AMC's The Walking Dead delivered a gut-punch of an episode with Sunday's midseason premiere, during which three key characters were brutally killed off and another untouchable figure had his eye shot out.
The episode saw Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) as well as her two young sons all killed off during the group's attempt to make it out of Alexandria during the massive walker invasion. Clearly, not everything went according to plan as Jessie's young son Sam (Major Dodson) freaked out after seeing a boy his age having been turned into one of the undead.
The sequence of events come as both the AMC drama and Kirkman's graphic novels have not shied away from showing how anyone — including children — can go at any time. Both properties have a history of depicting violence against children and Sunday's episode was no different.
The AMC drama most recently featured Carol (Melissa McBride), in one of the show's most devastating moments to date, having to kill off Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) after the little girl killed her kid sister and was clearly not mentally capable of surviving in the new world. That followed Rick having to kill Carol's daughter-turned-zombie Sophia (Madison Lintz) in season two and Michonne doing the same to The Governor's (David Morrissey) zombie daughter Penny in season four. Emily Kinney's Beth, to some extent, could qualify as the teenage character came of age during the series and was largely able to take care of herself in the post-apocalyptic world.
"Carl losing his eye, and what that does for Rick and how that changes things for Carl — that's a big part of the series," Kirkman says. "As shocking and as startling as it was in the comic, seeing the motion of it and the way we were able to pull that off makes it even more startling of a moment. These are the things that make our viewers invested in the show. The fact that anything can happen and the fact that these startling things do happen to these characters we love."
On the flip side of things, The Walking Dead took a major detour from its source material with Rick's baby daughter, Judith. In the comics, the character dies with her mother, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) but AMC has kept the now-toddler around — including during Sunday's massacre.
What did you think of the episode? Do you think The Walking Dead has gone too far? Sound off in the comments section, below.