Carl’s unannounced visit to Negan’s home base in The Walking Dead Season 7 didn’t go as planned, but some good came out of the encounter. Negan may’ve let his guard down and shown Carl who he really is.

[WARNING: The Walking Dead Season 7 spoilers ahead. Stop reading if you’re not caught up with the show.

Let’s be real, Negan could’ve easily killed Carl if he wanted to. You have to respect the guy for always playing the long game. Negan knew if he killed Carl, he would lose the upper hand with Rick, whose desire to keep everyone safe makes him “weak.” Negan has Rick under control now, and killing Carl would risk his arrangement with Alexandria.

However, that may not have been the only reason Carl’s still alive. Negan seems to want to bond with Carl. Even though Negan makes it clear he’s in charge, there comes a point where he comforts Carl after he goes too far by making fun of his injury. Negan shows Carl some respect by trying to get to know him a bit better in The Walking Dead Season 7.

“I just think that if Negan were to have a kid, he would want him to be this kid. He respects this kid and maybe he sees a bit of himself in him,” Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan on the show, recently told Entertainment Weekly. “His initial read on Carl as a little future serial killer is not only a great line, but there’s something he sees in Carl. Carl never has backed away from Negan. His dad has been in tears and no one else will make eye contact, yet Carl never breaks eye contact with Negan during the lineup or anything else, anything we’ve shot. He’s always pissed and I think there’s just a lot of respect there that Negan has for this kid to grow up in this world as he has and survive as long as he had. Negan just simply respects him.”

But it may go a bit deeper than respect. Negan almost seems to want to take on a father-figure role. We see this when Negan brings Carl back to Alexandria. Carl shows him around the house, upon Negan’s request, and they eventually get to Judith’s room. Negan could’ve ignored Judith, went on looking around the rest of the home, but he doesn’t. Instead, Negan picks up Judith and holds her for quite some time. He even makes Olivia sit Judith and Carl at the dinner table with him. This tells us something important about Negan; the guy wants a family.

Yes, Negan has multiple wives in the compound and it’s probably to have sex with whatever girl he wants to that day. However, Negan might actually want to increase his chances of having a child. Think about it. He’s very strict about the women not cheating on him. Yes, it’s probably his ego coming into play, but it might also be because he wants to know any child one of his wives might carry is his.

In the beginning of the season, we saw Negan’s newest wife Sherry (Dwight’s ex) go to the doctor to get a pregnancy test. Negan might be trying to have a kid. Judith might’ve give Negan hope that he can have a child in this world, too. This theory might be a stretch, but Negan goes as far as joking about killing Rick and taking Judith back with him.

What Carl may choose to do with the intel about Negan is unclear, but he’s the group’s best chance of understanding the guy’s psyche. Hopefully Rick and Michonne will begin to listen to Carl and let him contribute to the group.

The Walking Dead Season 7 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.