WARNING: MAJOR "WALKING DEAD" TV SHOW AND COMIC BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD!
Keep hope alive, "Walking Dead" fans — and while you're at it, keep Glenn alive in your thoughts, too. There's reason to believe that Steven Yeun's season one veteran didn't die in "Thank You," despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Here, I'll give you a minute to catch up on the arguments in favor of his survival.
Got all that? Cool, because now it's time to make you sad again! If there's one piece of evidence in support of the "Glenn is dead" side of the argument (beyond, you know, the fact that he maybe got his intestines ripped out, and was at the very least surrounded by an absurd amount of flesh-eating monsters when last we saw him), it's that he definitely, unambiguously, totally grossly dies in the comics.
If you've read Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's "Walking Dead" #100, then you're already well aware of what happens to Glenn. If you haven't read the issue, well, you should get on that — but bring a bunch of tissues, and perhaps even a plastic bag in case you get sick, because it's heartbreaking and disgusting in equal measure.
It's also very different from what happened to Glenn on the show, and to pull the curtain back on the moment, it requires talking about things that have not happened on the AMC series — not yet, at least. So, again, one final SPOILER alert before we get started on a bullet-points version of how it all went down…
For starters, the Wolves are nothing.Charlie Adlard / Image Comics
As in, they don't exist in the comics. There are no Wolves at the doors of Alexandria in the source material. Instead, there are other forces of antagonism, like the Scavengers, who cause Rick's friends a good bit of bother… but nothing in comparison to the Saviors, an organized group of survivors that lord over other communities, offering them "protection" in exchange for supplies. It's not exactly a fair deal, since the main menace facing these communities, outside of and perhaps even greater than the zombies, are the Saviors themselves.
Rick Grimes needs no Saviors.Charlie Adlard / Image Comics
The Rick of the comic is much like the Rick of the TV show, in that he doesn't stomach bulls--t easily. When he and his Alexandrians come into contact with a community called the Hilltop, he promises to become their new protectors, with a much fairer exchange rate for supplies. In fact, he swears to put an end to the Saviors once and for all. And why not believe him? He's Rick Grimes. Dude bit a guy's throat out once, and murdered a bunch of cannibals another time. He's intense.
About that plan…Charlie Adlard / Image Comics
It doesn't play out the way Rick imagined. On his way back from the Hilltop, he and his allies encounter some Saviors, and the meeting ends with all but one of the new enemies dead. Shortly thereafter, the Saviors and Alexandria come to blows, resulting in a win for Rick's crew, albeit with at least one major casualty. Nope, not Glenn; still getting to that, and not spoiling this particular surprise here. Seriously, go read the comics. They're great.
Welcome to Pee Pants City.Charlie Adlard / Image Comics
Following the fight, Rick leaves for the Hilltop with a bunch of his companions: Carl, Michonne, Heath, Sophia (still alive in the books!), a newly pregnant Maggie and — here we go — Glenn. Along the way, however, they're ambushed by the Saviors, including their leader: Negan, a foul-mouthed maniac with an alarmingly big smile, and an even more alarming baseball bat.
Meet Lucille.Charlie Adlard / Image Comics
In the lead-up to "Walking Dead" #100, there were teasers about "Lucille," someone many fans assumed would be a new big bad. Little did they know, Lucille was more of a big bat than a big bad. It's the name of Negan's weapon of choice, a baseball bat wrapped up in barbed wire. Negan tells Rick that he has one last chance to accept the Saviors as the new overlords of Alexandria — but even if Rick accepts, Negan still plans on using Lucille to teach a lesson.
"Eenie, meenie, miney, mo…"Charlie Adlard / Image Comics
Negan looks out at Rick's group and, for various reasons, can't decide who to kill. So he recites the nursery rhyme and uses that to guide Lucille to the target; it's the only way to be fair. The bat points at every single one of the aforementioned characters, before landing on everybody's favorite pizza delivery boy.
"Please don't."Charlie Adlard / Image Comics
What happens next is pretty much the worst thing ever: Negan smashes and smashes Glenn's brains in for pages and pages, in one of the most extreme acts of violence in the entire series. Glenn lets out cries for help, screaming for Maggie until he can't scream anymore. It's awful. When he's done, Negan leaves Rick's group to deal with Glenn's body, and tells Rick to prepare for another meeting in one week's time.
There's no retaliation in the moment, but needless to say, it's just the beginning of a bitter, bloody rivalry between Rick Grimes and Negan's Saviors.
So, how will this all play out on the show?Charlie Adlard / Image Comics
It's an interesting question on a number of levels. A lot of people think Glenn survived "Thank You," and if that's true, perhaps he's only sticking around long enough to get wailed upon by Negan. If Glenn did die during "Thank You," then someone else will be on the receiving end of Lucille at some point in the future; the moment is way too iconic not to make it onto the show.
Here's the thing, though: Glenn might make it out of both "Thank You" and the Lucille incident alive. Part of the horror of his death is the fact that it's totally, completely random. Negan only decides on Glenn thanks to "eenie, meenie, miney, mo." Change Glenn's order in the lineup, and the bat could have landed on, say, Heath. It was purely luck of the draw — or lack thereof, I suppose.
In other words, if Glenn is around for the Negan introduction, the bat might land on someone else. The "Walking Dead" show loves few things more than riffing on expectations from the comics; Hershel's decapitation on the show belonged to Tyreese in the comics, for instance.
Glenn's death is the perfect opportunity for a similar remix — but in order for the moment to have full impact, Lucille needs to hit someone we love, someone we've known for a long time, someone we feel we can't live without.
Who knows how it'll shake out on the show, but if I were to place a bet? I'd tell all you Daryl Dixon fans to keep your riot gear handy when Negan comes to town — or Pee Pants City, as it were.