While last night’s episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead may have left many viewers (including myself) in a state of denial as to the fate of one character, that shocking (presumed) death scene may have distracted viewers from another peril close at hand. So while I broke down just what happened on the Season 6 episode “Thank You” in our latest recap, this particular hour bears a closer inspection. It should go without saying that spoilers will be discussed from here on out.
So, in last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, quite a few redshirt Alexandrians were lost in the aftermath of The Great Walker Parade. Since this was the first time we were meeting these particular characters, they mostly served as the appetizer for the main course that was to come. Of course, I’m talking about the apparent death of Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun), one of the major players in the series since Episode 1, and a fan-favorite from both the show and the comic books. There are a few things that point towards Glenn’s death being a red herring, and a few that seem to confirm that he’s actually gone.
First up, the circumstances around Glenn’s death were staged in a strange way. While standing on top of a dumpster at the end of a Walker-packed alley, Nicholas opted to commit suicide rather than be torn apart while still alive. All well and good, except that he took Good Guy Glenn with him on his ill-fated fall to the ground. We’re left with what appears to be Glenn, lying on the ground, having his guts torn out by the pack of Walkers. Or was that Nicholas’ body on top of his? Though Yeun’s performance is certainly convincing of his character’s death throes, the theatrical staging leading up to it is suspect.
Add to this the fact that character death scenes are almost always portrayed in as graphic, clear, and detailed a way as possible by the effects department; Glenn looked disconnected from his own body as Walkers appeared to pull intestines from what should have been his upper chest cavity, which is just strange. There was no subterfuge when one of the Alexandrians had his throat ripped out – we saw that plain as day – so why would a major character’s death look like a schlocky effect from an amateur effects artist?
Less convincing but still interesting for the Tin Foiled Hat Wearers among us is the fact that aftershow Talking Dead somehow managed to leave Glenn out of their In Memoriam section. This could have been an oversight, a planned move to further muddy the waters, or just a refusal on their part to believe that Glenn is actually gone. (Though Glenn is the previous and current frontrunner for our “Most Likely to Die in Season 6” poll.)
Showrunner Scott M. Gimple got in on the act by delivering a short message to Talking Dead after the talk-show host Chris Hardwick and guests Yvette Nicole Brown and Damon Lindelof started to speculate on Glenn’s fate. While Yeun did not appear on that episode, which is normally an indication that they’re still around on The Walking Dead, here’s what Gimple had to say:
In some way we will see Glenn — some version of Glenn or parts of Glenn — again. Either in flashback or the current story to help complete the story.
Some version of Glenn? As in Walker Glenn or maybe even Wolf Glenn? Some parts of Glenn?? As in, his bloody remains or maybe something less violent like, perhaps, Glenn’s offspring? No matter what the truth is, Gimple’s words seem more intended to further confuse the situation than to clear it up. We’ll just have to wait for more episodes to see what eventually becomes of this.
But Glenn wasn’t the only major character to face a hardship in this episode. One fact that wasn’t lost on many viewers was Rick’s injured hand during his knife-fight with a small group of Walkers in the road. While he apparently cut it on the machete blade that was lodged in one of the Walkers’ shoulders – and wasn’t bitten like some folks thought – that wound sure was bleeding profusely as the episode went on. Here’s where we dip into comic book spoilers.
In the pages written by Robert Kirkman, Rick famously lost his hand to The Governor. The loss of his hand in the comics forced Rick to compensate by learning to use his left, though the handicap would occasionally hamper him in other altercations. Now, in the TV show, The Governor has come and gone and Two-Handed Rick has survived the test. Rick’s certainly faced challenges, but has managed to grit his teeth and get through all of them, whole. Could that be about to change? He’s left stranded in the wilderness in a shot-up RV, surrounded by Walkers. He could very easily bleed to death unless he does something to staunch the blood flow. (Clearly, cutting his hand off would not help, but applying a tourniquet might save his life at the cost of his hand, eventually.) The real question here is whether or not Andrew Lincoln and the showrunners want to deal with the practical limitations of a one-handed protagonist.
It’s been clear for a while that The Walking Dead the TV series differs significantly from The Walking Dead the comic books, so what happens in those pages doesn’t necessarily influence what happens on AMC and television screens around the world. If Glenn is really dead, then perhaps someone else will fall beneath the wrath of the infamous yet highly anticipated villain Negan in a future episode. However, if he somehow manages to survive, there’s every possibility that TV Glenn could still meet comic book Glenn’s brutal fate.
Be sure to let us know your thoughts and theories in the comments below!