Carl returns to his temporary home, boasting of his latest kills. Rick is still asleep — or dead. Unable and/or unwilling to process his father's condition, he unloads his resentment and frustration. He vacillates between declarations of independence — "I don't need you anymore. I don't need you to protect me anymore." — to desperate accusations of blame: "You couldn't protect Judith... or mom." "They're all gone now because of you!" Wiping away his tears, he marches out of the house, announcing, "I'd be fine if you died."
There's a moment in every adolescent's life where you realize that your parents are human. They aren't the indestructible, all-knowing, righteous heroes you thought they were. It's understandable to feel sad or angry for what seems like a massive betrayal. How could you be so stupid to think your parents are more than human? How could they make you believe in such a lie? Carl lost faith in Lori shortly before she died, but he always looked up to Rick. Always. That's basically his character function — or at least, that's what it was. After a dragged-out fight with the Governor and the spectacular failure of the Prison project, Rick personifies frailty and failure. Carl's worldview is shattered, and he is not happy about it. For as annoying as Carl seems, for as much of a little s— he can be, he is in the midst of the very real and relatable growing pains. He's the little s— that we all were at some point in our lives.
Putting his money where his mouth is, Carl goes on a scavenging trip in a neighboring house. Equipping himself with a makeshift stake, he bum-rushes the front door only to bounce right off and onto the ground. It's actually pretty funny to see him act — and fail — to be as self-sufficient as Daryl or Michonne. He eventually breaks through and immediately scores, discovering various canned foods including a giant can of chocolate pudding. Yet, this is The Walking Dead — things don't go well for long. Soon Carl is face-to-face with a Walker, wastes his remaining three bullets, and loses a shoe. Yes, okay, he traps the Walker and survives (barely). He still loses a shoe and wastes his last bullets! Not a good solo survivor move. Oh, but Carl is gloriously confident, naive, brave, and dumb in the way only teenagers can be. He writes "Got my shoe, didn't get me" on the door containing the Walker and proceeds to sit on the roof to eat chocolate pudding.
That night, Carl is startled by the sudden wheezing — or is that zombie-moaning? — coming from Rick. He grabs a gun as (maybe) Walker Rick raises his hand towards his son. Like Joe Jr. before him, Carl can't bring himself to shoot Walker Rick and resigns himself to death by Walker. Instead, Rick is alive but barely conscious, urging Carl to stay safe and remain indoors. For as jaded as he thinks he is, Carl is still a kid at heart. He cradles his unconscious father's head and cries, allowing himself a moment to be vulnerable and scared. It's okay to sometimes still want your parents to protect you, which makes it all the more devastating when they can't.
NEXT PAGE: Michonne's fork in the road