‘The Walking Dead’ Season 6, Episode 3 Review: ‘Thank You’ [Updated

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Against All Odds, The Walking Dead Has Found New Life.

Here’s the obligatory “Spoiler Alert,” but at this point — given all the social media and internet chatter — it seems pointless to warn about discussing the status of Glenn Rhee on AMC’s gruesome hit series “The Walking Dead.” However, on Sunday’s episode, it did seem that former Chicago actor Steven Yeun’s character was overwhelmed by the zombie walkers, right after Nicholas (Michael Traynor) blew his brains out on top of a dumpster with walkers swarming all over the place.

While it sure looks like Glenn himself was devoured, there is one theory floating around that Nicholas’ body fell on top on Glenn — providing the fresh meat to the walkers and allowing Glenn to escape. Although I’m a long-time fan of the original comic books—I’ve been reading them since 2003—my feelings about the television series have always been ambivalent at best. Killing off beloved protagonists has become a storytelling trick of choice for shows looking to shock audiences and grab ratings in the increasingly competitive TV drama market. I recapped the show here at WIRED for a while, and if you peruse the archives, you can actually trace the slow, rolling boil of my contempt, which culminated in headlines like “Zombies Don’t Kill People, Being Stupid Does” and “Rick Grimes Is the Worst Leader Ever.” I started to dislike the show so much that I actually stopped recapping in the middle of the 2013 season, and when Fear the Walking Dead premiered in August, I panned that too. Sounds unlikely, but as Us Weekly pointed out Monday, “The Talking Dead” site did not post an obit/memoriam for the heroic former pizza delivery guy — as it usually does when a character is killed off on the series.

Troy native Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn on the hit zombie cable thriller, appeared to be dying at the hands of the undead herd as the episode drew to a conclusion. The one thing “Walking Dead” fans had been fearing came true: In “Thank You,” Glenn (Steven Yeun) died, swallowed up by a heaving sea of walkers.

And a statement was read from “Walking Dead” executive producer Scott Gimple promising that “in some way, we will see Glenn, some version of Glenn or parts of Glenn again, either in flashback or in the current story to help complete the story.” Bill Zwecker is the expert when it comes to knowing the scoop on the rich and famous. As Entertainment Weekly’s walking alive series expert Dalton Ross put it, the key question of the evening was, “Wait, did Glenn just die?” In the key scene, Glenn and Nicholas became trapped by a huge zombie swarm. The episode concluded with what looked to be a bloody, gruesome end for both of them — but fans aren’t quite ready to accept that original cast member Glenn is really gone.

When Nicholas, whom Glenn had been snapping out of a dazed state with alarming frequency, killed himself with a bullet to the head, both men fell into the hungry horde. Last night, when Rick found himself in the woods with a massive horde of zombies creeping his way and two survivors who could barely walk, his advice was far more pragmatic: “They aren’t all going to make it,” he told Glenn and Michonne quietly. “You try to save them, but if they can’t keep up, you keep going.” Forget leaving no man behind—pragmatism is the modus operandi for Rick Grimes 2.0, and it is sweet, sweet music to my ears.

Glenn’s death plays out a good 15 minutes before the episode ends — an atypical, seemingly disrespectful ending for a character who has been on the show since the earliest episodes. Suffering the worst from this devastating uncertainty could be metro Detroit fans, since Yeun is a 2001 Troy High School graduate who studied psychology at Kalamazoo College before deciding to pursue a career in acting.

As Nicolas (a cowardly, relatively new character saved by Glenn more than once) sees what seems to be certain demise, he shoots himself and pulls Glenn down with him into the waiting horde below. As the savvy heroine Sidney Prescott famously said in Scream, too often the thrills boil down to the incompetence of someone who keeps running up the stairs to escape the killer when she should be running out the front door.

And while he wouldn’t confirm either way if Glenn is alive or dead, he did offer a few clues. “I mean, I know that I was there when we shot the scenes, I’m aware of what happened, and I know that there is still more story for the fans to experience with Glenn,” he tells Us Weekly. “Gale Anne Hurd, Scott Gimple, [Robert] Kirkman, and those guys are gonna make sure that the fans feel very satisfied and complete with the story.” So, does that mean Glenn is alive? This sort of conflict quickly gets tiresome, because it ultimately isn’t between human and monster, or hero and villain, but between people and their narratively-mandated compulsion to make the worst choices possible. Fans have also seized on the presence, or rather, absence, of certain elements on The Walking Dead’s after-show, The Talking Dead, as proof of Glenn’s survival. The wrap-up show, hosted by comedian Chris Hardwick, has without fail featured actors who portrayed major characters immediately after their characters died.

But if you’re constantly presented with a parade of fools willfully marching to their own deaths, it’s also easy to become a bit of a monster yourself, your empathy curdled to contempt while you shout at the screen about how someone actually deserves to die for their ineptitude. That trilogy has set the bar so high in terms of pure action — while also inserting telling character development — that you have to wonder how the show can possibly keep it up. In most zombie movies, the fools tend to get weeded out in the first hour or so, leaving the more capable survivors to have more interesting and less infuriating confrontations towards the end.

Fortunately for the future of humanity—and the audience of this show—that kind of weakness can’t last forever in a post-apocalyptic crucible designed to burn it away. Now, we’re finally getting to the good part: the part at the end of the film where everyone who’s still alive has something to offer besides the same obvious mistakes. If this discussion sounds familiar, it’s likely because fans of the equally gruesome HBO series Game of Thrones had a similar reaction when that show saw the untimely demise of its own fan favourite — the dashing Jon Snow — on last season’s finale episode.

Although the former lawman’s black-and-white morality has slowly faded to gray, his ethical evolution has been slow, inconsistent, and often frustrating. Months after we saw daggers entering the body of Castle Black’s ill-fated Lord Commander, many fans still believe the character didn’t actually die — a speculation boosted by sightings of actor Kit Harrington at the show’s set in Belfast.

Rick has certainly done his share of killing—even stabbing his former best friend to death in an early episode—but his increasingly flexible morality often proved less pliant when judging the choices of people who aren’t Rick Grimes. Glenn Rhee and Jon Snow share many similarities as characters: both started out as bullied and downtrodden characters, who emerged as leading figures whose humanity was undiminished by the sullied society around them. In season four, after housewife-turned-badass Carol killed two survivors carrying a lethal plague in order to save the rest of the group from infection, she told Rick that their deaths were a necessary evil: “It’s about facing reality.” But Rick refused, exiling her to the wilderness because he wasn’t ready to live in a world where those types of sacrifices are sanctioned or required. Not long after Carol’s departure, the group ended up splintering anyway; they spent the next season wandering around rural Georgia in small, isolated groups, looking traumatized, and navel-gazing about whether life was really worth living at after all. As far as tools of behavioral reinforcement go, death is near the bottom of the list—it’s not like you’re going to learn something once you’ve died.

After two more seasons of watching loved ones torn to pieces for the slightest miscalculations, Rick has finally grown battle-hardened, ruthless, efficient—more like Carol. The shift becomes glaringly obvious when they arrive at Alexandria, a community whose walls had almost completely insulated them from the post-apocalypse, preserving both a tiny pocket of suburban culture and the dangerous naiveté of its inhabitants. The people there are not so different from the people Rick and company used to be only a few seasons earlier, but after the survivors finally enter the city in a bottle, they view its naiveté with a mixture of contempt and concern. “These people are children,” Carol says quietly, as she watches the townspeople fumble about, more concerned with pasta makers than learning how to handle a gun.

But I know why they’re all dead: They’re dead so my family, all those people out there, can be alive.” The choice seems easy now, or at least obvious. It’s going to get people killed.” He’s Carol now, talking to the past version of himself, waiting for her to wise up before her ivory tower ideals end in a long row of tombstones. It’s a process that can be dangerous, not just for those who aren’t strong enough, but also for anyone else who can’t quite embrace the Darwinian ruthlessness it demands. Indeed, the latest (apparent) death of a major character can be traced directly back to a decision to spare an incompetent Alexandrian, reaffirming yet again how fatal it can be to coddle weakness. Soft hearts get eaten. “I wanted to kill him, so it would be easier,” said Rick after a particularly foolish Alexandrian did a particularly foolish thing in a recent episode. “So I wouldn’t have to worry about how he could screw up, about what stupid thing he’d do next.

But I realized I didn’t have to do it… Somebody like that, they’re gonna die no matter what.” Although it might sound depressing, it’s a statement that should fill Walking Dead fans with relief and excitement. Rick—the ambivalent hero we’ve been yoked to for so long—has finally gotten on board, and now that we don’t have to make constant stops to watch Rick agonize about his mercurial morality, the train is barreling forward.

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