"Walking Dead" grumble thread: Did I tell you or did I tell you?

Let me quote. October 26:

They’re not sending Glenn out this way. Those weren’t his entrails being torn out, they were Nicholas’s. Glenn is underneath him, somehow “protected” even though the zombies are in a feeding frenzy and would be biting and tearing at everything in front of them. Imagine you and a friend were being assaulted by a mob. Do you think you would be “protected” if your friend momentarily landed on top of you as the thugs punched and kicked ruthlessly? The idea of it is moronic, but it looks like that’s where we’re headed. Glenn’s probably going to slide out from under Nicholas and under the dumpster and then, deus ex machina, Daryl’s going to ride by on his bike and distract the zombie horde.

I got the last bit wrong. It wasn’t Daryl who finally drew the zombies away, it was … actually, I don’t think they ever explained what distracted them, which is a fitting “whatever” to this whole “whatever” non-cliffhanger with Glenn. I’m saying “I told you so” tongue-in-cheek here because the truth is that the entire Internet guessed that Glenn would somehow survive this obviously unsurvivable situation. And embarrassingly, I didn’t guess it! (At first.) When I watched the dumpster scene the night it first aired, I thought it was a brilliant way to send off a beloved character, an ingenious shock precisely because the heroic core cast of the show never dies in that kind of cruel, meaningless, but completely realistic way. The main theme of “The Walking Dead” isn’t that life is awful in the zombie apocalypse or that you do what you need to do to survive, it’s that certain people are endowed with an almost supernatural degree of mettle that makes them invulnerable to deadly situations that would finish off a lesser mortal. And that mettle doesn’t always express itself in superb fighting skills, like Rick somehow taking out four armed Wolves in the RV. Sometimes it expresses itself as sheer luck, like Nicholas landing on top of Glenn as the zombies converge or Daryl somehow not getting shot in the face when he brought the insulin back to that group last week. There’s a video-game sensibility to it. If you build up your — oh, let’s call them midichlorians, for lack of a better term. If you build up your midichlorians to a high enough level by surviving a sufficiently high number of attacks from zombies and warlords, then you effectively can’t be killed by normal means. If you get cornered by a dumpster by 100 hungry zombies, rest assured that not only will your dead friend perfectly shield you, the dumpster itself will be raised to just enough height that you can slide under it and slip out of their grasp.

The reason the cliffhanger failed so badly to build suspense is because viewers are wise to these unwritten rules of heroism and “midichlorians” on the show. We didn’t spend five seasons watching Glenn become a zombie-killing Jedi master to see him torn apart next to a big garbage can where no one will ever find his remains. It’s as ridiculous as Luke Skywalker getting blown away during a gunfight with Stormtroopers. Which makes you wonder: Why did the show’s creators bother with the big fake-out in the first place? Is it part of a bigger plan for Glenn?

If you’re a fan of the comics (or even if you’re not, given how much press this has gotten lately), you know that the show recently cast someone to play Negan, the next diabolical warlord to challenge the Grimes gang. You also know that, in the comics, Negan kills Glenn. That’s not a spoiler because the show has deviated from the comics already in various ways; it’s possible that Negan and Glenn won’t even meet onscreen. If they do, though, the suspense surrounding that meeting will be even more intense now than it otherwise would have been. Giving Glenn a miracle by the dumpster feels like the show’s way of teasing hardcore fans that Glenn can’t die this way because he needs to die that way, once Negan comes into the picture. They’re head-faking you, making you think Glenn is now safe for many episodes to come when really they’ve been planning to kill him off anyway before the season’s through. And Negan sounds like enough of a supervillain that he really might have the stature required to dispatch Glenn. (He’s a Sith, not a Stormtrooper. A Sith can vanquish a Jedi.) The problem they’re setting themselves up for, though, is this: Given how well known the Negan/Glenn scene is to fans of the comic, can the show really avoid it altogether? I say no. But if they do force a confrontation between the two characters, is there any way they spare Glenn again? One death tease per season is sort of permissible, but if they put him in another situation where he’s mere moments from being killed and ends up being somehow rescued in the nick of time, it’ll make an already ridiculous show seem that much more absurd. (Remember, Glenn’s already survived at least two near-death experiences, one when he was sick at the prison and the other when he nearly had his throat slit at Terminus.) If you want to maintain a degree of suspense about the characters’ fates, you have to follow through on killing them off now and then. Otherwise it’s just a long series of scenes of Indiana Jones dangling off a cliff. Spoiler: Indy’s not going to die by falling off a cliff.

So we’ll see. I think they have no choice now but to have Negan send Glenn to meet his maker, which is going to feel awfully weird after the mass “whew!” uttered by millions of fans last night. In fact, Steven Yeun even cut an odd promo for the network that aired during the show that followed TWD thanking fans for all of their support. (See below.) Is AMC really going to repay the loyalty of Glenn groupies out there by having Negan play baseball with his skull three months from now? And if Glenn’s near demise is this traumatic for TWD fans, what are they going to do when Daryl eventually goes belly up? Good lord. The network will have to hire grief counselors for its viewers. Exit question: Did anything else noteworthy happen in last night’s episode, besides the guard tower finally falling? (How the hell did Rick et al. not notice that it was unstable?) The only bit that really grabbed me was Ron stealing some bullets and apparently preparing to go all “Pumped Up Kicks” on Carl and the rest of the townspeople.

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