Did The Walking Dead Just Jump the Shark With an Idiotic Fake-Out Death? [Spoilers!]

Monday, 26 October 2015 - 10:23AM
Monday, 26 October 2015 - 10:23AM
Did The Walking Dead Just Jump the Shark With an Idiotic Fake-Out Death? [Spoilers!]
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Goddammit, Walking Dead. You beat the odds and gave us last week's "JSS," a perfectly paced, brutally violent, and unbearably tense episode. It takes a lot for a show to deliver arguably one of the series's best episodes six seasons in. Last night's episode, "Thank You," wasn't quite as great, but it did shock the fans to their cores with a tragic, unsentimental, and even more gory than usual death of a beloved original character. It was not at all an ambiguous death, but Scott Gimple and co. are acting really cagey about admitting that this character is dead. And if he's not, that's really, really, mind-numbingly stupid.

Spoilers ahead!

Approximately three-quarters into the episode, Glenn and Nicholas found themselves trapped in a horde of walkers, taking refuge by standing on a dumpster, but not really having a way out. Glenn is extremely resourceful, as we all know, so they probably would have made it out. But as we've seen, Nicholas is a coward, so he says "Thank you," presumably for Glenn forgiving and sparing him last season, shoots himself in the head, and sends them both tumbling to the ground. We see Glenn on the ground, walkers swarm him, and then he's literally ripped apart, and the walkers start eating his intestines. There is nothing ambiguous about this death, or at least there shouldn't be. 

I'm a huge horror fan, and even I felt a little bit sick after watching this:

Fans started to hope that Glenn somehow made it out of this situation, which sounds ridiculous if you've seen the episode. We don't technically see him die, I suppose, but no one could survive those injuries, and even if he somehow made it out of there, he's been bitten and scratched by the walkers, so he would die very quickly anyway. Some said that Nicholas may have fallen onto Glenn, shielding him from the walkers, but there's no good reason to think that. The angle does only show him from the shoulders up, but he looks like he's being torn apart from very near his shoulders, not from down below where we can't see. And (sorry to be morbid) but he looks very much like he's screaming out of pain, not fear. And even if Nicholas did fall onto him, they are completely swarmed, and it would be completely far-fetched to think Glenn could escape without so much as a scratch or bite. By any reasonable interpretation of events, Glenn should be dead as a f*cking doornail. 

But after last night's episode of The Talking Dead and Robert Kirkman's wishy-washy statement about Glenn's "death," I think this is more than just wishful thinking. I think these fans are right, and Glenn didn't die last night. First, Steven Yeun wasn't on Talking Dead, which would mark the first time the show didn't feature the actor whose character just died. I doubt they would diverge from that trend for the first time with a character as beloved as Glenn. The hosts carefully avoided actually saying that Glenn is dead, and Scott Gimple issued a prepared statement that read:

Opening quote
"Dear fans of The Walking Dead, this is a hard story to tell, and when we were planning to tell it, we knew our friends over at Talking Dead would be talking to you about it, and knowing you'd talking and feeling and commiserating, I knew we should say something about it, lest our silence say something we didn't mean to say or not say so I will say this," Gimple wrote. "In some way, we will see Glenn, some version of Glenn or parts Glenn again, either in flashback, or current story, to help complete the story."
Closing quote

"Or current story." Or current story?? 

The Walking Dead is sci-fi, and the genre is known for "deaths" that don't exactly take (that's why you always double-tap). But the show has always been more grounded than that; some are comparing Glenn's death to Jon Snow's, but this isn't fantasy. When people die on TWD, they stay dead. And yes, I know the argument here is that Glenn never actually died, not that he's coming back to life, but if that's true, this show has really jumped the shark. It's not ambiguous, it's just plain manipulative, not to mention a cop-out. They haven't killed an original character since Andrea back in season three (and no one cared about her anyway), and although Glenn's death was tragically unheroic, it worked with the themes of the show. He was forgiving of Nicholas, and he was killed for his kindness, because in the post-apocalypse, no good deed goes unpunished. Glenn is a cunning person, which allowed him to stay alive for this long, but according to everything the show has told us about this brave new world, someone that soft-hearted was never going to be the one that survives in the long run.

To be clear, I absolutely love Glenn, and was heartbroken when he died (although we were somewhat prepared for it). And to some extent, I understand why they're doing this; Glenn's death in the comics is one of the most iconic scenes in the entire series, and this fake-out will make that death more surprising, I guess. But if The Walking Dead is going to become a show that manipulates its viewers so blatantly and depicts core characters pulling off increasingly far-fetched escapes from near-death situations, it will be placed squarely in the realm of "guilty pleasure," at best.
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