If you’ve not seen Season 6, Episode 3 of The Walking Dead entitled Thank You, then stop reading now. Consider this your one and only SPOILER ALERT.
This whole deal about Glenn dying is most disconcerting. On several fronts. As most of you probably know, there’s a bit of a conspiracy theory going on. Many think that Glenn is alive and well. I, however, am conflicted on the matter, but I’ll get to my take within these six talking points about Season 6 Episode 3 of The Walking Dead.
1) Snooze Alert
The first two episodes of the year were so packed with action that I was actually expecting a bit of a snoozer last night. And, for the most part, that’s what I got. Focus shifted from Alexandria to find out how Rick, Michonne, Daryl, Glenn, Abraham and Sasha were faring in their attempt to lead the walkers 20 miles from town. Last we left them, the horn that got stuck on the truck which the Wolves rammed into the Alexandria wall had drawn the unwanted attention of the back half of the herd.
Abraham, Sasha and Daryl continue to lead the front of the herd away from Alexandria while Rick decides to fetch the RV (by himself) which he plans on using to get the rest of the herd back on track. (How, I’m admittedly unsure, which makes me wonder if I missed something. Did I?) Which means Rick is leaving a group behind that includes Michonne, Glenn, Heath (the only person from Alexandria worth a damn) and a few other Alexandrians who occupy various stages of injury, weakness, cowardice and ineptitude.
Before pulling a Billy Badass by going it alone to get the RV, Rick pulls a Rick and pins the tail on the donkey when he tells Michonne and Glenn that some of the Alexandrians will NOT be able to make it back to their weird-ass, gated utopia. And that Michonne and Glenn cannot let such stragglers endanger them. Essentially “Better to bail on them too soon than too late.”
The episode dragged a bit for me, especially in comparison to the first two of this season (which I thought were among the series’ finest), but I hung in there if for no other reason than because anything can happen at anytime on TWD. A fact never reinforced more emphatically than by…
2) Glenn’s Death
Or at least what we are to presume is Glenn’s death. With Rick gone and walkers closing in on Michonne, Glenn, Heath and the rag-tag assortment of randoms, Glenn decides to set a building on fire to draw the zombies away, thus enabling his group’s safe return to Alexandria. Nicholas says he knows the perfect building and offers to wing Glenn on this mission. Since Glenn’s not Rick, he accepts Nicholas’ offer. But the building Nicholas thought was the perfect one had already been burned down (and you thought your Monday sucked), which left Glenn and Nicholas in a real pickle. Walkers were approaching from every angle possible.
So they climbed atop a dumpster where Nicholas’ sanity gets interrupted by a bizarre acid-trip-type sequence before Glenn finally brings him back to the here and now. But Nicholas decides to end his here and now with a bullet to the head.
What a pussy.
After pulling the trigger, he falls into Glenn’s arms, causing the two of them to topple to the ground where hungry zombies await. The camera then closes in on Glenn’s face which contorts in pain/anguish/horror as the walkers pull out his guts. Truly gross. And truly the first riveting moment of the entire episode. If you were like me, you were shocked, sad, confused, mad. I had a quick bout with denial during the commercial break. It was like the seven stages of grief up in casa de Osborne and throughout each stage I kept reflecting on the never-ending conversation I regularly carry on with a buddy at the gym: the character we’d least like to see die on The Walking Dead, and Glenn is right there at the top of the list. Odds are he is (or was) at the top of your list, too.
3) Conspiracy Theory
While the sequence of Glenn’s supposed death seems fairly black and white on some levels, there were a couple of things I noticed in real time that struck me as intentionally ambiguous from a cinematic point. This, of course, muddied up my understanding of what happened. Primarily because there was never a definitive view of what happened. Yes, Glenn’s face contorted in anguish, and yes, you could see guts being pulled out. Simple math tells you Glenn has gone to the great pizzeria in the sky where heavy tipping, three-pie runs await.
But did you notice that Glenn never spits blood? We also never see a vantage point that rules out any and all doubt of his demise. When any other major character has died, there’s been no mystery. I mean, Herschel. Decapitated. Pretty clear. But with Glenn, we never got the beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt shot. And given that Nicholas could have easily fallen on top of Glenn, for all we know, those could have been Nicholas’ entails. (What are entails? Did I use that word correctly?)
(Found out I didn’t. Entrails is the word and it obviously escaped me.)
Plus there’s no post-mortem. No eyes closed. No final convulsion before utter lifelessness. Very dodgy. There are other things fueling conspiracy theories, but they spring not from what happened during the show, but rather what happened after it. I’ll run them down in a bit.
4) Wolves at the RV
Morgan’s turn-the-other cheek mentality almost gets Rick killed. Remember when he let that group of Wolves waltz right out of Alexandria in Episode 2 (JSS)? Carol woulda popped a cap in their collective ass, but staff-wielding Morgan settles for a stern look and some fatherly advice you might find in a fortune cookie. And on the way out, the Wolves settle for a gun. Which is what they use to almost kill Rick. But Rick again pulls a Rick and simultaneously kicks two wolves’ asses. He then sees three more stealthily approaching the driver-side door from the rear view mirror. So he grabs a machine gun and shoots them through the side of the RV.
Morgan may be a dipshit, but it still doesn’t pay to be a Wolf. Those guys suck. And their teeth are atrocious. Rick is left in peril, however, as he can’t get the RV to start (h/t Breaking Bad) which renders him a sitting duck in the driver’s seat as walkers converge from all over.
And that, kids, is how this one would end. Which leads us to…
5) The Talking Dead Conspiracy
Do you watch the Talking Dead? Sometimes I do and I’m not proud of that fact. Because The Talking Dead is controlled by The Walking Dead. Which means it’s less of a spontaneous/earnest discussion about The Walking Dead as it is a carefully-orchestrated list of talking points designed to whet the insatiable appetite of TWD viewers. In other words, it’s a puppet show, and we, my friends, are the puppets. There are any number of ways in which TWD could use its platform to shape the feelings/opinions/expectations of its viewing audience. For the most part, however, they’ve refrained from doing such.
Till last night when they decided to intentionally fuel the fire of the Glenn-is-not-dead contingency with two different stunts.
First, they read a statement re: Glenn that was issued by showrunner Scott M. Gimple. It basically said “You’ll be seeing some form of Glenn in the future to help better tell the story.” But that could obviously mean any number of things. He could be in a flash-back. He could be a mirage-like image to Maggie. He could be alive and well. He could even be a walker. We just don’t know. Which is super-fishy. I mean, not only is Glenn’s sudden death cinematically (not sure that’s a word, but hang in there) ambiguous, but the statement that addresses it makes Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky statement come off as forthright.
The second stunt on The Talking Dead was the whole In Memorandum deal where they go through and show you all the people who bit it in that particular episode. When it came time for Glenn, they showed the zombie mob, but never his face, and his name never appeared in the montage. Instead just “Please don’t let this be true” in triplicate.
So congrats, AMC. For using a discussion show about your main show to further the ambiguity of your main show. A little contrived and heavy handed IMO.
6) The Dismount
So do I think Glenn’s dead? I have no clue. (Seems most online do NOT think Glenn is dead…)
All I know is that this is exactly what The Walking Dead executive producers wanted. Much confusion and debate about the fate of one of its most beloved characters. Which puts them on shaky ground here. Teetering on a lose-lose situation, even. Because if Glenn’s really dead, that was a tough way for him to go out. Nothing got advanced by his passing. All he did in death was serve as the landing pad for a selfish and suicidal asshole. If this really was it, his character deserved a better, more definitive and nobler ending.
And if he isn’t dead? Then TWD is crassly toying with its viewers. We’re already been asked to willingly suspend so much of our disbelief on this show, and for the most part, we do. Time and time again. But I’m not sure I could willingly suspend it enough to see how Glenn could get his way out of that one.
But if I had my choice, I’d be left wrestling with how far I’m willing to cast aside my disbelief while an alive-and-well Glenn is left wrestling with the walkers.
UPDATE: And this just occurred to me — sorry for not having this in there from the get, but if I were forced in a corner to make a prediction, I’d go with this one:
Glenn is alive, but he suffered a concussion / amnesia from where his head snapped back during his fall (which they seemed to focus on), thus complicating any potential reunion efforts with his group / Maggie.