This Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 3
Well, they finally did it. For years, AMC has teased the death of Glenn, a character doomed to die from the moment he had something to lose. Year after year, we’ve suffered through the almost death of the pizza guy turned zombie killer. Oh no, Glenn almost got bitten! Yikes, that guy’s about to bash his head in with a baseball bat…Always in the heat of battle, Glenn was dangerously close to death.
Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Thank You,” gives us the scene we’d almost stopped waiting for, convinced that his death was a little farther down the road. Where the show is, based on Robert Kirkman’s comics, was definitely an indication that Glenn was safe for a while longer, that he’d succumb to a much bigger threat than we ultimately get here. But instead, Glenn gets an unexceptional death, doesn’t he?
And it’s well done. Sucks for Glenn, but the show definitely needed a big death at an unexpected moment in the season. The Walking Dead has lacked real stakes in its last few seasons, that feeling that anyone could die at any moment. The more we’ve seen of the main characters, the more indestructible they’ve become. Any time we see Rick, Daryl, or Michonne facing overwhelming odds, we can pretty much predict that they’ll escape unscathed somehow. It’s happened so many times at this point that these characters seem to have developed plot armor.
So, giving us a BIG death like Glenn’s in a THIRD episode of a season is a godsend for this show. All bets are suddenly off. Now Michonne, Daryl, and especially Rick look like they’re in deep shit. Glenn’s death isn’t even in the last few moments of the episode, but about two-thirds in, which gave us 15 minutes of unrivaled terror, as we awaited the fates of the other mains. It was startling in the way Dale’s death was in the third to last episode of season 2, as he was ambushed by a walker out of nowhere on the farm. Deaths like these remind you that no one is safe, especially when they don’t follow The Walking Dead‘s death beats: season premiere, midseason finale, midseason premiere, season finale.
Ah, but this all sounds like I’m celebrating Glenn’s death, doesn’t it? No, I was genuinely hurt by it, by how unexceptional and shitty it was. It wasn’t a good death at all, less than the character deserved. Even as he found himself standing on a dumpster, surrounded by walkers and the idiotic Nicholas—who has just become the most hated supporting character in all of Walking Dead history (great job on Michael Traynor’s part)—I always thought he’d make it out. This death would be too lonely, too horrific, too sudden. But it’s also a testament to Glenn’s character. Even as Nicholas took his own life, Glenn tried to catch him before tumbling into the zombie horde for the most tragic death scene this show has ever produced. (Less graphic than Noah’s, sure, but infinitely more tragic.) Good men die on this show, as they always have, though.
Somehow, I even thought, as they fell into the horde, that Glenn would survive that, perhaps shielded by Nicholas’ corpse. I pictured the walkers eating Nick, while Glenn lied there very still. Yes, very unrealistic, but it just goes to show how deep my belief in the plot armor went. Glenn’s death snaps me right out of that, and it makes the manic cliffhanger of the episode all the more terrifying. WILL Rick escape that trailer in time?
Rick heads out on his own for some epic/badass running scenes. His plan is to recover the RV in order to herd the walkers, half of which have broken off from the main group, back onto the road. But along the way, Rick has his hand cut, and suddenly he’s bleeding out. He does make it to the RV, and even has to fight off some Wolves, who are roaming around after the battle in Alexandria. Rick kicks their asses, of course, but his machine gun fire not only breaks the RV, but also alerts the horde that there’s a lonely survivor waiting to be eaten.
There’s a lot going on with Rick in these last few scenes. For one thing, he knows Alexandria is under attack, not by walkers but Wolves, after he finds food preserves in one of their pockets. And he’s also bleeding heavily—by the way, is the show trying to trick us into thinking Rick was bitten earlier on? It seems that Rick wants to say something into his radio, to say something to his people, but he hesitates. Is that defeat on Rick’s face? Is it the sudden realization that he might not make it out alive and that he’s doomed his people to death?
“Thank You” did more for The Walking Dead than the last two seasons combined. Suddenly, the odds are massively against these characters, no one is safe, and we feel the intense sadness of their possible fates. And like I said in my review of the season premiere, I’m glad to see the walkers—those creeping symbols of inevitable death—at the forefront of it all. Season 6, as a whole, might be my favorite season of this show yet.
There’s plenty more to dissect in this episode, but I’m going to get through these quickly…
– The setup for Glenn’s death is exceptional. We get sad Glenn face, as he decides to go on a suicide mission to save Michonne and the others some time, and then the moment when he’s looking at Hershel’s pocket watch. Finally, he calls Rick a “dumbass” before heading out on his mission, which brings things full circle for these two characters. It’s the stuff tears are made of.
– Michonne’s moments with the Alexandrians are great. “You’re getting home” has quickly become the mantra of these zombie shepherds, who all look destined to die beyond the walls of Alexandria. Seriously, these guys are starting to look like the 300 Spartans.
– “Toilet Paper Letter to Betsy” should be a James Patterson prison or postapocalyptic romance novel.
– What is going on with Daryl? He seems to want to disobey Rick at every turn, even at the expense of Abraham and Sasha. I’m really excited to see the confrontation between Rick and Daryl when they get back to Alexandria. If they both get back…
– I really want to watch the Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha episode next. We’ve barely seen these three, besides fast cuts of them leading the horde away from Alexandria. I want to see how they’re eventually going to cut the zombies loose…There’s an interesting dynamic between these three characters waiting to be explored.
– Oh, it’s going to be interesting when Glenn doesn’t return to Alexandria…No one saw him die, after all. Will Maggie go out searching for him? I’m not sure I can deal with that. Also, should this show be renamed “Kill Everyone Maggie Loves?”
Stay tuned for our weekly reviews of The Walking Dead season 6! And don’t forget to listen to the new episode of our weekly Walking Dead podcast, Den of Geek Presents No Room in Hell: