The Walking Dead: Did they just kill [SPOILER]?

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Walking Dead’ just majorly shook things up.

When Glenn Rhee picked up a baseball bat outside of Shirewilt Estates in last season’s midseason premiere “What Happened and What’s Going On,” a chill ran down the spines of The Walking Dead comic book readers, who understood exactly which grisly moment the scene seemed to foreshadow.We don’t ever do this, because we think the responsibility for avoiding spoilers is yours, but we’re going to make an exception this week: DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU’VE WATCHED SUNDAY’S EPISODE.Early in Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead” an unknown Alexandrian — if he had a name, I didn’t catch it — set a record for quickest suicide-by-kvetch. “We’re done and it’s because of him,” he moaned, referring to Rick.

It was one of the show’s most shocking deaths, even though viewers of AMC’s zombie drama have been expecting the pizza delivery guy-turned-soulful survivor (played by Steven Yeun) to die this season, because that is what happened to the character in the graphic novels the hit series is based on. And when it ended, many likely asked themselves, “Wait, did Glenn just die?” To recap, Glenn and Nicholas were running from a herd of walkers when they found themselves trapped — a gate on one side and a sea of zombies on the other. Glenn is beaten to death in front of his wife and friends by a psychopath named Negan and his razor-studded baseball bat in Issue 100—making the TV version of Glenn’s new weapon feel like a dark little joke. No sooner had he started whining then he was being eaten. (As always on this show: get yourself a name, don’t be a jerk, you might survive.) The thing is, he wasn’t wrong.

If all of this seems like rambling it’s because it’s really difficult to accept the fact that Glenn has died and typing the words means accepting the fact. So far Season 6 has been an extended thriller about Rick’s unraveling plan to relocate the walkers, which, we now know, left Alexandria vulnerable to attack by the Wolves. In the moments before his grisly, apparent demise in Sunday night’s episode “Thank You,” Glenn was overpowered by a force more unstoppable than savagery: plain ol’ bad luck. The episode picks up where the premiere left off, only from the perspective of Rick’s group trying to lead the walkers away from Alexandria, as the semi-truck’s horn sounds. But the showrunners whacked the fan-favorite in a shocking, gory turn, when a horde of zombies disemboweled him in a graphic scene just halfway into the third episode of the sixth season. “Yes, I’m worried for Glenn,” he said. “But we’ve always told our own story [on the show], and we’ve always told a version that could be the comics – and it could not be the comics.

To be honest, about halfway through this episode — titled “Thank You” — I was thinking this would be one of those slower episodes, where Rick does a lot of running, the characters fight amongst themselves (in this case Varsity zombie fighters vs. Both bodies then tumbled onto the ground where we saw them engulfed by zombies who appeared to be feasting upon guts and intestines as Glenn looked up in horror. We’ll see.” “How I see it, we’ve made something so incredibly big, and so well received, and something that probably will go down in history as something to be remembered,” he added. “So nah, I’m not scared to be killed off.

Even after rewatching the scene several times, as pleasant as that was, I’m still not totally sure what happened. (More on this in a second.) Of course, I could just be deluding myself. Things started to pick up a little around the time Michonne, Glenn, Heath and some of the others from Alexandria found themselves hiding out in abandoned buildings to escape the zombie horde that had gone rogue in the season premiere. Even as Glenn fell at the feet of the walkers I immediately wondered if he might be able to crawl under that Dumpster, or if Daryl might ride up to distract the zombies, or if some other equally improbable last second reprieve might present itself. He was on a daring mission with Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurira) and several side characters to save their walled-in Alexandria community from a massive horde of flesh-craving zombies that numbered in the tens of thousands. We hear him calling Rick a “dumbass” over the radio, which serves as a nice call back to when they first met and Glenn said “Guess that makes me an even bigger dumbass than you.” We see him acting the hero by giving himself the job to burn down the building.

You make sure you get back.” You see, the crew had been at least a half hour ahead of the zombie herd, but they stopped in town to patch up some of their injured members. Before he and Nicholas commit arson, Glenn radios Rick about his plan and ends communication by calling the good sheriff “dumbass,” a nod to the second episode of Season 1. Not only are the walkers out of control, not only was the town left largely defenseless and unprepared for the assault of the Wolves, but most of the cowboys on this cattle drive wind up dead, including most shockingly…hey, what are you still doing here? After the premiere I noted the implausibility of his mercy toward Nicholas — in effect the killer of Noah and attempted murderer of Glenn. (Even Maggie and Tara were perplexed.) “But undiluted nobility is kind of Glenn’s thing,” I wrote, and on Sunday we saw what that got him.

In the process, they had to put much of their trust in Nicholas — a.k.a. the coward responsible for Noah’s death/the man Glenn gave a second chance to/the new least-liked character on TV, second only to Olly on Game of Thrones — because he was the most familiar with the town. Glenn, a rabidly adored fan favorite (Daryl who?) ends up cornered and trapped atop a dumpster with Nicholas, who takes one dizzying look at the pair’s dismal odds, gets woozy, then shoots himself in the head. While killing one of them, Rick accidentally cuts his hand on a machete that’s already been stuck through a walker (This could be something to pay attention to in the future). From this exchange to the moment Glenn was standing on top of a dumpster surrounded by thousands of walkers with Nicholas, I was not worried about Glenn. Hardened by the death of her daughter — still for my money the most devastating loss in a story full of them — Carol has developed into the iciest operator in this show.

I’ve tried assessing the plausibility of Glenn using Nicholas’s body as a shield while he crawls under the dumpster (or something), but even that scenario only delays the inevitable. And, for what it’s worth, in the shot immediately before the camera turns to his face, we see the collarbone-adjacent area of Glenn’s chest free of Nicholas’s corpse—the same(ish) area we see walkers digging into a moment later. There’s a good reason for this: he wants to make sure that somebody gets back to town, and he doesn’t trust any of the Alexandrians to make it alive. The scene on the Dumpster was a stunner, the various components — performance, makeup, sound, direction — coalescing into a woozy, terrifying sequence that ranks with the series’s best.

However… Might Nicholas’ dead guts spread all over Glenn mask his scent as a living, breathing being? (Or do they have to be guts of a full-blown zombie as opposed to just guts of a dead person to mask the human scent? And I’m writing this article well before Talking Dead airs its weekly death montage so for all I know, Glenn’s mug could show up for one final bow, making his death official, and this Jon Snow 2.0 conspiracy will die right then and there. (Yeun, it’s worth noting, was not a pre-announced guest for the weekly post-mortem show.) The thing is—again, potential spoiler alert—Yeun has been seen on set, in costume, multiple times since “Thank You” wrapped, according to eagle-eyed fans in Atlanta who regularly report cast sightings to fan group The Spoiling Dead. So the plan was in motion, but the first hitch ended up being the biggest: The feed store they planned on lighting on fire was already burned to the ground. Gimple, the show runner, told The New York Times this week.) There was something oddly beautiful about the undead swarm, something inviting about giving in to it, for Nicholas at least. Sure, he could be filming potential flashbacks—though a character who has yet to be introduced was reportedly seen with Glenn, complicating that theory.

Michael Traynor, as Nicholas, did a nice job with the crackup, coming unglued bit by bit and then going convincingly dead in the eyes. “Thank you” he calmly said. (For trying? We’re not likely to know for sure until later this season. (Or until Chris Hardwick tells us so.) Rick didn’t fare much better in this episode after he went solo to try and hitch a ride in the RV back to Alexandria. Some combination of those perhaps.) He then put the gun to his head and gave Glenn yet another in a long line of ghastly memories. (You’ll recall his extreme close-up point of view on Noah’s still-recent death in the revolving door.) As they fell, Nicholas’s body seemed to be arcing in a way that would cause it to land atop Glenn’s. This should be an interesting few weeks] The episode ends with Rick pulling his RV up to find that Glenn, Michonne, Tobin and the rest of the group is nowhere to be found. The episode does its darned best to remind us that any wound touched by walkers spells certain death (unless the limb is cut off quickly like Hershel’s leg), by having two Alexandrians wax poetic about their own fates after getting bit.

No one knows exactly how quickly the infection spreads, but Rick spends an awfully long time after sustaining his injury trying to start that RV, then fending off a group of hostile humans. There is precedent for a hand-less Rick in the comics, but Andrew Lincoln has already gone around telling cute stories about how the show’s VFX supervisor shut down the idea because it would be too “expensive.” So either Rick chops his hand off, Rick dies, or everything is fine and this show is driving everyone into conspiracy theory-fueled insanity. They find a town — ironically, the same town where Nicholas and Aiden left the members of an earlier expedition to die — and hole up in an old pet store. But it seems obvious that, had they wanted to, the writers could’ve made his end more conclusive. (Also noteworthy: Steven Yeun didn’t appear on “Talking Dead” for the usual kill-off goodbye.) So did Nicholas thank Glenn with a death sentence? Readers of the comic know that Glenn does, in fact, die relatively soon in that version when a new villain named Negan appears on the scene and bashes in Glenn’s face with a barbed-wire covered baseball bat named Lucille.

Without the burning building, the horde is still headed straight into Michonne and the final two members of that group, still headed to Alexandria and still headed to Rick, who’s stuck in a busted RV. Quick favor to ask: If you ever find yourself holding a gun and standing behind a gate, watching me being slowly, excruciatingly consumed by zombies, be a pal and put me out of my misery, O.K.? I’ve always felt that the biggest shock the producers could deliver is making the audience believe it is going to go down that way, only at the last minute “remixing” the result (as showrunner Scott M, Gimple likes to do) and having it occur to someone else instead (Aaron?

Rick being Rick, he dispatched the human threats with relative ease but the zombie swarm might prove trickier to vanquish. • So if Glenn’s really gone, is that it for Maggie? He and Glenn make for it (before he goes, Glenn radios their plan to Rick, signing off with “good luck, dumbass,” which is what he called him — snif! — the first time they spoke, also over radio). You’ll recall that the successive losses of Bob and Tyreese sent her around the bend last season — soon she was shooting up family photos and mingling inappropriately with walkers. She seems better now. • “Thank You,” a taut episode with several memorable set pieces, was a nice “Walking Dead” debut for the director Michael Slovis.

He previously helmed episodes of “Game of Thrones” and “Breaking Bad,” among other series. • “Have you ever done things that made you feel afraid of yourself afterward?” Michonne asked Heath in response to his criticism of Rick. “Have you ever been covered in so much blood that you didn’t know if it was yours or walkers’ or your friends’? While it seems practically impossible for Glenn to escape this situation alive, the whole moment (and in some ways, episode) seems to belong to Nicholas. He is the one who thanks Glenn for showing him a better side of himself before the end, and he is the one who ultimately sacrifices himself (perhaps) so the zombies can feast on him instead of Glenn. Gimple’s responses to Times readers’s “Walking Dead” questions, in which he discusses the line between fan service and storytelling, why the show diverges from the comics and what those zombies are actually eating on screen. The action over the course of the three episodes has essentially all happened within one day, really within several hours (with the exception of the flashbacks from the premiere).

They are well aware everyone is waiting to see if that will play out on screen as it did in the comic, and to let that play out, Glenn needs to stay alive until Negan is introduced (which could be as soon as the back half of this season). The hard part now is that the way this season is structured in showing the same day playing out in different places with different characters, it could potentially be a few weeks before we get our final answer. Here the story is dictating the action, and the effect is a spectacle that is engrossing, nauseating, horrifying and mesmerizing all at once, in every second of screen time.

It looks entirely hopeless, and right here is the part in any other show where some kind of improbable, deus ex machina solution would present itself. He dies for no good reason whatsoever, he dies because idiot Nicholas led them down a dead end; he dies because a decision to show somebody mercy (a recurring theme here) comes back to haunt him. As he lies there, getting eaten alive, blood bubbling out of his body, walkers pulling out his entrails, you can see the horror in his eyes, and maybe it’s just us, but it seemed that you could see that what was upsetting him the most (and great credit goes to Steven Yeun for conveying this) was this: I’m not getting back to Maggie.

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