Every Walking Dead viewer’s ears perked up when they heard that distraught voice coming through Daryl’s walkie talkie: “Help.” Weeks after his dramatic death, the internet immediately concluded it was Glenn. It wasn’t, according to Norman Reedus in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. But whether or not it was him, the real question is why anyone continues to deny it.
The ambitious, surprising decision by The Walking Dead to stretch out the first half of the season by taking place on the same day has produced equally fun and frustrating viewing experiences. On one hand, dividing the ensemble cast into clusters have allowed them to flesh out characters, due to the luxury of having entire episodes for themselves (Morgan got the king’s treatment, a hefty 90 minute episode all for him).
On the flip side, people still won’t shut the fuck up about Glenn. I’m less concerned about Glenn’s health than I am the emotional health of The Walking Dead viewers, who remain steadfast the Season 1 veteran is alive even though, as I’ve said before, his death was a good plot choice.
This week dwelled on Abraham, Sasha, and Daryl’s perspective of the botched plan to empty the zombie quarry. Unlike previous episodes of this season, like “JSS,” “Here’s Not Here,” or last week’s “Now,” this week’s “Always Accountable” was maddeningly average. Here’s the gist: Abraham has a new lease on life, wants to bang Sasha, and Daryl — arguably the sharpest, most clever survivor of whole show — was tricked out of his crossbow.
By the end, Daryl finds a conveniently placed oil tanker to reunite with Sasha and Abraham. The show ends with someone’s weak, shaken voice barely calling out “help” cackling through. Of course the internet immediately went “GLENN?”
Why are Dead fans so stubborn about Glenn surviving? The easy answer is because people loved Glenn, but a lot of other beloved TV characters have eaten dirt and never had the same kind of speculation fervor.
The other infamous TV death of the year happened on Game of Thrones, when (spoiler?) Jon Snow was stabbed to death (?) by his Night’s Watch brethren. Shocking as it was, there wasn’t nearly the feverish denial that Walking Dead fans have had about Glenn Rhee. Sure, there is the steady traffic of #HairWatch which stalks the paparazzi who stalk the stars to find out what in tarnations Kit Harrington is doing on set in Stark armor when he should be touring Comic-Con or getting a haircut. And despite being the prettiest pretty boy of Westeros, his death prompted more questions about “What’s next?” than it did the stages of grief. For Glenn, it’s been an onslaught of denial with bated breath.
Besides the ambiguity of their deaths (and admittedly, The Walking Dead has been obnoxiously vague), the questioning possibly stems from Glenn himself. A shared ethos that dominates Westeros and post-zombie Georgia is that compassion gets you killed. It took Rick years of fighting a mad Governor, cannibals, and failing to shepherd a prison to finally get it. Though he’s barely hanging on, Rick is still alive today. Jon Snow and Glenn were two of the nicest, most merciful men of their lands — but Snow was an idiot. He was a terrible communicator who should have explained the White Walker threat better, and letting himself love Ygritte would of course lead him to lose the loyalty of his men.
Snow had it coming. He deserved it. Glenn (kind of) didn’t.
True, Glenn broke the rules. He showed mercy to Nicholas, a man who tried to kill him, twice, and it came back like a boomerang when he chickened out and let Glenn become zombie chow. His mercy is just as unforgivable as Snow’s.
But consider the circumstances of their ends: Snow was killed by his soldiers. Glenn was collateral damage. It was Nicholas who fired into his brain, only wanting himself to die. One was murder, a punishment doled out by those who know the rules. The other was an accident, a consequence of another’s dumb actions that could have been avoided.
There’s a lot of remorse for Glenn, a lot pointing out that he “didn’t deserve it.”
For Jon Snow, the Man Who Knows (Knew?) Nothing, viewers felt the opposite.
Jon Snow didn’t “know nothing.” He was just an idiot.