* SPOILERS AHEAD … AS WELL AS MORE ZOMBIES THAN YOU SHELTER ON A DUMPSTER FROM *
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in six seasons of The Walking Dead, and most particularly in last week’s gory attack on Alexandria, it’s that death and the apocalypse go together like inseparable twins.
Blood-soaked, nasty twins with a thoroughly disagreeable disposition, but twins nonetheless.
But even with this lesson well learned, and you be hard-pressed to take it in given how often characters, even major ones, messily shuffle off this mortal coil on the show, the death, or POSSIBLE, death of Glenn (Steven Yeun) in this week’s episode ” Thank You” was a shock.
Perhaps it was the fact that he was one of the original cast, around since episode 1 of the series “Days Gone By”, or that he was so there, so dependable, so seemingly indestructible that made his death almost unthinkable.
But there he was screaming, apparently caught under a now very dead Nicholas (Michael Traynor), who chose death by suicide from atop the dumpster where he and Glenn were both sheltering from the mother of all walker herds, not all that successfully, with his intestines going hither and yon and melancholy, ominous music playing.
He looked dead, or about to be, and it was certainly the intent of the episode’s writer, Angela Kang, showrunner Scott Gimple and director Michael Slovis to make us think he was no longer among the hard-pressed living.
And frankly even if Glenn had somehow managed to get coded in Nicholas’s entrails and pull off a Fool the Zombies With Blood and Gambit that he and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) mostly pulled off in “Guts (S1, E2) the odds of escaping a horde of zombies that massive is well nigh impossible you’d think.
So dead, yes but god in my heart, I don’t want him to be and I’m hoping that all the telltale clues that he might be alive turned out to be bang on the undead money.
There was more going on in the episode than the “death” or death of Glenn granted but nothing had quite the same emotional impact.
Alexandrians dropped by the dozen it seemed, as Glenn and Michonne did their best to get them home.
Granted Rick created one or two teensey-weensy trust issues when he proclaimed to Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Glenn for all to hear, that if their new compatriots couldn’t hack the pace or the zombies, to leave them behind and get back to Dodge in a hurry.
But these were quickly quashed by the actions of these two stalwarts of Rick’s inner circle – one again, there’s every chance that both may STILL be in the circle – who put their lives on the live to save those Alexandrians who didn’t get ambushed by walkers, run off in a panic and get eaten by walkers and kill themselves and fall off a dumpster in the worst case of apocalyptic mosh diving EVER.
In fact, so gallant were the two that when Heath made a Big Thing of Michonne and Glenn not considering the Alexandrians as their own or people worth protecting, Michonne got more than a little pissed off.
In fact, monumentally, you-ain’t seen-the-horrors-I’ve-seen pissed off.
So emphatic was her displeasure that it shut Heath up good and proper, who later realised as he, Michonne and Scott (Kenric Green), a victim of panicked friendly fire, trudged back home covered in blood that everything she had said was TRUE.
I think we can consider that a lesson well learned.
Meanwhile Daryl (Norman Reedus) went AWOL, leaving Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) to their own devices herding a big ass bunch of walkers – the ones that hadn’t gone “Pretty truck horn! Prettttty truck horn!!” the week before anyway – ostensibly to find Rick who ended up being attacked by the very Wolves Morgan (Lennie James), the Overly Idealistic Pacifist had let go with a stern peace, love and mung beans warning after they butchered their way through Alexandria.
For all that action though what we got was a very measured, well-crafted and well-paced episode that tipped its hat to tropes past – Glenn’s use of the word “dumbass” to farewell Rick was the same used in episode 1 when they met; the use of entrails as the grottiest Halloween costume EVER – while slowly and surely building up to the big Glenn is dead/might be dead/ is it all wishful thinking he’s alive finale.
It certainly fit the pattern of The Walking Dead which has made an art of doing the whole whistling “nothing to see here, nothing to see here” narrative maneuvre, so we don’t think (but of course we do) that Something Bad is about to happen.
It’s in fact the episodes that don’t seem to be making a big deal of things that always lead to something really awful taking place.
Not that you could say that “Thank You” was a walk in the park storyline-wise – lots of people died and rather compelling life lessons were learned by the likes of heath – but it certainly was as high on the Reichter scale of OMFG-ness that the first episodes of the season had been.
It says much about the renewed sophisticated storytelling of this season that Scott Gimple & Co were able to pull the wool over our eyes and surprise us with such a shocking development when everything pointed to something like that happening.
Hopefully Glenn’s death is nothing but smoke and mirrors but we’ll have to wait at least 2 weeks to find out as next week’s episode looks like being Morgan’s great big moment in the backstory sun.
- It looks we have a chance to get up close and personal with Alexandria’s resident pacifist Morgan in next week’s “Here Not Here” …