The last episode of The Walking Dead was intense, to say the least. Carol’s secret soldier skills were revealed to the people of Alexandria and Morgan’s morals were put to the test when the Wolves ambushed the safe zone. But while all of that was going on, Rick, Daryl, Glenn, Michonne, Maggie and others were still executing the plan to divert the zombie horde from the town.
What happens to them is possibly more tragic than what unfolded in Alexandria in last week’s episode.
Glenn and Michonne take the group back to the safe zone, while Rick, Daryl, Sasha and Abe stay to handle the zombies. Before the group separates, Rick tells Glenn and Michonne that the Alexandrians probably won’t make it back and that the two of them shouldn’t hesitate to abandon their neighbors because their inexperience will only get them killed.
Indeed, they don’t all make it back. A zombie bites one of the Alexandrians, David, but it isn’t immediately fatal. Rather than giving up, he stays on to help the group fight until the bite kills him. He also hopes that he will live long enough to say goodbye to his wife, or at the very least, live long enough to write her a goodbye letter and have Michonne deliver it to her.
That’s a level of bravery and dedication that we haven’t seen from many Alexandrians. Most of them would crumble when faced with their imminent death. But, David’s background seems to be the most like Rick and his family. He was alone and without hope and likely killed people to survive. Maybe they aren’t all as hopeless or sheltered as Rick thinks.
As brave as this particular group of Alexandrians may be, nearly all of them become liabilities. Those who are hurt volunteer to stay behind – which means they’ll likely die. While Michonne won’t leave them, Heath doesn’t trust that she won’t betray all of them to save her own skin.
We know that’s not who Michonne is, but we also know that she won’t hesitate to do what is best for the group as a whole. Sometimes that means leaving people behind. For Heath, that is unthinkable. But his experiences in the apocalypse have been largely sheltered, at least when compared with hers. She has no qualms telling him so:
“Have you ever had to kill people because they already killed your friends and were coming for you next? Have you ever had to do things that make you afraid of yourself?”
That last sentence provides a lot of insight into a side of Michonne we’ve never seen – we don’t get much of her internal dialogue in general on this show. We all think of her as brave, we don’t think of her as tortured. She’s steeled off the part of herself that mourns her son and loved ones, but perhaps she has yet to close off the part of herself that mourns the things that she has done since their deaths.
Nicholas and Glenn end up on their own and encounter a zombie that Nicholas knows very well. The zombie was someone that he and his group left behind on a run. When faced with the consequences of his cowardice, Nicholas is broken, but he offers to kill his former friend, almost as absolution for indirectly causing his death. Glenn tries to absolve him of his guilty by saying that Nicholas isn’t that coward anymore and volunteering to end that zombie’s “life” is proof of that.
(Seriously guys, massive spoilers below. If you do not want to be spoiled or traumatized, do not keep reading.)
But, as the show reveals later, Glenn’s belief in Nicholas is misplaced.
Glenn may not be the coward he once was, but he’s still not a soldier. When he and Glenn are surrounded by a massive horde of zombies he starts to go into a state of shock. The two are stranded on top of a dumpster with nowhere to go and Nicholas completely zones out. At first, you think he’s going to pass out and fall into the zombies, giving Glenn a chance to escape. Then you think he’s going to sacrifice himself, again, giving Glenn a chance to escape.
Neither of those things happen.
Nicholas turns to Glenn and says “thank you” and then shoots himself in the head, splattering blood all over Glenn’s face. The “thank you” was for believing in him and for trusting him, but all of that belief and trust were for nothing because his lifeless body falls on Glenn, causing them both to tumble into the hungry zombies below.
Then we see Glenn screaming as zombies rip out his insides.
We should have known this coming. Everyone in the audience should have realized it the moment Glenn called Rick a “dumbass” over the walkie. Calling Rick a “dumbass” was the first thing Glenn did when they met. We all should have known what the resurgence of that word signaled.
We also should have known because David’s story is the perfect parallel for this. Glenn won’t get to tell Maggie goodbye and there will be no note and no one to tell her how much he loved her one last time.
The entire episode shifts tone after Glenn’s death. What had been an episode full of action is now entirely somber. It is as if every facet of this show is mourning one of its most beloved characters.
Meanwhile, Rick runs into trouble of his own with the Wolves. He survives, but we know more are coming, and so does he. The consequences of Morgan’s morals are going to be devastating for everyone – as an audience, how many more beloved characters can we stand to lose?
But then again, is Glenn actually dead? There’s a lot of debate on the internet about that. It did appear that Nicholas’ body fell on top of Glenn. One theory is that the zombies were tearing into his flesh and not Glenn’s.
Even if this was true, that horde of zombies is much too large for there to be any hope of Glenn escaping. As much as we all want him to survive, it would be disingenuous to have him survive.
It’s unlikely that we’ll find out his true fate in the next episode “Here’s Not Here,” as it likely focuses on Morgan and not the group at large. Watch a trailer and a sneak peak below.