This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season eight.
In a recent Walker Stalker Cruise Q & A panel, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman hinted that a major character may not be about to die after all...even though we all know that is poppycock.
Among the topics up for discussion was the fate of Carl Grimes, whose walker-inflicted wound was the mid-season finale's last twist. In comments later published by Comicbook.com, Kirkman said, "He's not dead yet. He may not die."
And with those eight words the internet went crazy, building on fan theories that already existed regarding a potential U-turn that would see Carl somehow survive when so many have fallen before him.
Kirkman quickly reeled out the caveat that if, as expected, Carl's fate is already sealed, it could be the catalyst for some huge changes in the 'war' with Negan, but just mentioning the possibility of a miraculous recovery showed how desperate The Walking Dead and everyone involved in it has become.
There was a time when this once great show relied on nothing more than its own brilliance to bring the audience back week after week, year after year.
There was no need for gimmicks, no need for fake deaths or POV changes just as the bat came crashing down. And there was certainly no need for the cast to toss out adjectives discussing the upcoming season as if they were reading from a press release.
The Walking Dead has been stumbling aimlessly ever since Negan first sauntered his way onto the screen and Kirkman knows that the mention of Carl's potential resurrection, no matter how unlikely, is going to get a few more people tuning in.
After the dumpster debacle, Kirkman and outgoing show-runner Scott Gimple know they cannot keep suggesting a character is dead only to yell 'Surprise!' and hope for the best. But in offering a potential for salvation, they have ensured a little more buzz.
That is the lifeblood of a show like this, but gone are the days when the buzz is generated by the audience. Now it is through the soundbites and the desperation of a writing team that has forgotten - or simply ignored - what makes a good story.
The Walking Dead season eight returns in the US on Sunday February 25 and in the UK on Monday February 26.
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