Back in the fall on The Walking Dead, Glenn died. He fell off a dumpster, pulled his “oh no, they’re eating my guts!” face whilst walkers feasted on entrails as he lay on the ground, and no one was able to raise him on the radio. When his name was removed from the opening credits for the next few weeks, it seemed only a matter of time before Maggie would have to chop his shuffling little head off. Then – SPOILERS – it turned out he wasn’t dead after all, and viewers were NOT happy.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, star Yeun, who plays Glenn, has sought to explain the thinking behind the move. Apparently, it was all for us, the viewers, and not some lame and ill-thought stunt that backfired. And he actually makes a good case.
“I was all gung-ho and in for it, and whatever anybody wants to say about the execution — people might be bummed about it or be fine with it, and I have my own personal opinions about it — but the core of it all is really that we went for something, that we tried something, in a time when we’re getting drudged-down, safe versions of everything.”
You can’t really fault the logic in that. Yeun continues:
“(We were) trying to make the audience feel the same way as how people back in Alexandria must have felt not knowing where Glenn was. And whether the audience believes that we executed that well or not, we went for it, and even in the face of victory or failure, when you go for something, that’s all you can really hang your hat on.”
There seems to be a concerted effort recently, both with the entertainment-makers and their audiences, to reign in the spoiler-happy culture we seem to have fallen into these past few years. J.J. Abrams managed to keep most of the secrets and plot of The Force Awakens under wraps and audiences were, on the whole, respectful enough to do the same. And then there is Bowie. And as Yeun explains ‘Glenngate’, the idea was sound, in principle at least.
But we as an audience do not like being messed with or deceived. We put a lot of trust, not to mention time, into our favourite shows and when something underhand is done, that trust is damaged. It’s a full thirty years ago that Bobby Ewing stepped out from a shower and removed the entire previous season from Dallas. That marked the beginning of the end to one of the most popular shows of it’s time. Glenn’s non-death isn’t on a par with that, not by a long way, but show’s producers need to take note.
Yet it’s comforting to know that such thought, care and attention to detail is afforded by The Walking Dead team t it’s viewers. Their analysis of most shows being drudged-down and safe is correct, as is their desire to instil some mystery and uncertainty once more. God knows we need it, and more to the point want it. Yeun concludes:
“We’re here to affect you, and if you saw to the degree that people were affected — I think even if it was negative — it did something. And I can’t really ask for much more than that, you know?”
The Walking Dead returns to AMC this Sunday, February 14th. It’s all building to an intense season finale, as we reported earlier. Perfect Valentines viewing. You can catch the first four minutes below: