‘The Walking Dead’ Reveals Glenn’s Fate

walking dead recap 607 melissa mcbride
Courtesy of AMC

Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen “The Walking Dead” episode 607, titled “Heads Up.”

You probably had one of two reactions to the opening minutes of “The Walking Dead” this week: either Glenn’s miraculous (and, let’s face it, completely unrealistic) survival filled you with relief, euphoria and satisfaction, because one of your favorite characters made it through another seemingly untenable situation unscathed when the show is ordinarily pretty trigger-happy, or said beloved character’s unlikely return filled you with frustration and resentment, because of the ridiculous narrative contortions the show had to go through in order to explain Glenn’s escape. Count me in the latter camp — and not because I have any lack of affection for Glenn, who has been a consistently compelling character, and a vital moral center for the show.

Fans have been climbing under dumpsters for weeks to prove it’s possible, but I have a harder time accepting the simple physics of Nicholas falling across Glenn at the perfect angle to stop him from being bitten or at least scratched by the dozens of walkers surrounding him on all sides. It’s pure, self-indulgent silliness, which the show, for all its foibles, is not usually guilty of — and that disappoints me more than the producers’ reluctance to kill one of the last surviving original cast members.

I’m having a hard time seeing the narrative benefit of keeping Glenn alive after faking his death. Contrary to what producer David Alpert told us following episode 603 (“I feel like, regardless of what happened to Glenn, he paid a tremendous price for having been human to Nicholas, and that, to me, from an emotional point-of-view — whether or not Glenn is alive or dead or something else — the Glenn that we knew, the one that believed in the better side of humanity, I think is dead”), nothing about how he behaved in “Heads Up” gave me any indication that he’s any less hopeful, any less inherently good than he always has been. There’s little character growth to be gained from yet another near-death experience after five seasons of constant near-death experiences, and because he has a baby on the way, Glenn arguably has even more reason to believe in humanity’s better angels than before.

So what was the point? Why remove his name from the credits, why even make it a mystery? Theoretically, I’m not opposed to shows manipulating their audience, as long as the producers are willing to acknowledge that they’re manipulating us — because there was no real justification for this mystery beyond toying with the audience. After six seasons, they’re certainly within their rights to misdirect viewers, but the choice will make me less willing to buy into the relative reality of the show in future, now that the producers have proven willing to stretch credulity to suit their cliffhangers.

Or, as Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall succinctly put it, “They’ve put Glenn — who, remember, already survived seemingly overwhelming odds (albeit not this overwhelming) last season, also in circumstances involving Nicholas — in a position where there is no plausible way for him to survive, entirely to generate false suspense and false angst among the many viewers who care about Glenn.” As the Wall Street Journal‘s Paul Vigna pointed out, “That isn’t just a cliffhanger. It’s a logic destroyer.”

And that’s unfortunate, especially because “Heads Up” was an otherwise solid episode after last week’s detour through the woods, during which Daryl encountered The Saviors, but not a lot else of note happened.

Enid remains another whiny cable teenager who is too sullen to drum up much audience sympathy (and we’re still mad about that tortoise), Spencer is still too dumb to live (trying to climb over the walkers, seriously?), and Carl was being so condescending during Rick’s shooting lesson with Ron that it’s no wonder Ron wanted to kill him — but Enid’s interactions with Glenn at least offered a contrasting perspective on how people deal with loss. After losing so much — and seeing his wife lose even more — Glenn has every reason to be bitter, resentful and closed off, and yet that unassailable optimism still shines through, even when the odds seem impossibly stacked against him. While I’m displeased by the way Glenn survived, I’m certainly not unhappy that he’s sticking around, which is pretty much the only compensation for an otherwise needlessly frustrating story arc.

The episode also — finally — gave Rosita a chance to say more than two lines, and it was refreshing to see her put Eugene in his place and point out that dying is easy — since I’m counting the minutes until he, Spencer and Father Gabriel become walker chow. Tara, too, got to steal a scene after rushing to save Spencer (much to Rick’s disgust), since she hilariously got to flip our fearless leader the bird. It’s also a nice change of pace to see the rest of the group speaking their minds and reminding Rick that he’s the only one (aside from Carol) who still sees their living arrangements in Alexandria as an “us vs. them” situation. As much as Rick is fighting to maintain his distance to protect his own, everyone in his group aside from Carl was a stranger once, and it seems short-sighted to try and keep any potential allies at arm’s length, especially now that he’s finally won their trust.

But the real standout moments of the episode — besides that heart-stopping final scene, with Glenn and Enid’s hopeful balloon signal juxtaposed against the devastating sight of the watchtower falling to destroy the fence — came courtesy of Morgan and Carol, who continue to test each other’s boundaries through a delicate dance of mutual suspicion. Morgan’s sit-down with Rick, Michonne and Carol was eerily reminiscent of a kid being called into the principal’s office, but the interaction also provided a nice touchstone for where everyone’s boundaries currently lie. Michonne seemed the most sympathetic to Morgan’s dilemma, as we’ve been seeing her steadily acclimating to life in Alexandria and trying to be a little slower to reach for her katana, but she was also as practical as she’s ever been, sensing (as we all have) that something’s got to give between Morgan’s pacifist ideology and the limitations of the world they now inhabit. Morgan’s tentative attempts to find an ally in Denise were also strangely sweet, but now that Carol knows he’s hiding something in the cell, Morgan’s probably pretty lucky that a whole mess of walkers are about to spill into Alexandria to serve as a distraction from the wolf in the basement.

I just feel sorry for Deanna, who bounced back from her devastation over Reg just in time to see her hopes for Alexandria dashed by the collapse of the fence. There may well be “an after” on the horizon, but it certainly won’t be as idyllic (or well-labeled) as her plans. It’s safe to say we’d better prepare for bloodshed in next week’s midseason finale.

“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Are you disappointed by Glenn’s survival, or are you just happy to see him survive? Weigh in below!

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  1. Connie Reeves says:

    Love the show and hate for the ones that started in the beginning to get killed. They’ve fought a long hard battle and hope they ALL keep fighting!

  2. Tim says:

    Glenn surviving under a corpse is not silly at all. You should know from watching the show that if your covered with the walking dead blood the others can’t “smell” you so it makes sense that they would’ve left Glen alone.

  3. Daryl Glenn says:

    ***********LEAKED***************

    The Cameraman Got Hit With The Bat No Main Character Got Killed.

    • Jimmy Lee says:

      From now on, I will follow up your articles related with entertainment in global affairs.
      Pls look forward to my critical but moderate comments.Jimmy Lee

  4. Aby says:

    Am happy to see Glenn alive, to me the best way of taking someone from the show is by telling us that they are leaving the group, its sad to see people die or killed. I love Rick’s group and it hurts me to see they die.

  5. Mason says:

    I stopped watching the show when Glenn fell off the dumpster. I figured there must be a money disagreement with the producers over Yuen’s contract. It looks to me like this story arc was a cynical way for the producers to first gauge fan reaction if he were to die off before settling a dispute over pay.

  6. Ryan Stike says:

    Pure BS plain and simple. Too many characters in similar situations have been lunch, good thing he put on his anti-walker deoderant. I’m not anti-Glenn, it could have been any character, but there is no way in hell I will ever buy that he would have lived. It’s absolutely absurd, and I am stunned that they would even go that way. Regardless of whether or not he could fit under the dumpster, there were walkers EVERYWHERE!!! You’re trying to tell me they would have waited while he was screaming and moving around to attack until he was safely all the way underneath?

    I call… BS!!!!

    I am done. Fool me once, shame on you… Fool me twice….

  7. J.J says:

    Thank you for this article. I was hoping he survived and now I can continue to watch the series.

  8. K.G. says:

    I’m glad he survived, it’s possible to live if you have a strong will. I started to cry as I did last season. But somehow I hoped he’d survive

  9. Jamie Mikkelson says:

    It’s good to see him survive. Yeah it may not be logical the way it supposedly happened, but he’s a part of the show that most of us are willing to over look the “silliness” for. But then the show is based on imagination, not facts. So if it gets silly from time to time, so be it. It’s still watch worthy in my book.

  10. Panko1 says:

    It was plain simple, Nicholas body was above covering Glenn. So Nicholas got eaten first. But you all would prefer to see Nicholas and Glenn to be devoured in one bite. That would be worst than just jumping the shark, that would be literately turning slow eating zombies into real sharks with big mouths and fast legs, which you all would love to see.

    But thankfully some people saw things more clearly and predicted what have happened which proves how simple it was. While Nicholas was temporally feeding those zombies, Glenn could hide below the dumpster which is tight enough for any zombie to reach him. The zombies would try to get to Glenn only after finishing Nicholas, and that would be enough time for Glenn to hide.

    And remember this is not the first time somebody gets eaten to save Glenn. Noah was also devoured to give time for Glenn to escape.

  11. TWD_Fan says:

    Kill Glenn, let Glenn live. Either or, I’m fine with. I like Glenn. But show Glenn under a pile of zombies and cut out and not acknowledge him for 4 episodes, only to show him survive by some Dues Ex Machina, and I’m pretty disappointed. It was cheap, and this show is better than that. I believe this is the proverbial “Jumping the Shark” moment.

  12. sue says:

    Im happy Glen is alive and I dont watch this Zombie show for realism how realistic are zombies? I am a nurse so I know that everything would be decayed and f alling apart si i enjoy fantasy fear and Glen escaping. Fans called critics annoyed

  13. poppedculturemedia by Doug Quintal says:

    The choice To keep Glenn alive makes you less willing to buy into the relative reality of the show in future. That fact that you’re buying into the relative reality of a show based on the zombie apocalypse, which is based on a comic book, speaks volumes to your critical reviewing ability. Get over it and yourself.

    • Adam says:

      Then what’s the point of telling any story at all if you can just make a jumbled mess of half ideas and illogical situations? The logic hoops that you have to jump through to be okay with this level of sloppy writing is incredible in that so many people are willing to accept it simply because they love Glenn. It was stupid, insulting and completely unnecessary, and the fact that you’re totally willing to buy into it, and then insult someone else for pointing out its stupidity, only goes to show how low your bar is actually set. Based on your logic, no rules should ever apply simply because the show has zombies in it, and therefore Glenn could have simply spouted wings and flew off the dumpster. You’re the one who needs to get over yourself, and buy a clue in the process.

  14. Karli says:

    I cried when Glenn “died” and went into shock; the no-one-talk-to-me-please-I’m-angry kind of shock. So, naturally, I was filled with euphoria and happily gazed at him for the rest of this episode. BUT, now I’m worried that he survived only to be killed as soon as he’s reunited with Maggie. Or, worse….they see each other but he dies before he can reach her?! Normally I don’t worry whether someone will die on TWD. There’s not a lot of build up, someone dies, it’s awful, it’s clear cut, and we all move on. Now my emotions have been toyed with!

    However, there’s no complaining from me, and I don’t think anyone else should be. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. It’s pretty simple! Let me know if you find something else out there that comes even close to this show. Good luck with that.

  15. Craig says:

    I hate Gimble & the others of the show, that have been treating the audience like puppets, & squeezing every cent they can make out of the show!

  16. Rex says:

    We’re getting all irate talking about “logic” within a zombie apocalypse. Doesn’t sound logical to me. Relax and enjoy the show.

    • DaveC310 says:

      I get your point… but with any show (whether it’s super heroes or zombies or aliens) you have to set up the rules for that particular world and then stick to those rules. If it’s a compelling story, the audience will go along with zombies (or other supernatural beings) and not question the logic. The problem comes when the rules they’ve set up are thrown out the window momentarily. We’ve seen how walkers behave through six seasons of the show. They would have torn Glenn apart. The guy fell sideways onto his chest, only covering Glenn’s mid section. His head and lower body were totally exposed to dozens of hungry zombies. From what we know about the walkers, there’s no way he could have come out of that bite free. (Necks, faces and legs seem to be a favorite spot to munch on. Yet they didn’t touch Glenn.) The writers tweaked the rules a little bit.

      That being said, I’m glad Glenn lived and I’m not losing any sleep over the lapse in logic. It’s still a great show. For the most part they do a good job at living within the rules they’ve set up.

      Here’s something I’ve been thinking about. If covering yourself in zombie guts works so well as a camouflage technique, why not carry a back pack full of walker guts every time you go out into the world? If you get yourself into a sticky situation, you open the back pack and cover yourself in zombie goo then calmly walk away. For as good as that works, they don’t use it very often. Probably because it would get boring real quick. Swinging a sword at their heads is way more exciting.

  17. Saltypito says:

    All the weight of the life and death situations the characters are put in has been lifted with the rediculuose writing which pulled Glenn unscathed under a dumpster and Spencer falling 15 ft onto 100 zombies and not even a scratch. I am so disappointed. They may as well have just had Glen wake up in bed after having a nightmare of falling off a dumpster and getting eaten by zombies.

  18. Ashlyn Rose says:

    Although I went into shock when Glen, the one bright lite in an otherwise miserable world, was killed I suspected something as every other major character killed on TWD did an exit interview on TD. Glenn did not. That was my only clue he was alive but I couldn’t figure out how he survived. While I am dancing with joy he survived, the writers should hang their heads in shame. The grim reality of the series has been KO’d.

  19. Andy says:

    So apparently being attacked by a horde of zombies on TWD is about as dangerous as being attacked by a horde of fluffy teddy bears… Shame on you walking dead…

  20. Hank Saiia says:

    In terms of removing Steven Yeun from the credits and leaving his fate open, I think Scott Gimple did a good job of explaining the rationale on Talking Dead. In the show, any time a character leaves the relative (up to now) safety of Alexandria, there is the possibility they won’t come back. For the characters left behind, that sense of dread would be a very real, very paralyzing thing at times. Remember, Maggie went for a long time not knowing the fate of her sister, and was separated from Glenn for much of last season.

    Creating an uncertainty around Glen’s fate gave fans the most realistic sense in a televised program of that sense of dread, that sense that we might never know what ever happened to Glenn. Let’s face it, it created the most water cooler talk since Beth’s death.

    I understand the frustration over the huge suspension of disbelief needed to accept his survival method. But overall I really like what they did with this story arc.

  21. John says:

    My problem with Glenn’s survival is more fundamental to what set the show apart from other apocalyptic shows. Characters you come to know and love die, No other show took that risk, I just hope the creators aren’t resorting to gimmicks because of a shortage of interesting plot lines. I worry and hope this is not a sign of things to come.

  22. Jason K says:

    Just take it as fun. It was fun wondering if he was dead or not and how he could get out of that mess. It’s entertainment, not some documentary that has to follow a specific history.

  23. Xi Hu says:

    Glenn’s true death will be sweet. It is coming.

  24. People are griping about something being unrealistic in a show about zombies. It’s a show about zombies for crying out loud. No one boo-hoos about the blood splattering in people’s eyes and mouths yet not infecting them – far more unrealistic than Glenn possible crawling under the dumpster without being bit.

  25. Wildflower says:

    Glad he is alive…not prepared yet to be otherwise…
    Felt this was true to begin with, since his character
    (remember season 1 with he & Rick in the tank)…
    has always been the “runner” for supplies, in the group, because of his ability to get in & out of towns w/walkers everywhere…and still get back w/everything he went for.

  26. Sml says:

    Glenn should be dead. In fact, I am now rooting for Glenn to get smashed!!!!! It was very weak storytelling and it makes the entire show look very weak. Very dissappointing!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Fucas says:

      Glenn will die. He dies in the comics and he will die on the show. The producers just want to use his death to help develop the story. If he died because of Nicholas, what would the show gain with that. It’s the same with that black kid that Nicholas killed.

  27. Feslen Raster says:

    A thought just struck me, could the voice in the walkie-talkie possibly belong to Morales from season one? I know I know, off the topic.

    Yeah, Glenn surviving is a bit underhanded and terrible writing, but it kept us talking, didn’t? He is one of my favorite characters on the show, other than Carol and Maggie. I like his character ‘evolution’ from bad ass leader to moralistic still bad-ass surviving leader. In a world where people like Rick, Morgan can go from sanity to insanity within a moments notice, you need a Glenn/Herschel/Dale.

    Tara flipping Rick off was one the best moments of the show (all series). I think Andrew Lincoln attempted to hold of a true laugh/grin at that moment as well.

    I do believe Carl will get his eye shot out by Ron, who will be in turn devoured by Walkers. I am relishing the moment Ron gets killed, he and his father were both awful characters.

    I doubt we see Glenn get killed by Negan, but the candidates are: Abraham, Morgan, Glenn and Daryl(unlikely here).

  28. david white says:

    But The week before AMC showed an ad for”the walking dead’ where the screen was split into 4 segments with scenes from the previous episode in each frame. In the top right square, it showed GLenn getting out from under the dumpster on the opposite side from where he had been lying. The same scene from last night’s episode. So i knew last week that he was alive.

  29. Chad Keates says:

    I don’t understand the word ‘unrealistic’ in the context of walking dead. Its a post-apocalyptic world where decaying corpses and most times half-complete corpses with non-functioning digestive systems seek flesh at every turn. This makes no sense, especially biologically and you seek to explain Glenns miraculous survival as ‘unrealistic’. i’m sorry, it just doesn’t add up, if you aim at looking at this show as a representation of reality you really have strayed off the beaten path.

    • TWD_Fan says:

      If you saw Rick fly though the air like Superman, would you just say, “well, it’s a show about zombies, I guess Rick can fly too.”

      Even by crawling under the dumpster, he was trapped and for all intense and purpose, he should have died. Had the Due Ex Machina not rolled a can behind the zombies leading them away. Cheap writing.

  30. Darryl says:

    Any true fans of walking dead sick of this show being written for people that have never even read an issue of the comic book

    • Nick Peril says:

      Or it’s a little tiresome for fans of a work’s source material to declare themselves it’s “true fans”, as if entertainment should only be geared toward this group alone. You don’t own the material, & if a work’s wider appeal once it gets adapted for movies or TV is making you “sick of this show”, then you can either not watch or let go of your presumptions it should only present itself the way you want it to be.

  31. Steve Marsh says:

    Really dude??? Can’t you just be happy for Glenn without having to critically remark on every facet of the show. You people kill me. Get a life!

  32. Gladys says:

    I’m very happy and excited that Glen made it he’s survive because I was feeling sad and very upset the way he was almost cast off. Lol Glen!!

  33. potato says:

    are you triggered?

  34. Sure, Glenn’s survival is pretty unrealistic….but after all, this IS a show about a completely unrealistic zombie apocalypse. I was pumped to see Glenn alive, to be honest! The more articles I read, the more I realize that people are taking this WAY too seriously. It kind of takes all the fun out of it, ya know?

    That said, I really enjoy your articles!

  35. Lucille says:

    The narrative benefit is tremendous! For those that haven’t read the comics, Glenn’s close brush with death in this season is an emotional rollercoaster that is setting up his eventual demise likely at the season finale.

  36. Andy says:

    None of the big deaths have been the same as in the comics (Shane, Lori, Dale, Tyreese, Hershel, The Governor, etc.). Glenn’s will not be the same either. Problem is the show has zero credibility now. It is not a top tier drama like Game of Thrones, it is just a farce with 6 unkillables (Rick, Carl, Glenn, Carol, Daryl and Michonne), and a bunch of ST “red shirts”. Kill them off. Add more in. Rinse. Repeat. Boring. Too bad. The potential for an all-time classic show was there. The comics are a masterpiece. The TV show blew it big time. Can’t wait for issue 149 in the REAL Walking Dead.

  37. Ruben says:

    Dude you just imply that a show filled with the walking dead has any amount of realism to it?

  38. Mary says:

    Love Glen ♥

  39. Rhonda says:

    I think the producers used the delay/suspense method with Glenn in order to test the viewer waters. This is, after all, a fiction story and the writer of same can alienate an audience if the character treatment becomes too thoughtless. There are only Carol, Carl, Rick, Daryl and Glenn left of the season one original group, all loved and cherished by viewers, the death of any one of these characters at this point may cause viewer loss. I think this story arc was probably written with two possible endings, which one would be used would depend on viewer response to the possibility of Glenn’s death. Obviously, no one was taking this character’s death well. I know I am at the point with this show where if everyone dies and there is no sense of hope in the struggle, I’m out. If that is indeed the case I can just watch the news instead where mindless violence and lack of hope or humanity always rule the day.

  40. I’m very happy Glenn is alive but very irritated by the sloppy manipulation of the arc. Unless this changes Glenn in a way we don’t expect it was (IMO) just a cheap stunt to worry viewers.

  41. ___ says:

    Well I’ve never heard of the word “Bitch” being used to describe a baby before but that’s what Maggie called Judith when she said that she’s starting to look like Lori.

    • Matt says:

      LOL and the look on Rick’s face said the rest – yeah she looks like Lori and not me…. wonder why. Oh yeah, she’s not mine.

      • LaCattiva says:

        Now, that’s BS. Of course we all think that Judith is Shane’s daughter. But her looking like her mother and not like her (possible) father doesn’t mean she is not his.

  42. Cloud says:

    I was very glad Glenn was alive, but after they left us hanging for weeks it wasn’t as emotional as it could have been. I also wish that they would have showed his fate at the very end of the episode, just feel like that would have made more of an impact. One thing is for sure though, they better not kill him off now or people will be really ticked.

    • David says:

      Given the reaction from fans when they thought Glenn had died, I doubt the producers will kill his character off anytime soon. The show has not followed the comic book religiously, so Glenn might not fall to Neegan.

  43. Roc says:

    What a perfectly written article. Hit every nail on the head. I love the Carol and Morgan’s testy tango sentence.

  44. Mike says:

    I knew he was alive as they just cast the character who ultimately kills Glenn in the graphic novels. But then again Neegan could always bash someone else with the baseball bat.

  45. Jheymill says:

    Shouldn’t be too glad he’s alive . Negan just got cast 😂😂

  46. MediaMan23 says:

    Surprised at how invested I was in Glenn’s fate. We broke out in applause when it became clear he was safe. A reminder me how compelling scripted drama can be.

  47. Love that he survived…it’s a show based on a graphic novel, it’s ok to be “unrealistic” at times.
    That’s Hollywood!

    • Lainey says:

      He is dead in the graphic novels though. It doesn’t need to be realistic, but there is a point where suspension of disbelief is pierced – happiness at his survival is dimmed when you enter in a rather ridiculous method to achieve that end.

    • MediaMan23 says:

      Perfectly stated!

      • TikiJJ says:

        Yes, because unrealistically surviving the zombies or other threats never happened on The Walking Dead…

  48. Mark says:

    Glad he made it.

  49. Peter says:

    I was actually happy when Glenn died. His character used to be fine, but he’s become annoying over time in my opinion. Trying to transition his character to a not very believable “i’m a hardened badass” just didn’t work for me along with other annoying character traits. Aside from miraculously crawling under a dumpster while a full grown mans dead body was on top of him. And with tons of walkers around, all distracted by one corpse which makes it questionable how groups of walkers could ever have wiped out civilization to begin with. Why couldn’t they get under there if Glenn could? Are dumpsters the ultimate anti-zombie shelter? Could civilization have survived if everyone just hid under cars? Hiding under things works in the walking dead if they don’t know you are there, not because they can’t bend over and crawl. I agree with all the points Laura makes in the article (except for liking Glenn!). In my mind his character is dead, and i dvr’d it and skipped all the scenes he was in afterwards. Seeya Glenn.

  50. David says:

    I am happy Glen is alive. and it does nothing to take away from the show. Plenty of cast members have died, and more will die in the future, probably next episode, I don’t need characters killed off just to prove the writers can do it. This was a great episode, and I am glad the writers had the guts to keep Glen alive.

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