The midseason finale of “The Walking Dead” [VIDEO]was suitably apocalyptic, with the Saviors apparently turning the tables on the coalition of Alexandria, the Hill Top, and the Kingdom. The second best scene was the fight between Rick and Negan in which Rick momentarily gets his hands on Lucille and asks, in an exasperated tone, “Don’t you ever shut up?” The response was, uncharacteristically piffy, “No!” The best scene was at the very end, and it was not only an unexpected diversion from the comics, but it was searing.

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Farewell to a hero (spoilers)

The episode saw Carl, the teenage son of Rick Grimes, coming into his own as both a leader and as a hero. At one point he offers himself as a human sacrifice to Negan to assuage his bloodlust at the Saviors almost being overthrown.

Negan, who sees Carl as the son he never had, is suitably impressed. The mad, bad, and dangerous to know bat wielding villain would love to groom Carl as his heir. Afterwards, as the Saviors rampage through Alexandria, blowing up houses, Carl tosses smoke grenades to give the people cover to get away into a sewer system.

Then, at the very end, when Rick rejoins the remnants of his people, Carl pulls up his shirt and exposes the walker bite. The teenage hero has given the last full measure of devotion for his people. All that is left will be his final ending to take place in the next episode, to air in February, and who will make sure that he does not turn into a walker, dying while still a human being.

What is next for ‘The Walking Dead?’

Actors Andrew Lincoln (Rick) and Chandler Riggs (Carl) revealed in interviews that the cast knew last June of Carl’s final fate.

Killing off the character is a departure from the comics. Carl survives long past the war against the Saviors. Now Rick is the only character to have survived from the very beginning of the series. Considering how often that the former sheriff’s deputy has crossed the border between sanity and madness and back, he is not likely to take the death of his son very well.

The showrunners of “The Walking Dead” are keeping what happens next close to the vest. The Negan/Saviors storyline still needs to be resolved. Our heroes have taken a big hit, with one of their strongholds overrun and destroyed. When and how they bounce back from the debacle will be something that will be exciting to see. Will Rick use the loss of his son as a rallying cry to finally end Negan’s tyrannical rule? We have a couple of months of waiting before finding out.