him to resident doctor Denise, who tells him the boy is unharmed. Negan and his Saviors retreat as Alexandria burns.
In the more than 50 issues since surviving the bombing of Alexandria, Carl has continued to mature into a cold and capable survivor.
It's a path Carl's live-action counterpart has mostly followed, though he tends to be more trusting than his father: Carl recently inducted a lone survivor, Siddiq, into the group, telling him, "I'm responsible for you now."
Carl may have been bit by a walker during his meeting with Siddiq, further lending credibility to the thought that he could perish in tonight's mid-season finale — a death that would live up to AMC's promise of a buzzworthy shocker.
The Walking Dead's extended mid-season finale airs tonight at 9/8c on AMC.