After last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, I didn’t think I could have any more emotions. After Carl died tragically, I thought I was empty. No more emotions. None left. But then in this week’s episode, we found out what was in those letters that Carl had written to those he was leaving behind — including his dad, and Negan. At the end of this week's episode, called "The Lost And The Plunderers," Rick thumbs through the letters that Carl left before he died, but he skips right over the one labeled “Dad,” and instead, opens the letter to Negan. So of course we all need to know — what did Carl’s letter to Negan say?
The letter is only half visible, thanks to the the way Rick holds it. But it’s pretty clear what the message is, and not only because Rick literally calls Negan to talk about it. What we can see of the letter shows that even in his final moments, Carl was trying to make peace between the rival factions of survivors.
“I got bit,” the letter said. “I was just helping someone.” It also implied that Carl isn’t even certain if Negan is still alive to read the letter, and suggested that Rick may have already killed him “But I don’t think so.” He also questioned how much use his letter to Negan will be. “Maybe … lost cause and you just want to kill all of us,” he wrote. “I think you have to be who you are.” Adding that he wanted to ask Negan something, Carl’s letter implied that even if Negan wins, the circle of violence and mistrust will only continue. “The way out is working together,” he wrote.
OK, so this is really not helping the feels I had after Carl died last episode.
In the mid-season premiere, we saw the aftermath of Carl realizing he had been bitten by a zombie. In a super emotional scene, we saw Carl writing the letters to people in his life, taking a photo with little sis Judith, and generally preparing to die, all while the song "At The Bottom Of Everything" by Bright Eyes, which is about coming to terms with the inevitable, played over it. And then at the end of the episode, Carl was gone, after he shot himself to prevent turning into a zombie. Fans had seriously all the feels, and I can't blame anyone.
After reading the letter, Rick called up Negan (via walkie-talkie, because this post-apocalyptic hellscape operates on the same communication level as your fourth-grade treehouse) to tell him that Carl's final wish was for peace between Rick and Negan. "Carl's dead," Rick told Negan. "He wrote letters. He wrote one to you. He asked you to stop. He asked me to stop. He asked us for peace. But it's too late for that."
"Even if we wanted to deal now, it doesn't matter," Rick said. "I'm gonna kill you."
Negan, to my surprise, was genuinely mournful to hear of Carl's death. He asked how it happened, seeming honestly concerned about whether or not the Saviors were responsible. "I am sorry," he said, adding that he had counted Carl into plans that he was making, implying that Carl would have been a central figure in any Negan-controlled regime. "That kid was the future," he said. But he refused to take any responsibility for Carl's death or the fighting between him and Rick, telling Rick that he was to blame for his son's death. Dude, way harsh.
So what with Rick clearly having nothing left to lose, and the ongoing death threats and violence — well, I guess "All Out War" is still on the table. Looks like, anyway.