What a week for Walking Dead fans. Sunday’s bombshell was being backpeddled, retroactively retconned, and short-soft-sold from almost literally the moment the episode ended. Spoilers ahead, just in case you’ve somehow not watched the ep or seen any of the numerous comments online.
Glenn was trapped by a zombie horde, and ‘presumably’ eaten by zombies. What is being bandied about — high and low, far and wide — is that we don’t actually see him being eaten. We don’t actually see him die. The actor recently signed a new contract with the show. He’s been seen shooting new scenes. The show runner issued a statement that was read on Talking Dead minutes after the episode finished that says we’ll see Glenn “in some form” again. It’s almost impossible to go into /r/thewalkingdead on Reddit without seeing the entire page of topics showing [Spoilers].
Me, I’m mostly annoyed by this whole thing. I did notice, at first viewing, that the zombies eating the entrails was shot in such a way that it was almost certainly Nicholas’ guts being consumed. I won’t lie; I did notice that and was like “hmmm, they’re framing that shot pretty carefully”. However, again honestly, I didn’t assume that meant Glenn was not dead. Yet Gimple wasted no time in rushing to all but assure us that Glenn lives.
Why am I annoyed? Because . . . frankly, because we don’t know enough about it right now. We’ve got the canon episode, and then all these comments and speculations. The episode sets up a circumstance that will require a lot of tap dancing to keep the character alive. Like, a whole lot. Tons of it. Tap dancing for the ages. The leading theory is Glenn will crawl under the dumpster and hunker there, where the zombies can’t get him. If Glenn can fit under the dumpster, so can the zombies. They’ll get him out. What’s he going to do; stab every zombie that comes in after him in the head, then wait two days behind a bulwark of undead bodies for the rest of the horde to forget about him, finish eating Nicholas, and wander away?
I don’t want Glenn to be dead. I like the character. He’s a lot of fun, I enjoy having him on the show. But he was written into a corner, and I nearly always object to bad writing. Deus ex extracting Glenn from that situation is going to bug me unless they’ve got one hell of an exit coming. And I can’t even really imagine what that exit could be. What’s going to happen; a horde of Wolves with machine guns, who mow down the horde — including the zombies kneeling and leaning down eating Nicholas, who is draped across Glenn — without killing Glenn in the process so they can then capture him? Darryl shows up with a mini-gun crossbow? Michonne reappears having extended her katana to Final Fantasy proportions so she can cleave the horde with a single stroke?
The ‘cleverist’ scenario I’ve come up with is the Wolves one. It’s not clever because I came up with it. It would be clever because it would give us a viewpoint character amid the Wolves, so we could learn more about them, since presumably the Wolves are going to factor prominently into the rest of the season. But I still hate this scenario because, honestly, so many reasons.
It would be convenient as hell for such heavily armed Wolves to have just happened to show up at just this moment, and not shoot Glenn while they’re shooting a hundred plus other zombies. For them to notice that the person at the bottom of the horde is alive and not already dead (or at least bitten). That the Wolves might want prisoners is fine; but there would be easier ways to get them. Less contrived ways. Plus, at this point in the season’s timeline, the Wolf attack on Alexandria has only just now been beaten off. Episode two happens in parallel with the end of episode one and the whole of episode two. The Wolves deciding to capture and interrogate Alexandrians would take a little more time than they’ve got so far to think of and begin doing.
To make all of this even worse; the furor over Glenn isn’t going to end this week. Episode four is a Morgan episode. I’m looking forward to seeing what Morgan’s been up to since exiting crazy land, but the timing sucks pretty fierce. The internet isn’t going to get any abating revelations over the Glenn situation with a flashback episode focusing on Morgan. At least, I assume it’s a flashback episode. Maybe parts of it will show Morgan moping around in Alexandria, upset over how he didn’t manage to Jedi Master all the attackers without any of them getting killed by the defenders . . . I don’t know. But it does seem like a long stretch to assume a Morgan episode will be able to fit in any deus ex saving of Glenn
The whole thing with Glenn, as it’s spun into this frenzy of spoilers and speculation and is he/isn’t he . . . it smacks of a stunt. Like who shot JR, or tune in this week for the surprise guest star, or whatever. I admire good writing, good storytelling; not stunts. The corner they’ve written themselves and Glenn into . . . I’ll be impressed, and apologize, if they write themselves out gracefully and without having to resort to believability-straining solutions. But until then, everyone’s just jabbering away about it. Even me.
And that’s probably the heart of my complaint. We’re not talking about the character and the story, about the decisions and ramifications resulting accordingly. We’re talking about “did they really kill off Glenn; how will they un-kill him so he’s still on the show.”
And I think it sucks. The conversation has shifted to the meta, not the story. The focus is supposed to be on the show. This whole thing is a failure for that, if nothing else.