WARNING: MAJOR "WALKING DEAD" SPOILERS AHEAD!
It did not end with a cry for Maggie. It did not end with a baseball bat named Lucille. It might not have even ended at all. But if it did end, then Glenn Rhee's life took a very different turn than it was supposed to — and now, in the aftermath, everyone on "The Walking Dead" should be on high alert.
The latest episode of the series, "Thank You," was not just an expression of gratitude from one dying man to another, but a message from the show to its audience: "Thanks for sticking around all these years, even though it's literally our job to break your heart. Here, it's been a while since we've reminded you of that fact, so let's go ahead and kill an otherwise unkillable character."
That very same message was delivered via Glenn in the comics, albeit in a different way. You probably know the circumstances by now, whether you've read the comics or you just decided to google Glenn's graphic demise as part of your grieving process. The point is, Glenn did not survive the milestone 100th issue of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's "The Walking Dead," and it was a reading experience that left no ambiguity about his fate, and nowhere to turn for comfort.
It was a true turning point for the "Walking Dead" comics. Yes, beloved characters had come and gone, killed off in shocking fashion. Tyreese got his head lopped off, ala Hershel on the show. Lori was torn up in the Governor's assault on the prison, alongside her baby Judith, an even more brutal outcome than we saw on the show. And yet, something about losing Glenn, one of the most innocent characters in a world filled with guilty survivors, screamed four words out into the night: "No one is safe."
Now, the show has crossed over into that unflinching territory, assuming Glenn's actually gone. Even more than in the comics, the Glenn of the show stood out as a beacon of optimism, one of the few shining lights through the grimy Rick Grimes gang, a roster that includes the Ricktator himself, his harsh-hearted son Carl, brooding ronin Michonne, suicide king and queen Abraham Ford and Sasha Williams, and never-say-shower biker Daryl Dixon. We love all (or most) of these characters (TAKE A HIKE, FATHER GABRIEL), but none of them have hearts of gold quite like Glenn.
Consider the heart of gold ripped out, if only temporarily, an act of violence that opens the door for so much more — because if the show will force us to watch Glenn Rhee watch his own innards pulled out from his body, surrounded by a pack of feasting walkers, then there's no telling what the show will force us to watch with some of the more hardened fan-favorites.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is this: If you thought this latest death prompted an online riot, just wait until "Walking Dead" gains the guts to kill off Daryl.
And if you really don't think it'll happen? Tell that to Glenn.