The Walking Dead writer explains Rick's divisive change-of-heart towards Negan

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead’s season eight finale.

The Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple has shed some light on why Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) had a last-minute change of heart about Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

All Out War came to a head in Sunday’s season eight finale, when Negan and Rick had their final showdown. But despite slashing Negan’s throat, Rick ultimately decided to save his nemesis’s life.

Gimple opened up about that controversial choice to Entertainment Weekly, explaining that Carl’s vision for an idealistic future for Rick and Negan may have influenced the turn of events.

“He said that out loud and heard the words that he said,” the writer explained. “He was making a play and it was in the name of his son, and is there some piece of Carl or Rick within himself that when you put air to those words, that it affects him, and there is a subliminal purpose to that?”

Gimple continued: “In my mind, it’s saying those words [from Carl] out loud, it’s hearing those words, it’s going through with the play and seeing what he did. And really being faced with a choice and choosing what his son wanted. Did Carl’s words come back to haunt him?

“I think he just went too far by invoking those words and doing what he did. He cornered himself. He was using his son’s last wishes to get his revenge. He couldn’t go through with it, but is there something inside him that knew that? And really, was there any way to stop Negan without incapacitating him severely?

“And even going further, you can even go a little darker to subliminal wishes: Did he do it and say ‘fix him’ and then be like, ‘Wellllll, if it doesn’t work out, I gave it a shot.’ There’s a lot going on there. But I think emotionally he went too far, but maybe something inside him knew he had to do that to get to where he needed to be.”

There could be huge consequences for Rick’s mercy in season nine, given that Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Jesus (Tom Payne) have subtly hinted at a plot to show to Rick the error of his ways.

The Walking Dead airs on AMC in the US and FOX and NOW TV in the UK.

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