Glenn is alive. That would be great news if Glenn was a real person, but he isn’t, so it’s bad news because The Walking Dead is a real TV show — one that feels worse for the resurrection. Is America’s favorite undead epic now less of a story and more of one thing after another thing? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be “[yep]((https://www.inverse.com/article/7422-the-walking-dead-s-glenn-rhee-died-for-good-television).”

After spending the last few weeks dancing around the definitive answer regarding Glenn Rhee’s well-being, “Heads Up” wasted no time: In a rare moment that proved fan speculation correct, if not worthwhile, it was revealed that Nicholas’ body was a shield for Glenn, allowing him to crawl under a dumpster and avoid infection/consumption.

The problem here is that Glenn’s death meant something and his survival doesn’t. On Talking Dead, producer Scott Gimple and actor Steven Yeun boasted that the casualty was a reminder that “anything could happen” on the show. Well, apparently not.

Once again: Glenn’s original “death” proved that compassion in a walker-infested world gets you killed. There is no longer any room for hope and altruism — only survival. That’s some heavy shit. Losing Glenn was to mark a new status quo for everyone in Alexandria. Now it’s just a thing — and the next thing will just be a thing too. That’s the problem with subverting the expectation of realism.

The Walking Dead has, over the last few years, been spoken about in the same breath as serial genre soaps like Lost — and that should not be a compliment. Shows like Lost value questions and suspense over story and world building. For The Walking Dead to tease the death of everyone’s “favorite Asian” (the hell is that supposed to mean?) then not following through makes the show look week. Next time it tries to shake down its fans, they’ll presumably just tell it to go fuck itself. It’s no longer the baddest guy on the block.

The whole Glenn saga was clearly designed to mess with the audience. And there will be an audience regardless — the show is massively popular and people are massively invested. What’s clear is that The Walking Dead no longer has to treat its viewers with respect. Whether it will or won’t is now unclear.

Photos via AMC Networks