Warning: Major comic-book spoilers ahead
Well, on the upside, the writers got down to business and revealed Glenn (Steven Yeun) is alive in the opening scenes of tonight’s episode. That would be a positive if it weren’t for the fact that they’ve made the fandom wait 3 full weeks to get here! Then, to top it off, he survives in a totally ludicrous fashion, and which also happens to be the top fan theory that has flooded and clogged social media non-stop since the airing of “Thank You.” Sigh. Okay, well, it’s done, and so, I guess the Glenn Rhee fangirls can rejoice and declare that their guy is now officially safe, right? Um, I’m not so sure. Let’s talk about tonight’s episode and how Glenn’s miraculous survival may not exactly spell good news for the fan-favorite going into the 2nd half of the season.
First, let’s talk about THE scene. Just as so many fans suspected, the body we saw ripped to pieces in “Thank You” is, in fact, Nicholas (Michael Traynor), and Glenn is able to escape by somehow pushing himself underneath the dumpster. Then, he hides himself from plain view by killing several walkers and using their bodies as cover. Um, okay, whatever. Let us all just forget that his head, arms, and likely his legs were exposed and in plain sight for any of those hundreds of walkers to start munching on. Oh, and after Nicholas has been eaten, the walkers also just decide to wander off, leaving Glenn the perfect opportunity to emerge completely unscathed from underneath that dumpster. After 6 seasons of this show, we all know that walkers just don’t wonder off on their own. Without something to draw their attention, it’s likely they would just stay corralled in that alley. Again, completely ridiculous, and in my opinion, very cheap.
But, as we learn tonight, Glenn isn’t the only one hiding out, as Enid (Katelyn Nacon ) was caught up on the herd as well. However, she is smart, goes up on the roof of one of the buildings, and just waits it out (check out the below video of Greg Nicotero from Walker Stalker Con Atlanta where he laughs that the only sensible thing to do WAS to go up on the roof). When Glenn emerges from under the dumpster, she throws him some water, and after some pulling back and forth, Glenn convinces her to return with him to Alexandria. The episode ends with both of them approaching the safe zone and releasing balloons to alert Maggie (Lauren Cohan) that they are alive.
Greg Nicotero On The Glenn Death Scene:
Okay, folks, this was a lot of damn work and trouble to “kill” a character, only to reveal that he’s really alive. The Walking Dead really hasn’t done something like this before, and so, now the question arises of why in the hell do it to begin with? I mean really, WTF?! And, what does all of this mean in terms of Glenn’s real fate? I think most know how Glenn dies in the comics, and even if you have never read a page of the source material, I suspect you know that Glenn dies at the hands of super-villain Negan. Hell, with the recent casting of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Glenn’s “Lucille” death has been splashed around the internet enough that you would almost have to be a hermit to not have heard about it! Does Glenn surviving this massive horde attack somehow make him “safe” from getting the famous bat death? Or, have the writers once again thrown us another mental mind-f*ck to give the fans a false sense of security, only to pull the rug out and give Glenn his comic-book date with Lucille? Unfortunately, as much as it sucks and as much as it hurts, I’m betting on the latter. Let’s discuss why.
To begin the discussion, I’d like to take a quote from an article I ran several months ago about FX’s The Strain killing off a particular character, Vaun. This character was given a very horrific — but very memorable — death, and one that I compared to the famous Lucille death in The Walking Dead comics.
Negan bashes Glenn’s head in with his barb-wire wrapped baseball bat (which he calls “Lucille”), as Glenn cries out for his pregnant wife, Maggie. Hands-down, this is the worse death scene in the entire comic book series, and if you don’t read the comics, it has been splashed around the Internet enough to where most know about it. Most believe Glenn won’t get that death in the TV series because there would no longer be an element o surprise, so the question is who will. Do you know how most people respond to that question? That a death that big, that memorable would have to go to “a character that was equally significant and worthy of such a monumental death.” As someone once said, a character has to **earn** a death of that magnitude.
Basically, because most of the fandom knows about the nature of Glenn’s death in the comics, if it were to play out like that, the element of surprise would be lost. And, with the Negan Lucille death being THE biggest death scene in the comics, this isn’t a scene you want to fall flat. It would need to have the same monumental impact in the television series as it did in the comics. That being said, if the writers decided that they, indeed, wanted Glenn to still get Lucille’ed, how could they possibly do that and make sure it wouldn’t be trivialized due to the comic-book spoilers?
Well, one way would to make all of the fans comfortable and completely convinced that it couldn’t possibly be Glenn. And, how could they do that? By making everyone think Glenn is really dead and then, playing the Lazarus card. This would give Glenn a whole aura of invincibility, and people would quickly dismiss him as a contender for meeting Lucille. And, guess what? That’s exactly what the writers have done, and honestly, the fans appear to be falling for it hook, line and sinker. Even before the airing of tonight’s episode, there were spoilers out there that Glenn is alive, and fans have already blown off Glenn’s Lucille death and have started to make bets on which character will take Glenn’s place in the famous scene.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as there are plenty of other hints that Glenn will meet his comic-book death. Here are just a few.
1) Glenn’s death propels Maggie’s storyline forward in the comics.
As we have seen in the past few episodes, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) has started to step up and lead Alexandria side-by-side with Deanna Monroe. That actually can be viewed as an omen because in the comics, she eventually emerges as the leader of another group of survivors, The Hilltop Colony. The catch is she put her energy into her work as a leader primarily because Glenn was no longer there. In fact, the Lucille incident happens as Glenn and Maggie are making their way to the Hilltop Colony, after they decide it is no longer safe in Alexandria.
Now, I do believe they are heading in the direction of making Maggie a leader, and the question is can that storyline have the same impact if Glenn is around and Maggie can’t really devote as much time and energy into the position?
2) Enid emerges as a possible “Sophia” replacement.
What made the Lucille death scene so horrific in the comics was not only the fact that it was our beloved Glenn, but because both Maggie and Sophia were there to witness it. In the comics, the barn incident never happens, and Sophia is, in fact, still alive. On the flipside, Carol is killed instead, and Glenn and Maggie step up and decide to adopt Sophia as their daughter.
Well, it has been speculated for a while that Enid may have been introduced as a possible replacement for Sophia. She’s about the same age as Sophia, and there’s already the budding romance between her and Carl — very similar to what happens with Carl and Sophia in the comics. This is reinforced in tonight’s episode with Enid re-emerging and helping Glenn get back to Alexandria.
Besides Maggie, in the comics Sophia provided the extra angst in Glenn’s death scene, and was one of the things that made it so powerful, tragic and memorable. Will Enid eventually become the “new Sophia,” and if so, is she back as part of the set-up of Glenn’s death at the hands of Lucille?
3) There is no real replacement for the emotional impact of the death.
As I had mentioned, one of the things that made the comic-book Lucille scene so monumental was the emotional impact of Glenn’s wife and adoptive daughter being there and forced to watch. I’m sure the writers want the television version of the scene to have the same effect, but to do so would require the chosen character to somehow illicit the same emotional response as it did with Glenn in the comic-book series. Do we have a character like that right now in the television series? I say “No,” and I think that is the biggest indicator that Glenn may meet the same fate as his comic-book counterpart.
The only one I can think of is Abraham especially if Sasha or Rosita were present, but Abe hasn’t been around that long, and so, I don’t think his death would have as big of an impact as one of the original “Atlanta 5.” Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) might, but honestly, I don’t believe this show has the balls to kill off its fan-favorite and cash cow.
So, we’re back to Glenn. It may not play out this way (and, I personally hope that it doesn’t!), and the writers may totally surprise us, but to me, this is the only scenario that makes sense putting everything together, especially giving this ridiculous fake-out death and the huge amount of work that went into convincing the audience that it was legit. But, there is a bit of good news. The episode ends with the watchtower in Alexandria collapsing, thus allowing the massive herd to breach the walls and enter the safe zone. Given Glenn’s miraculous survival, I think he definitely qualifies to be called a “walker ninja,” and so, there’s no way he’s going to die in that herd attack. Hell, given what the writers have just pulled, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see Glenn charging in there and taking out the entire herd with only a pocket-knife in hand.
But, as for the other characters, I’m not as hopeful. Of course, ones like Rick and Daryl are likely safe, but that doesn’t mean that the rest won’t emerge from the attack completely unscathed. So, brace yourselves, folks, because I think we have a big world of hurt coming in next week’s mid-season finale.
The season 6 mid-season finale of The Walking Dead airs next Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.
Critic Grade — C+
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com