On Sunday's The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) couldn't bring himself to read the letter his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) left for him before he died, seemingly for a couple of reasons. It would be too painful, sure, but Rick also knew it was going to be a plea for him to spare Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) life and figure out way to coexist with the Saviors, which was not an idea vengeance-fueled Rick was willing to entertain.
In the waning moments of the episode, though — and after doing some truly terrible things — Rick was finally ready to read it. AMC released the opening moments of Season 8's penultimate episode, airing next Sunday, which pick up from there and show Rick sitting on the Hilltop's porch and reading the letter, with Carl's voiceover revealing the text. It's a heartfelt vision of the future, wherein Carl makes the case that Rick can help provide a sense of safety and normalcy for the people from the Kingdom, Hilltop and even the Sanctuary because they all deserve it.
Here's what the letter says:
"I remember my eighth birthday at KCC with that giant cake and Aunt Evie showing up on leave and surprising all of us. I remember Mom. I remember Codger. I remember school and going to the movies and Friday night pizza. and Cartoons. And grandma and grandpa and church, those summer BBQs and the kiddie pool you got me. Could have used that at the prison.
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.
I love you.
When Rick finishes reading the letter, he looks down and sees Michonne (Danai Gurira) walking hand-in-hand with Judith. It's a peaceful moment at the Hilltop, with people working together and caring for each other. Isn't this better than constant war? Why wouldn't he want things to always be this way? Thanks to Carl's letter, Rick is finally realizing that this may be a real possibility.
We'll see how that realization plays out over the last two episodes of Season 8.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.