That last episode of The Walking Dead is the gift that keeps on giving, although it’s more like a stocking full of informational coal than a bow-topped package. Fans have been pretty beside themselves over the past couple of days, wondering whether Glenn is actually dead or if the creative team is pulling the gore-soaked wool over everyone’s eyes. But beyond Nicholas and the handful of generic Alexandrians that bit the dust, there was indeed one more fatality in the episode: the death of Glenn’s kindness and humanity. According to executive producer Dave Alpert:
There's an emotional arc that is coming to a close definitively in this scene. From our perspective, Glenn has always been the good angel on Rick's shoulder. He's always been the guy who gives everybody the second chance. He's always been the guy that goes ‘Hey, let's be human here,’ as opposed to Shane (Jon Bernthal) or whoever else was on Rick's other shoulder. That guy, the good angel, is now gone. Regardless of what happened and whether Glenn is alive or dead, that Glenn is dead.
Now, if you’re like me, you’re thinking, ‘Well if he’s dead, then of course he lost his good-naturedness, because he will have lost every aspect of his personality.’ But Alpert obviously wouldn’t bring this part of it up unless it was to be addressed on the show in some way, right?. And so it assumedly means that Glenn is alive at least long enough to make it clear that he feels everything and everyone is damned and not worthy of his hopeful nature. I like to think he’ll pull out a small index card and start writing some angry thoughts, telling Rick to just let go and do whatever he wants.
Considering everyone on the creative team is saying that Glenn will return to the show in some form, him being dead would mean that form would be in a flashback or a hallucination of some kind, presumably by Rick, who will probably torture himself over not being there to save Glenn. (Hopefully no telephones are involved with this one.) But Glenn wouldn’t be a hopeless sap in the flashbacks, and Rick would have no way of knowing that Glenn lost his moral way before dying, so I’m not sure how audiences would witness the absence of Glenn’s humanity in either of those ways. So I’d think he has to be alive in order to get his new point-of-view across.
Alpert goes on to tell TV Insider that Nicholas’ suicidal actions that put Glenn in harm’s way are what cause Glenn to flip that mental switch, and the fact that there were a bunch of different ways for Nicholas to bow out is weighing on Glenn’s kindness. It seemed clear that Nicholas would be a thorn in Glenn’s paw ever since they brawled last season. And while it’s infuriating that such a cherished character would be undone by such a spineless dipshit, I guess that’s how the world works sometimes.
It’ll probably still be a small while before we get to see what exactly happened to Glenn, as next week’s episode of The Walking Dead is a 90-minute episode centered on Morgan. But we’ll be waiting patiently.