Airdate: October 25, 2015
Directed by: Michael Slovis
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Angela Kang (episode); Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore (graphic novels); Frank Darabont (creator)
Heavy. I can’t really say anything about this episode at all without giving away major spoilers. Yes, the title of my review is a spoiler – there is a strong possibility that someone big dies tonight – I’m just not saying who until after the break. So, if you’ve watched the episode, click on through to the other side. If not, watch it, then click through.
<<Spoiler Alert: The following review will discuss at length plot points of The Walking Dead S06E03, “Thank You” – read more at your own risk.>>
Fare thee well, Glenn. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s fare thee well. While Gimple and co. have left us with some cliffhangers in the past, tonight’s episode tops them all – and this is only episode three of the new season! What the hell does he have planned for us at the mid-season finale?
Glenn’s apparent death is surrounded by ambiguity, and a camera angle that does nothing to clarify what exactly happened. While it is certainly possible that Glenn is dead, I don’t buy it for two reasons:
- From the (purposefully) obtuse angle from which we see Glenn on the ground, it appears the guts are being taken from a location physically above his body, hence from Nicholas; and
- This is far too easy a death for arguably the hardest to kill of all the survivors.
Glenn is just too good at surviving to go down like this. And previous major character deaths have had a much grander exit than this. Granted, understatement can work, ironically, to emphasize; but here, I just don’t buy it. Dale got to do his own eulogy (as did Jim in Season 1), Hershel got his own going-out party, Tyreese got an excellent episode complete with flashbacks and hallucinations, and even Noah, who was here for about half a season, got a much more dramatic and visceral death. Nope, I just don’t buy it.
So how could Glenn pull out of this situation? He’s in a dead end, surrounded by walkers, with no apparent exits. I didn’t get a close look at the bottom of the dumpster he and Nicholas falls off of, so I’m unsure if there is space beneath it (most dumpsters don’t have space, although a few, those on wheels, do). Here is my list of possible escapes:
- If…and I repeat IF…there is space under the dumpster, Glenn might be able to shuffle underneath and wait out the walkers
- Glenn hides beneath Nicholas’s body, playing dead and hoping that the walkers don’t eat through to the tastier morsels beneath; of course, this presupposes that there will be
- A distraction. Someone, or something, grabs the walkers’ attention, and they wander off, taking Glenn for dead as he’s beneath Nicholas’s body. If this is the case, I personally vote for Rick’s gunfire being a distraction (when he’s attacked by the Wolves in the RV)
- Glenn will come out of the shower, and tell us it was all a dream
- Steven Yeun will magically switch places with Kit Harrington, somehow saving both Glenn and Jon Snow
- Carol. Just Carol
Here’s a poll, so you can let me know what you think is the most likely outcome:
Now let’s get to the review and synopsis.
Yet another excellent episode. Lots of tension, a whole bunch of deaths (talk about thinning out the herd!), and once again the age-old rule known to Dungeons & Dragons players the world over – but apparently not to survivors of the zombie apocalypse – is broken: never let the group separate.
We don’t see any of the people back in Alexandria tonight, focusing instead on three separate storylines: Daryl along with Abraham and Sasha at the head of half the herd; Rick, who separates from the others to try to circle back and get the RV; and Michonne and Glenn, together with Heath, Nicholas, and some Alexandrian Redshirts, trying to get back to Alexandria while being chased by the other half of the herd.
Abraham and Sasha are focused on completing what they’ve started, but Daryl is torn. He knows things have gone all FUBAR back with Rick and the gang, and his loyalty to Rick and Glenn supersedes that to Abraham and Sasha. He tells the others that he’s going to go back at the five mile mark, and Abraham, ever the sergeant, reminds him that they’re to go twenty miles out – “That’s the mission!” Sasha also asks him to stay, telling him that if he leaves they might not be able to make it alone. But he sees a billboard for Alexandria, shakes his head, and says, “Naw. I have faith in you guys,” and takes off back to see if he can help.
The rest begin in a single group of Rick, Michonne, Glenn, Heath, Nicholas, and assorted Alexandrians, running through the forest ahead of the herd. Rick tells the others to keep going, as he’s going to try to get the RV and circle around. Before he leaves, he takes Glenn and Michonne aside, and tells them to leave the others behind if they have to. Heath overhears, and takes this comment – predictably – in the worst possible way, treating Michonne with a surly lack of trust as they head back to the town. I don’t blame Heath for this for a second; he’s been out of Alexandria, and returns to find Rick’s group in charge, and people he knew well dead. Of course he’s going to look at Rick at much less a savior, and more a usurper.
Rick runs…and runs…and runs…heading back the way they’ve already been, avoiding the herd as he goes. He comes across a small group of walkers, breaks his knife, and grabs a convenient machete stuck in another to dispatch them. He cuts his hand in the process, an injury that is given just a little too much attention for it to be purely innocent – watch for it to be significant in a later episode.
He gets a radio message from Glenn, telling him what he and Michonne are planning (more on that in a bit), and Glenn signs off calling Rick a “dumbass” – the same thing he called Rick when he was stuck in the tank all the way back in Atlanta, the first time we ever heard Glenn speak (also over a radio, also with Rick). Yes, this is a clear shoutout to that first meeting, and thus indicative of this perhaps being Glenn’s swansong, but I still refuse to believe it until I see the body.
Rick gets to the RV, and drives it to where he intends to rendezvous with Glenn and Michonne. He’s unable to rouse them, however, and he starts to get concerned. He does briefly communicate with Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha, and tells them that they’ll work things out. This ultimately causes Daryl to reassess his decision to abandon Abraham and Sasha, and he returns to help them lead the herd away.
As Rick sits waiting, he senses movement behind him, and dives out of the way just in time as one of the Wolves – the one that Morgan foolishly allowed to leave Alexandria with a gun taken off one of the dead Alexandrians – fires said gun at Rick. Rick jumps him, but then is tackled by another wolf. Fighting him off, he’s able to pull his gun and shoot both men. Sitting back down, he sees another group of Wolves sneaking up beside the RV, so he grabs a machine gun and mows them all down through the RV’s wall.
He looks exhausted, and when he’s unable to fire up the RV again, defeated.
This is exacerbated by what we’ve just seen come shortly before in the episode. As Glenn and Michonne guide Heath, Nicholas, and the gang back to Alexandria, they start getting picked off. One guy, who blames all their woes on Rick, gets his throat ripped out (teach him to bad mouth Rick!); another shoots wildly and runs away, tagging zero walkers but hitting another Alexandrian – Scott [Kenric Green] in the leg; a third – a nice guy with a wife back in town – gets his shoulder bitten, but soldiers on; and another twists her ankle, but does her best to keep moving.
They end up in a small town near Alexandria. Nicholas has been here before on a run in the bad old days, and Glenn asks him to take the lead. They hole up temporarily in a pet store in order to treat the wounded, and Glenn heads out with Nicholas to start a fire in a local feed store, hoping to attract and distract the half the herd still following them. In the store, Michonne finally confronts Heath over his sullen remarks and pouty face. He thinks that his occasional runs outside Alexandria give him a good idea of what life is like outside the walls, but Michonne quickly disabuses him of this notion. She asks him, “Do you know what it feels like to have so much blood on your face, that you don’t know what’s yours and what’s your friends’?” He backs down – he realizes that Michonne and crew have been through a lot more than he has, and he either a) has a bit more growing to do, or b) is afraid of angering these potentially homicidal outsiders.
Just as the herd arrives in town, a couple of walkers trapped in a hidden back room begin to make a lot of noise. Michonne dispatches them, but not before they attract more walkers. Sensing that there’s no other choice, the four of them – Michonne, Heath, and the two injured Alexandrians, make a break for it, shooting as they go.
Meanwhile, Glenn and Nicholas arrive at the feed store – only to find that it’s already burned to the ground. The herd approaches, cutting off all the easy escape routes, and Nicholas – as he’s done several times in the past – freezes. Glenn shouts him out of it, and asks which way they should go. Nicholas hesitates, then leads them down and alley which, predictably, stops at a deadend. There are climbable fences all around, but walkers are on the other sides of them as well. The two scramble atop a lone dumpster, and try to avoid getting pulled into the horde below. Nicholas begins to lose it, staring at the walkers, and tuning out the noise. Glenn again tries to shout at him, trying to get him to calm down. Nicholas looks up at Glenn, says, “Thank you,” and puts his gun to his head, pulling the trigger. His body falls to the ground, pulling Glenn with him.
We cut to a close-up on Glenn’s face as walkers start eviscerating one of the two men – again, it’s really tough to call whether it’s Glenn’s viscera being eaten, or Nicholas’s. We get a POV shot from Glenn’s position, and see three walkers seeming to relish their feast. The camera pulls out for a top-down shot, and we see just how many walkers there are, as they crowd down the narrow alleyway around the dumpster. We don’t see either Glenn or Nicholas, but we can see where the walkers are eating…something.
Back in the town, the woman with the twisted ankle falls, and is quickly overrun. The three remaining survivors – Michonne, Heath, and Scott – manage to outrun the herd, and end up outside Alexandria – where they’re faced with the crashed semi and other evidence of the Wolves’ recent attack.
The episode ends on Rick in the RV, a top-down shot of the herd exiting the woods to surround the vehicle.
So, again, the question is simple: is Glenn dead? We likely won’t find out anytime soon, as the previews for next week appear to show the Morgan-as-badass origin story. I must admit, I’m kind of angry at Morgan right now. I love the guy, truly, but he almost got Rick killed directly (the Wolves that he let go), and perhaps may still do so indirectly (the herd was attracted by Rick’s gunfire – gunfire that was necessitated by the Wolves being, you know, still alive and all). Maybe next week will make me love him a bit more again.
Glenn has been a mainstay since the very beginning of the series. After Rick and Morgan, he was the next character to make an appearance, and out of the Atlanta group, there’s only him, Carol, Daryl, and Karl left. Maggie and Michonne are as much a part of the group as anyone, and I think Abraham and Sasha have made their argument to be included as well (less so Eugene and Rosita, or Tara, though I do enjoy their bits), but there are few characters more beloved than Glenn. Personally, I’d place him as my number three guy, right behind Daryl and Carol, and just above Rick and Michonne. Readers of the comics already know some stuff about most of these characters that is considerably different from what’s been happening in the show – we can’t really use the comic as anything more than a loose guide at this point.
That said, the things that happen to Glenn in the comic are somewhat worse, in a way, than what happens here, but serve to forward a very important storyline that Gimple has already hinted is coming either this season or next. If that’s the case, there are two possibilities: either Glenn isn’t really dead, as he has an important role yet to play, or he’s dead, meaning someone else will play that role. This would work out similar to the Dale/Hershel/Tyreese or Andrea/Carol changes that occurred between the book and the show, wherein the same approximate events take place, only to different characters at different times. (On a side note, for those of you who only watch the show, this should give you a good reason to go out and read the comic – the stories have all the familiar characters you know and love (minus Daryl and a few others), but have largely different plots and outcomes – well worth your time, and highly entertaining.)
Much like the opening three episodes from last season, we’re now in the middle episode of a strong narrative arc, leading to some tremendously tense and high-stakes television. Last season, it was the Terminus escape, followed by the fight with the survivors of Terminus, the Hunters, over the next two episodes. This season, it’s the Episode 602 attack on Alexandria, followed by the splitting of the herd and ensuing panic (and possibly Glenn’s death) tonight, and a culmination when we see what happens when this huge herd collides with Alexandria’s already weakened – and largely undefended, due to massive losses – walls. This third story in the arc, however, won’t likely hit until Episode 605, as we need to do Morgan’s story first.
Last season, this hurt the narrative flow. Just as things got built up over Episodes 501-503, we jumped to Atlanta and the hospital in Episode 504, which slowed down the pace and was, to be honest, a fairly weak episode overall, especially compared with the adrenaline rush that was the previous three. Are we likely to face the same disruption this year?
I actually don’t think so. As much as I liked Beth – and I developed a pretty big soft spot for her after the focus episodes between her and Daryl in Season 4 – I found the whole Grady Memorial storyline to be somewhat contrived and, frankly, boring. It opened a set of sub-par episodes in what was otherwise a very strong season. The saving grace here, however, should be Morgan. For one, Lennie James is a hell of an accomplished actor, and he’ll have no problem carrying the narrative weight. For another, quarter-staff zen monk action. He’s the male version of Michonne, only kinder and gentler, and that should lead to an interesting backstory. Plus, I’m dying to find out how he became what he is, considering that the last time we saw him before he reappeared briefly outside Terminus was in Episode 312 “Clear”, and back then he was basically insane. Where did he get his skills? How has he avoided killing? What’s his favorite food? Questions will be answered.
Overall, I really enjoyed/hated tonight’s episode. While I didn’t find it quite as exciting as last week, it was certainly just as intense. Last week involved a lot of cheering, especially with regard to Carol; this, a lot of shock and tempered sorrow, as I struggle to figure out whether or not Glenn is really gone. And heck, if Gimple is willing to kill off one of the show’s mainstays in the third episode, who is to say that even Rick’s safe? After all, he looks pretty vulnerable right now in that dead RV.
Steve’s Grade: A-
An intense episode that may – or may not – have had arguably the biggest character death of the series so far (apologies to all our dearly departed). Only time will tell if Glenn has made his last run.