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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode 607, “Heads Up,” of AMC’s The Walking Dead as well as the comic book series on which it is based.]
The Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple and star Steven Yeun took to AMC’s companion series Talking Dead to address the resolution to Glenn’s fate Sunday.
During the seventh episode of season six, fan favorite Glenn (Yeun) was revealed to have survived the impossible. The hour’s cold open brought viewers right back to the now-infamous “dumpster scene” in which Nicholas (Michael Traynor) shot himself in the head after mumbling “thank you” to Glenn.
As many astute viewers theorized, it was Nicholas’ body that landed squarely on top of Glenn. As walkers devoured Nicholas’ body, Glenn craftily scooted underneath the nearby dumpster and watched as the undead savaged his former companion. (Watch the scene, below, and read THR‘s analysis of the hour here.)
“I feel relieved. I feel very grateful. I feel so amazed at the response,” Yeun said. “I feel bad that I couldn’t say anything to everyone and to the family and friends I’m pretty sure I lost along the way. It’s been overwhelming. I didn’t know how to take it all.”
Yeun, who revealed that he is claustrophobic and spent about seven hours under the dumpster filming the scene, noted that Glenn’s survival stands for something.
“I think it proves that this world still can take that story of the good guy winning sometimes,” he said. “I really like the fact that it’s not this bent of always seeking out something miserable happening on television or something terrible and sulking on that and rather just really accepting the fact that sometimes good guys survive.”
That Glenn would survive by crawling under the dumpster was the leading theory many had about how the character could possibly make it out of such a seemingly hopeless scenario. Fans went so far as to crawl under dumpsters to illustrate such a move was possible.
“The story we were telling was one of uncertainty,” Gimple noted of Glenn’s arc thus far. “When people leave the walls, in this case Alexandria, they don’t have cell phones. They aren’t rocking ‘80s beepers. You don’t know what happens. You have no idea. When they leave, that could be the last time you ever see them. It was important to do a story this year about uncertainty and that the audience would share that uncertainty that the characters had, like in episode five: Maggie (Lauren Cohan) didn’t know what happened to Glenn, and I wanted the audience to be exactly where she was and to feel the exact same way.”
Glenn’s survival comes after many critics took issue with the series potentially faking Glenn’s death a la Game of Thrones and Jon Snow. THR chief TV critic Tim Goodman wrote that it “would be total bullshit” if Glenn were able to survive this particular encounter.
The Talking Dead also included a nod to Glenn’s fate in the comic book series on which the show is based. Following the “In Memoriam” segment, the series featured an “Un Memoriam” dedicated to the former pizza delivery boy that read, “Glenn, we’re so happy you’re alive!” That was set to “Hallelujah” and ended with a “For now,” as the music dimmed. (Spoiler alert from the comics.) The “for now” may be a nod to the upcoming season six finale, when dastardly villain Negan — the recently cast Jeffrey Dean Morgan — is rumored to make his debut. In the comics, Glenn is killed when Rick’s group first crosses paths with Negan. Much of the fan outrage to Glenn’s uncertain fate came from diehard fans upset that the AMC drama could potentially remix (or avoid) Negan’s memorable debut in issue 100. After nearly 150 issues, Glenn’s death at the hands of Negan stands as the biggest moment in the comic book series to date.
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