Warning: massive spoilers ahead for the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead has mastered the art of the cliffhanger that’s painful but great, and Season 6 has been full of them. The biggest, however, came when Glenn was seemingly devoured by zombies after his companion shot himself in the head and sent them both tumbling off of a dumpster into a horde. Despite the dire circumstances, many fans were not convinced that we’d really seen the end of Glenn. The latest episode finally answered the question after three episodes of nothing: Glenn is indeed alive. Walking Dead showrunner Scott Gimple has a mostly reasonable explanation for the wait.
In an appearance on AMC’s post-episode talk show Talking Dead, Gimple had this to say about the delay in giving answers about Glenn:
When people leave the walls, 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, and I think 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 5. Maggie didn’t know what happened to Glenn, and I wanted the audience to be exactly where she was, to feel the exact same way.
The best part of his plan to nudge viewers into feeling exactly the same way as Maggie was how he got the entire audience to realize that we too were pregnant at the perfect time to really feel the loss of Glenn... Okay, maybe not, but there’s no denying that The Walking Dead has milked Glenn’s fate for all that it is worth.
After all, the characters may not have cell phones or beepers, but they do have walkie talkies. Fans wouldn’t have had nearly as much reason to believe that Glenn really could have survived if Talking Dead had not coyly hinted that he may not have been quite as devoured-in-complete-agony as it had appeared on screen. Glenn never appeared on the talk show’s “In Memoriam” listing of the dead, and Steven Yeun did not make the traditional guest appearance for actors whose characters have been killed off.
In fact, AMC has been milking Glenn’s fate so much that some fans were beginning to actually hope that he was dead. After all, he was last seen being covered in tasty zombie seasonings, aka blood and gore, whilst surrounded on all sides by zombies. We probably never would have even wondered if a character could have survived had that character not been one of the few who has been around since the very first season (and had all that Talking Dead stuff not happened).
Last week’s miniature cliffhanger saw Daryl get hailed on a walkie talkie by a strangled voice calling for help. It was another crumb for fans still hoping for Glenn’s survival, but Norman Reedus debunked the theory quickly and the wondering began all over again. Scott Gimple and the rest of the Walking Dead crew waited so very long to give away Glenn’s survival that the series began to feel a bit overly commercial. It can also be no coincidence that the big hook aired just before a bottle episode following the adventures of Morgan.
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. New episodes of The Talking Dead follow the original drama.