Well … damn.

I mentioned last week my hopes that The Walking Dead Season 6 might settle into itself a bit more in the aftermath of Alexandria’s attack and the ongoing herd, give characters peace of mind enough to regroup, but impressively, the writers refuse to let up. The fact that we’ve made it three episodes into the season, lost a major character, and ended “Thank You” on another fairly dire strait, with who-knows how much longer to go before the herd can be managed for good, is … well, completely insane.

Wildly ambitious, and I admire the hell out of it, but insane nonetheless.

Obviously, there’s a lot to unpack with Glenn’s death, especially among the cross-section of Game of Thrones fans that refuse to believe any character ever could meet their maker for good. I myself kept scanning the screen to see if perhaps Nicholas had landed on top of Glenn, giving only the illusion of the latter’s organs torn out by the walker mass. It’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility that Glenn could still have managed to scurry away, but Michael Slovis’ framing of that alley seemed to communicate early on how hopelessly dire their entrapment was.

There’s also the matter of Glenn’s death from the books, which I’ll avoid spoiling for the moment, though its reputation among the more memorable ends may have steered producers into keeping viewers on their toes. Either way, it’s an all-around interesting, and bold choice to kill off such a major character under unremarkable circumstances, without any real meaning, or even witnesses to the end, and only three episodes into the season*. The premiere played around with time and flashback, while the second opted for another experiment in real-time, and tonight took a drastically different direction to keep us guessing, arguably one of the biggest deaths of the entire series.

*Comparably, Lori’s death arrived four episodes into Season 3, and similarly ahead of her scheduled comic fate, though that end wrought much more immediate consequence. Not only did Rick now have a daughter to take care off, but we also saw his mental breakdown, and its effect on the group. In this case, no one could even say that Glenn conclusively died, at least until Maggie mounted a recovery mission to find a body.

 

Quick! Track Steven Yeun’s every movement and obsessively document his hair!

 

Everything about tonight’s hour will likely end up overshadowed by Glenn’s death (just look at this review), but “Thank You” should at least earn credit for keeping afloat a relatively paint-by-numbers survival hour. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see some rando Alexandrians biting the big one over the course of a mission, but the three or four sacrificial lambs managed to make memorable enough turns without veering into LOST-style over-exposition. The hour’s emphasis on refusing to leave people behind also made for some interesting tension between Michonne and Heath, prospectively the most important Alexandrian to flesh out, also calling into question some of Rick’s willingness to protect his friends above all else.

Particularly after last season, and the season’s inaugural outing, doubting Rick’s fitness as a leader feels like something of a dead end, though I’m at least curious to see where the thread travels once the herd successfully abates. In earnest, keeping track of every character’s individual role in the effort has grown somewhat tiresome, so hopefully next week will finally put the issue to bed, even after Rick’s current jam.

I really do admire The Walking Dead’s willingness to shake things up in its sixth season, following the walker threat with such serialization, but between Glenn’s apparent end, fence troubles, wayward Wolves and whatever else, “Thank You” was as relentless as the series has ever been. And perhaps Glenn had little to add to ongoing conflicts beyond a voice of reason for Rick and concern for Maggie, but … still.

Damn.

AND ANOTHER THING …

  • Slightly confused as to what Daryl’s plan was, and why he ended up returning to the parade anyway. Still, that helicopter shot of him driving down the empty stretch of road was notably beautiful.
  • “Good luck, dumbass.” Aww.
  • It’s been awhile since someone bit made it through the episode to die of the illness, right?

The Walking Dead will return next Sunday night on AMC with “Here’s Not Here.”

 

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