The opening minutes of The Walking Dead 8x15 sees Rick read Carl's letter, written to him on Carl's last day on Earth.
The doomed Carl penned the letter to his father upon finding out he had suffered an incurable walker bite.
Despite urging from Michonne, a grieving Rick has been unable to bring himself to read Carl's words.
"Carl wrote that because he wanted you to read it," Michonne tells him in 8x14. "It was one of the last things he ever did."
A teary-eyed Rick just can't do it.
Rick is inspired to read Carl's letter following his slaughter of the escaped Savior POWs in 8x14, tells executive producer Tom Luse, who says Rick "realizes that violence for violence's sake is not enough so he reaches out to Carl for guidance."
On a sunny day at the Hilltop, on a porch overlooking his whole world, Rick opens the letter.
Carl's letter opens with him reminiscing about his eighth birthday and Aunt Evie. He remembers his mother, Lori. He remembers his school and going to the movies.
"And Friday night pizza. Cartoons. And grandma and grandpa and church, those summer BBQs and the kiddie pool you got me. Could have used that at the prison," the letter reads.
"You told me about the walks we'd take when I was three. You holding my hand around the neighborhood, all the way to Ross' farm. I didn't know that I remembered them, but I do. Because I see the Sun, and the corn, and that cow that walked up to the fence and looked me in the eye.
And you told me about all that stuff, but it isn't just that stuff. It's how I felt. Holding your hand, I felt happy and special. I felt safe.
I thought growing up was about getting a job and maybe a family, being an adult. But... growing up is making yourself and the people you love safe. As safe as you can, because things happen.
They happened before. You were shot before things went bad. Kind of felt like things went bad because you were shot.
I want to make you feel safe, dad. I want you to feel just like I felt when you held my hand. Just to feel that way for five minutes. I'd give anything to make you feel that way now.
I wanted to kill Negan. I wish I did, maybe it would have been done. I don't think it's done now. You went out there again, but I don't think they surrendered. I don't think they will surrender.
There are workers in there, dad. They're just regular people. Old people, young people, families. You don't want them to die, dad.
We're so close to starting everything over, and we have friends now. It's that bigger world Jesus talked about. The Kingdom, the Hilltop... there's got to be more places. More people out there. A chance for everything to change and keep changing.
Everyone giving everyone the opportunity to have a life. A real life.
So if they won't end it, you have to. You have to give them a way out. You have to find peace with Negan. Find a way forward somehow.
We don't have to forget what happened, but you can make it so that it won't happen again. That nobody has to live this way. That every life is worth something.
Start everything over. Show everyone that they can be safe again without killing. They can feel safe again. That it can go back to being birthdays and school and jobs and even Friday night pizza, somehow. And walks with a dad and a three-year-old holding hands.
Make that come back, dad. And go on those walks with Judith. She'll remember them.4comments
I love you. Carl."
The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead season 8, "Wrath," airs Sunday, April 8 at 9/8c on AMC.