7:58pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Walking Dead': Saying "Thank You" and Goodbye to Negan's Second Victim
[Warning: This story contains spoilers through the Walking Dead season seven premiere.]
There's a moment in the fifth season premiere of The Walking Dead that traumatized nearly every single one of the show's comic book-reading fans.
It's right as Gareth and the Terminus cannibals bring Rick, Daryl, Glenn and Bob to the trough, where the man-eating monsters plan to knock our heroes unconscious, slit their throats to drain them of blood and turn the corpses into edible meat. They even succeed in a few cases. (Rest in peace, Sam; hope you're having an OK time swimming with the fishes in Gotham City.) Hard to forget that scene, right? Even harder if you were a fan who knew the outcome of The Walking Dead #100, the milestone issue of the comics that sees new bad guy Negan bash longtime fan-favorite Glenn's head in with a baseball bat … because that climactic season five premiere scene culminates in a Terminus goon nearly striking Glenn on the back of the head with a baseball bat of his own.
The moment knowingly echoes Glenn's famous comic book death, and now, Glenn's death on the show. After months of guessing the fate of Negan's victim, the answer has finally arrived, and the bat has landed on Glenn's head. In the comics, and likely on the show, Glenn's death serves as a turning point for the people he left behind, most especially his pregnant wife Maggie. But those scenarios are for another day. For now, let's take one last opportunity to say goodbye to Glenn, one of the show's last remaining season one veterans — until he ran into Negan. (Click here for more on how Glenn died in the comics.)
Glenn is part of the fabric of Walking Dead from the very beginning of the series, even if he doesn't appear in the flesh until his second episode. His voice guides both Rick and viewers out of the series premiere, appearing over the radio inside the Army tank keeping Rick safe from a herd of walkers. Glenn's first line of the whole series? "Hey, asshole!" An uncharacteristically vulgar introduction for someone who provided the show with so much heart, but certainly a memorable one.
It Takes Guts
In his first full episode onscreen, Glenn and Rick navigate their way out of a zombie-infested city street by covering themselves in walker gore. It's a tactic the show hasn't leaned on too much, even if Fear the Walking Dead has gotten heavily invested in zombie camouflage. Still, it's a great early moment for the show, one that's ripped straight from the pages of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's comics.
Among Glenn's great traits, his propensity for getting in and out of tight situations was one of the best. The earliest and perhaps greatest example dates back to season two, when Rick's gang tied Glenn to a rope and lured him down into a well on Hershel's farm, where he was to dispense of a walker trapped at the bottom of the well. It did not go well.
When Glenn Met Maggie
Of course, Glenn's second season wasn't just about waterlogged walkers. At its core, it was about Maggie Greene, the love of his life. From the moment they laid eyes on each other in the woods outside of Hershel's farm, to their infamous pharmacy hook-up and the deeper connections beyond, Glenn and Maggie's romance was one of the show's few bright spots of hope and optimism in such an otherwise oppressively dark world.
Glenn and Maggie's relationship, not to mention the safety of their loved ones, was called into question when The Governor destroyed the prison. Maggie lost her father, her sister and almost her husband. But Glenn survived the initial assault, despite how it looked at first glance. He strapped on security armor found within the prison and hit the road, never once looking back on his relentless quest to reunite with Maggie. Once in each other's arms again, they mutually burned the only photograph of each other they ever possessed, swearing to never part ways again. About that…
As mentioned before, Glenn's eventual fate was teased as early on as the show's fifth season premiere, with the baseball bat in Terminus. It's not Glenn's only encounter with a bat, either, and not even the only encounter of the fifth season. Later on, when visiting Noah's old neighborhood, Glenn finds a baseball bat in a garage, and spends a curious amount of time focusing on the thing … as if he was drawn to it, knowing the role it would play in his life some day.
The Revolting Revolving Door
Speaking of Noah, the optimistic young man joined Glenn and friends for a while, up until his absolutely disgusting evisceration toward the end of season five. Glenn witnessed the carnage firsthand, choking back tears and vomit in equal measure, traumatized forevermore by Noah's violent demise. Little did he know that his own death would rival Noah's in the trauma department.
The third episode of season six brought about Glenn's all-time most controversial moment, albeit one that wasn't Glenn's fault at all: "Dumpster Gate," in which cowardly Nicholas shoots himself in the head, falls on Glenn and pushes him into a mob of hungry walkers, and gets subsequently eviscerated. The show made it look like Nicholas' death was actually Glenn's death, a transparent fake-me-out twist that most fans loathed. At least Glenn survived the experience, if only for a little bit longer.
Somehow, Glenn survived six seasons of the show without ever once claiming another human life. That reign of innocence ended when Glenn joined Rick and the team's quest to kill Negan's Saviors. Glenn finally killed another man, stabbing his first murder victim in the brain as he slept. Ironically, it's during this very attack that Glenn sees photographs showing Negan and Lucille's handiwork, an unknowing glimpse into Glenn's own future.
Finally, the moment of truth. The Walking Dead ended season six on the cliffhanger of who would die at Negan's hands, but comic book readers already knew the answer — or, at least, the comic's version of the answer. Glenn's death in The Walking Dead #100 galvanizes everything moving forward in the story, marking the end of a certain level of innocence and ushering in a new wave of darkness. Ultimately, the show aligned with the comic, as much as some fans hoped otherwise. While it's hard to find upside in losing a season one veteran like actor Steven Yeun, there's hope that Glenn in death will still represent what he stood for in life: a beacon of light in a bleak world, however far it flickers in the distance.
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