This is your chance to bail on this blog post. I am going to talk The Walking Dead spoilers. Last night was an emotionally charged episode that crushed a lot of souls and broke every fan’s heart. Yes, it’s just a TV show, and yes, it features zombies, and yes, it focuses on the worst of humanity in most episodes where even the good guys do very bad things. But damn it, it’s a great show, and when something as monumental as what happened last night happens, regular viewers go into a deep funk, and we want answers. Like everyone else, I have my opinion – Scratch that. I have two opinions about last night’s episode: as a fan and as a writer.
SPOILERS START NOW:
As a fan: The thought that Glenn is dead is mind-numbingly depressing. He was the groups’ lighthouse of decency. When the others found themselves slipping deeper into depravity in the name of survival, he was the beacon that set them back on the righteous path. He always did the right thing, risking his life over and over again by doing so. If he is indeed dead, he died because of his goodness. His belief that everyone deserves a second chance cost him his life, not because he was wrong. Nicholas was in the process of redeeming himself, and that’s why he thanked Glenn just before shooting himself in the head. Glenn died for what he believed in, and there is no nobler way to die. If Glenn is gone, I’m as upset as anyone about it, but it was a perfect way for him to go out.
As a writer: Glenn had to die. Otherwise the audience is going to lose interest in the plight of the core characters. If they always find a way to cheat death, then there’s nothing to invest in from an audience member’s standpoint. You can’t have investment without risk. Kudos to the creators of the TV show for having the guts to kill off a beloved character when no fan would have blamed them for keeping him alive until they film their last episode in the series.
There’s a big BUT to all this. The way the scene was shot, with Nicholas falling on top of Glenn, there is an out here for the fans and creators of the show. It’s possible, but somewhat unlikely, that Glenn is simply watching in horror as Nicholas is being torn apart in a feeding frenzy by the zombie herd. As a fan, I hope that is the case. As utterly hopeless as Glenn’s situation seemed to be in that scene, I’m grasping at any straw of a hint of miracle that he will find a way out alive.
As a writer, I think it would be a huge mistake to give the audience that miracle. He has to be dead. For the sake of the fictional world they’ve so brilliantly created, Glenn cannot have survived. He has to be the consequence of risk that we all know is there. If he’s somehow survived, the show will lose some of its edge that keeps viewers terrified and unable to look away.
RIP Glenn or Thank God you survived, Glenn!