When last we saw the Grimes family on “The Walking Dead” — Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) — they had just reunited on the highway after the deadly infestation of Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) farm by the Walkers, which took several lives.
We join them several months later, and while it is obvious in the first 5 minutes of the new season that they have become a tight team, they are in no way 100 percent. Rick is dealing with the trauma of murdering his best friend Shane (Jon Bernthal) — even if it had to be done; Lori has to face the fact that when Rick told her about the deed, she recoiled from him, so they are estranged; and Carl feels responsible for Dale’s (Jeffrey DeMunn) death, knowing if he had killed the Walker who was stuck in the mud, Dale might still be alive. He also has the additional burden of having had to kill zombie Shane.
“I think Carl has grown this year,” executive producer Glenn Mazarra exclusively tells XfinityTV.com. “I think he wants to be more adult, more of a contributing member of the group and less of a kid who needs to be minded. I think it is important for him to learn from that lesson [not killing the Walker] and to grow from that tragedy. I think he does.”
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But Dale’s death isn’t the only thing on Carl’s mind. He is angry with his mother — and he isn’t hesitant in showing it — because she and Rick are not the loving couple they once were. Also, he has become a boy soldier, which contributes to his craving more independence.
“I think Carl is probably the most affected by the rift between Rick and Lori out of everyone else,” Callies says. “Children can adapt themselves to almost any circumstance except for the divorce of their parents, or the death of a parent. There is something, I think, to be said for the fact that nothing that has happened — killing Shane as a zombie, feeling responsible for Dale’s death, seeing Sophia [Madison Lintz] die — nothing has been harder on Carl than seeing his parents effectively separate.”
And while Lincoln says the couple is in the worst place they have been post-apocalypse, he adds, “There is some movement. Especially in the first few episodes, they are trying for the sake of the group and themselves to heal this rift.”
That need to try to heal falls into the theme for Season 3, which, according to Mazzara, is that nobody can survive in the zombie world alone, and Rick and Lori recognize that fact.
“Were it not for the end of the world, we would go our separate ways,” Callies says. “There has been too much pain, too much loss. At this point, you go, ‘I can’t bring myself to leave; I can’t bring myself to look at you.’ I don’t know where that leaves us and we have been festering in that.”
The one thing the couple has going for them is the fact that they have been together since high school, so their love is deep and ingrained and it would be hard for them to imagine life without each other.
“At a certain level, everything they are doing is for each other,” Callies says. “I work hard to save Hershel because I do not want to think about what happens to Rick if he loses Hershel. Rick finds the prison, so I don’t have to worry about [birthing the] baby. It is this weird Gift of the Magi thing between them.… I so want a happy ending for them. I want this series to end with them in the back of a convertible off to the Bahamas. Rainbows and ponies.”
And speaking of the baby, we had to ask Mazzara if it will be born this season. His answer, “You will have to watch to find that out.”
“The Walking Dead” returns for its third season on Sunday, October 14 at 9/8c on AMC.