This review contains spoilers.
6.7 Heads Up
At the time, I was critical of the placement of the super-sized Morgan episode Here’s Not Here. It was in the very middle of the first half of season six, splitting up what was one of the show’s three best back-to-back-to-back episodes with a flashback side-quest concerning a secondary character and some folks we would never get to see again. It was a great episode, but it came in the middle of some very tense stuff. Rick was stranded in an RV surrounded by walkers, The wolves had been beaten back by the Alexandrians but could be regrouping, and Schrodinger’s Glenn was stuck in the middle of a ravenous horde, with show staff unwilling to either admit he was dead or admit he was alive, leaving fans stuck in some sort of impossible limbo.
However, having watched a few more episodes in the wake of Here’s Not Here, the placement of that instalment makes a lot more sense. We’ve seen how the events of that episode inform Morgan’s decision-making before the episode happened, and in the wake of it, Morgan’s actions make more sense and it comes up in the midst of this week’s episode. Perhaps more importantly than the character motivation, Morgan’s extra-large episode provided a much-needed chance for the viewing audience to catch their collective breath.
Three very tense episodes in a row, each leading into the other, each elevating the stakes for our survivors. A chance to breathe, a chance to meditate, and back to the grind with three more brilliantly tense episodes in a row leading up to the season finale. It’s really one of the show’s most impressive feats. The episodes connected to Alexandria all bleed into one another, slowly elevating the stakes for everyone involved. Even when there’s a chance to breathe, there’s no real chance to breathe because things just keep happening to Alexandria or to Rick’s group or to people in Rick’s group. There are pauses, plateaus, but there’s no let-up at any time. Even last week’s Daryl-centric episode ended up introducing a new antagonist group and left one of the show’s most beloved characters in a real lurch. In the wake of the Glenn struggles, is Daryl really safe? Is anyone safe?
I have to give a great deal of credit to writer Channing Powell for this week’s episode. There are a number of discussions characters have with one another, talking about this moral issue and that moral issue, but unlike certain other shows I’ve been watching recently, these conversations end up being very good to watch, both as a showcase for the actors involved and as a way for the show to move plots along without blowing special effects budgets even more so. A roundtable discussion with Rick, Carol, Michonne, and Morgan about Morgan’s lack of killing ability is as intense in execution as the walkers battering on the walls. Tara (whose actress, Alanna Masterson, is so blatantly pregnant it’s not even funny) and Rick butting heads over whether or not to save Spencer and how best to do that is as much in the watcher’s head as it is on the screen, as there’s clearly still some us-versus-them that Rick carries but others, like Tara, are forgetting or getting past as she risks her life to save an Alexandrian who has screwed up on more than one occasion.
Even while resolving quandaries, like the current fate of Glenn, the episode builds more potential problems. There’s an untrained Ron walking around with a gun. Gabriel’s attempts at organising a prayer circle are thwarted by Rick, who clearly still hasn’t forgiven him for throwing the group under the bus last season. Abraham and Rosita are going to have to have a discussion about their relationship. Deanna may or may not be a little crazy. And, oh yeah, there’s a building shedding pieces that director David Boyd keeps going back to that’s going to be a problem sooner, rather than later. Given the way the show’s been functioning, where things just seem to keep happening one after the other, the end result isn’t a surprise to anyone except perhaps for timing.
Speaking of timing, a certain character’s cliffhanger has been resolved just in time for the season finale next episode. I’ve avoided even thinking about discussing it to this point, but I feel like it’s something I can’t avoid talking about, so as always, stop here if you’re not looking to be spoiled. Enjoy this picture of Daphne the Spoiler Squirrel and come back after you’ve watched it if you’re not watching the show like me, at US pace
Still here? Good!
It’s been probably a month since Glenn “died” in universe terms, but thankfully, the episode ends that question immediately, picking up where the hint of Glenn’s voice at the end of Always Accountable and giving us exactly what those of us who expected the show to weasel out of killing him expected. Glenn is covered in Nicholas’s body and he skitters under the world’s tallest dumpster to avoid certain death at the hands of the horde, and he lays there for three days (or more) until the zombies wander off.
After the outburst of shocked emotion at Glenn’s faked death, it seems very manipulative for the show to bring him back like this, and it also strains belief that anyone, no matter how emaciated by bad canned goods and lots of cardio, could squeeze under a rubbish bin.
However—and I say this with a very heavy sigh—this is a show where people survive impossible odds all the time and where other people die to the dumbest situations imaginable. Tyreese waded into a crowd of walkers with nothing but a hammer and walked out alive. Rick’s survived everything thus far, too. Daryl has fandom armour. Glenn was vulnerable, Glenn by all rights shouldn’t have logically gotten out of that situation alive, and yet… I’m not as angry about it as I thought I would be about it. I guess I expected it to happen the entire time. Part of the reason is probably how good Glenn’s scenes are with Enid, but most of it is probably just because I think that’s how everyone expected it to play out.
I wish I was more disappointed about Glenn’s return. I’ve complained a lot about it to friends and family and people that watch the show that bringing Glenn back would be the biggest cop-out in the show’s history, and yet… I can’t be mad. I love the actor and I love the character (his scenes with Enid are great, both tense and funny), and while I want to be upset, I can’t. I’m just happy Glenn is back and ready to save the day yet again.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan is ready to end Glenn Watch 2015, but he’s not in charge of The Walking Dead, so he can’t stop them from dragging Glenn’s fate out for yet another week. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.