Carl Grimes grabbed a piece of chalk and left a message outside a bedroom door near the end of "The Walking Dead's" midseason premiere: "Walker inside got my shoe ... didn't get me."
But so many viewers wished it had gone the other way.
The episode, titled "After," was a decidedly slow-paced episode. (Seriously slow, like waiting for the pot boil on Spaghetti Tuesday.) It featured only three of "Dead's" major characters (four if you count Hershel's reanimated head): Carl, a mostly comatose Rick and not nearly enough Michonne.
Carl monopolized the hour, chewing scenery while half a dozen walkers nearly took a bite of the surly teenager. He was also a dead ringer for petulant pop star Justin Bieber, from his shaggy haircut and silly hat to his swaggy posturing.
Instead of helping his half-dead father, Carl threw temper tantrums and tried to prove his machismo. But while he was wasting bullets and risking his life to prove a point, Michonne wiped out an entire field of walkers.
Rather than Carl's sulky soliloquies, maybe more screen time should have been devoted to the warrior woman's poignant and powerful backstory. In an unprecedented dream sequence, viewers learned not only that "The Walking Dead's" fiercest fighter lost her young son in the outbreak, but her boyfriend and his friend were her original zombie "pets" — the dismembered walkers she used as camouflage.
Granted, after losing his mother and probably his baby sister, not to mention growing up in a zombie apocalypse, Carl has more reason for his prepubescent angst than most folks. But while he was railing at his unconscious father for "playing farmer" and not protecting his family and Hershel, couldn't the punk have at least tended Rick's wounds?
Still, it was easy to sympathize with the youngster when sat on the roof and dug into a 112-ounce can of chocolate pudding, causing the sweet treat to trend on Twitter for hours on Sunday.
That pudding seemed to remind Carl that he was just a kid who needed his father. Unfortunately, his father was ... dead?!
For a terrifying moment (which nearly broke the Internet), Rick seemed to be turning into a walker — and Carl admitted he was too scared to kill him.
So despite all his Bieberistic bravado, Carl is still a frightened young boy.
The proof is in the pudding.