If you aren’t caught up on “The Walking Dead,” you may have missed the debacle in the first half of Season 6 surrounding whether or not Glenn (Steven Yeun) died in a walker attack. Spoilers: He’s alive and well.
The mystery played out over several episodes of the season, with viewers not quite sure if Glenn met his untimely end on the series or somehow managed to sneak away before becoming a snack for the show’s zombies. Unfortunately, it was a cliffhanger that didn’t sit very well with many fans because it was largely ignored as soon as it happened.
Given that “The Walking Dead” focuses on a large group of survivors — who are often fragmented — the show followed up with just about everyone except Glenn, almost making it seem like he were forgotten. In the end though he crawled under a dumpster to ride out an attacking horde — which just about everyone tuning in had figured out by that point. That left the cliffhanger ending mildly.
Now Yeun has come forward to speak on the decision to leave Glenn’s fate in the balance for so long and he seems to be at peace with it.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the actor says, “We tried for something that could have been dangerous, and to some, it was. And to some, they didn’t like it, and things became polarizing to an extent for that move. But I never felt like our heart was at a place where we were trying to deceive the audience. Never were we like, ‘People are going to go crazy for this!’ It was more just like, let’s tell this story and make it compelling and make it purposeful.”
The issue at hand is they didn’t necessarily tell the story. When one episode ended with Glenn’s possible death, the next picked up as a flashback story centered on Morgan (Lennie James). The quick shift undercut what should have been a wildly dramatic moment, had Glenn have actually been killed.
For Yeun though, he believes in showrunner Scott M. Gimple’s vision for that particular story and the show as a whole. “Scott always brought up the point that he was trying to make the audience feel the same way as how people back in Alexandria must have felt not knowing where Glenn was,” he explains.
Yeun has plenty more to say on the issue, which you can read at EW, but there’s one nut he doesn’t crack in the interview. This is where those who don’t want to be spoiled about what could happen based on the trajectory of the graphic novels should stop reading now.
In the comics, the introduction of Negan means the death of Glenn. With Jeffrey Dean Morgan arriving at the end of Season 6 to play the role, Glenn’s life is again in jeopardy. While the show wouldn’t necessarily follow the comics to the letter and could easily sub someone else in for Glenn, it’s such a major point of the graphic novels that changing it would be jarring.
That said, after fans have already lived through one Glenn death — though it turned out to be a false one — that’s bound to take away a good level of the shock from his actual demise, should it come to pass.
Is Yeun right about how he views the “Is Glenn dead?” mystery? The one thing he’s absolutely correct about it that it’s the decision of every viewer. While some may not have enjoyed how that particular arc was crafted, others were invested in it from beginning to end.
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.