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Big boys on 'The Walking Dead' don't cry

October 17, 2011 | 10:00 am

Carl takes on a bigger role on 'The Walking Dead'
Spoiler alert: If you haven't watched Sunday's season opener of "The Walking Dead," stop reading here, or you'll regret it.

Little boys always want to play with the big guys. When you’re fighting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world teeming with zombies, the desire is all the more greater (and all the more dangerous).

In the second-season premiere of “The Walking Dead,” which aired Sunday night, young Carl Grimes (played by Chandler Riggs) is eager to stand tall against the bloodthirsty walkers with his dad, Rick (Andrew Lincoln), and the other men of the survivors crew. 

“He’s, like, turned into a wannabe psycho killer,” Riggs told ShowTracker recently. “Carl has really changed since the last season. He wants to do more — which is fun for me.”

Sarah Wayne Callies, who plays Carl’s mother, Lori, said it all makes for a difficult parenting decision.

“It’s tough for Lori,” she said. “Does she protect her son and try to keep him as innocent as possible or would that be leaving him vulnerable because when terrible things happen, he might not be capable of negotiating them?”

She eventually gives in to his fearlessness — but not without initial resistance. When he comes upon an ax in the aftermath of yet another zombie swarm, Carl asks Lori if he can keep it for future uses against the zombies. She resists. But when some of the team set out to find Sophia (Madison Lintz), who has vanished into the woods, Carl insists on tagging along to "help cover as much ground as possible" — and eventually gets his way (and is even allowed to carry a weapon!). And Lori allows him to stay behind with Rick and Shane to continue the search while she and the others head back to base camp.

TWD_201_0608_0275But just as viewers were getting used to Carl as a pintsized badass, the unthinkable (at least for those who haven't read the comic the series is based on) happened: He gets shot while admiring a deer and the camera pans out to a close.

Viewers don't see the culprit, but a new team of survivors is supposed to be introduced this season. But it's hard to even think of the possibilities — Carl.just.got.shot.

“It’s brutal,” said Jon Bernthal, who plays Shane Walsh, who has taken on a cold affront with Carl in the season opener. “This show does the impossible, does the unthinkable. Carl is such an important character and … we shoot him. But that’s the world they’re living in right now. Things are brutal.”

But we won’t see the last of Carl.

“Preparing him to face his fears might be the most responsible thing Lori can do,” Callies said. “But what does that cost him and who does he turn into? Carl changes a lot in the second season. A lot. ”

RELATED:

'The Walking Dead' Season 2 premiere recap

'The Walking Dead' cast discusses Season 2

'Walking Dead' showrunner talks Frank Darabont departure

— Yvonne Villarreal

twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: Chandler Riggs plays Carl Grimes in the zombie drama "The Walking Dead." Credit: AMC.

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