[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of AMC's The Walking Dead. Read at your own risk.]
An iconic moment from the Walking Dead comics finally came to fruition in the Season 6B premiere of The Walking Dead, when Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) got hit in the eye with a stray bullet when Ron's (Austin Abrams) gun went off after Michonne (Danai Gurira) stabbed him. The circumstances of the shooting were slightly different, but the image of Carl standing with his mangled eye saying "Dad?" is taken directly from Issue #83. But if you weren't prepared, Carl's injury was a serious WTF moment. Fortunately, this is not the end of Carl, as his squeeze of Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) hand at the end showed that he's going to live to fight another day. TVGuide.com talked to Chandler Riggs about that moment, which he was excited for.
When did you find out this was coming? Because it's in the comics, but the show has diverged from the comics before.
Riggs: I was out in LA for Talking Dead for Episode 15 of last year and Scott wanted to meet up with me for some lunch and to brief me for the next season. And that was when he told me that I was going to be losing an eye. And I was so excited, because I didn't know they were going to go through with it or not. Because they didn't do it with Rick's hand (Ed. note — Rick got his hand chopped off in the comics), so I didn't know if they were going to do something different with Carl. But when Scott said that they were actually going to do it, I was so, so excited.
How come you were excited?
Riggs: In the comics, it was a big turning point for my character, so I suspect that in the show it'll be a big turning point for my character, too. It'll make him more hardened and tough, hopefully.
That's interesting that you say that, because that's sort of been Carl's journey, navigating between being hard and being kind. And there's the moment at the end of the episode where Rick's cynicism is starting to dissipate a little bit. Do you think Carl's goodness is starting to re-wear off on Rick? How do you see that tension going, between welcoming the Alexandrians into their family or not? Carl had more faith in the Alexandrians than Rick did, but that might start to flip.
Riggs: It's really interesting, because at the end of Season 3 Carl was determined to not let anyone else into the prison because he was afraid that someone could harm him or his dad or his sister. That's why he killed that kid. But then at the beginning of Season 4, he was completely reversed, and was totally welcoming to anyone who wanted to come to the prison. So it'll be interesting to see how Carl's relationships with others, kids especially, will change, since it was Ron who shot his eye out. At this point, Rick seems pretty okay with letting new people in, but after this event this might change, I don't know.
I think Carl will stay welcoming. Both he and Rick have been trying so hard to convince the people of Alexandria to pull themselves together and fight and try to survive, and that night they showed that they could survive and fight for themselves. I think Carl and Rick are going to be proud.
Speaking of other kids, what do you think this means for his relationship with Enid (Katelyn Nacon), especially now that Ron is out of the picture?
Riggs: I don't know. I think they're going to see the world a lot differently now, especially after her wanting to leave and Carl getting shot by a kid. It'll be interesting to see how those two interact.
Do you think she'll be more into him with an eyepatch?
Riggs: Ha, I can't really say much, but, again, they see the world a lot differently now than they used to. They used to be pretty alike and could relate to each other pretty easily, but now after their adventures and experiences, these things that they've gone through have changed them a lot. So they definitely view the world a lot differently now.
This is the second time that Carl has been shot on the show. Which time felt more traumatic, both for you and for the character?
Riggs: I think the eye is more traumatic for both of us. For me, as an actor, I have to deal with one eye on the set now. And for Carl, he's going to see the world a lot differently as the result of this one incident. I think this time is going to harden him more.