‘Walking Dead’ Review: ‘Heads Up’ Finally Reveals Glenn’s Fate in the Worst Possible Way
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “Heads Up”:
Ugh. Well, at least we can all stop speculating. In earnest, I’m not sure how much there is to say by Glenn’s return, as we’d known since the fake-out’s post-show Talking Dead that we’d see Glenn again in “some form” before the midseason break, the bigger surprise being that “Heads Up” flat out showed us in its opening minutes. In any case, this entire endeavor has brought about such terrible disappointment, magnified by the fact that Glenn’s dumpster dive represented one of the first, easiest possible answers to explaining his escape.
Why not have him spot some kind of sewer grate, to pull him out of more immediate harm’s way? Why not have someone divert the walkers away (Enid had been another fan theory, though her actual appearance here was nothing but a coincidence after the fact) long enough for Glenn to find better shelter? Really, how about anything that the general fandom wouldn’t immediately suspect? Instead, the solution proves so infuriatingly on the nose, and implausible at that, that so much in retrospect turns sour. The Talking Dead absence. The opening credits omission (he’s back this week). The doublespeak from producers. All, just to say “Nope! They were Nicholas’ guts, and Glenn just hid under a dumpster. He got real thirsty, though!”
What a terrible, terrible idea this was, to drag out all half-season.
Adding Enid into the mix didn’t exactly add much either, though one could perhaps make the argument that their uneasy dynamic spotlighted a more determined, authoritative Glenn, likely in support of showrunner claims that the Glenn “we knew” was gone. Still, given the buildup and ultimate collapse of the bell tower back at Alexandria, it’s hard to imagine that Glenn and Enid’s return, or any of the other events of tonight’s* hour will garner much focus with a herd of walkers pouring into the walls.
*Lest we forget, Daryl, Abraham and Sasha are still out there too, and likely pulled away to investigate the “help” voice (why show it as a cliffhanger, if not to follow up), all of which already make for one way-overstuffed midseason finale next week, assuming the trio aren’t pushed to February.
The infuriating oddity of Glenn’s return aside, “Heads Up” had a few interesting events back in Alexandria, mostly the chance to finally confront Morgan on the dangers of his “all life is precious” philosophy. It doesn’t take Rick long to piece together that the Wolves attacking the RV were the same ones Morgan let go, though Morgan at least had some interesting points in his defense. True, Rick sparing Morgan back in King County enabled him to save Daryl and Aaron down the line (though potentially bringing the Wolves in the process), but the decision to spare those particular Wolves wrought so much more immediate consequence, Morgan had to admit the uncertainty of his beliefs. Morgan and Denise also made for an interesting pairing, even as Carol caught on and found what they were hiding, though again, the tower collapse will almost certainly pull focus by the finale.
It was also nice to see Rick rediscovering some of his compassion as well, between a little light bonding with Tobin, or the unspoken admission that Rick opted to save Spencer* as the right thing to do, rather than use the opportunity to clear the wall and enact a plan to lead the herd away. There’s an inescapable redshirt quality to the Alexandrians, one “Heads Up” took repeated opportunities to remind Rick that they’ll pull their weight in time, even as their survival skills continually prove profoundly stupid.
*Talk about Glenn’s survival hitting a bullseye on The Walking Dead’s broken sense of stake, Spencer managed to land RIGHT IN THE MIDST OF A HERD, and still have enough time to get up, and climb up the rope unharmed. It’s a good bet we can expect some notable deaths next week, but still. Six seasons in, The Walking Dead is in desperate need of consequence.
Look, no one exactly wanted to say goodbye to Steven Yeun, but this whole Glenn situation has been so poorly handled from the start, leaving a major stain on the first half of Season 6. It pulled focus from every episode in between, and robbed “Heads Up” of enough time to address any of the other lingering plot points already fighting for the spotlight next week. By itself, the time spent in Alexandria wasn’t particularly revelatory, mostly the calm before the storm, but a few character beats worth exploring.
Not Ron, though. I mean seriously, is that whole family made of dicks?
AND ANOTHER THING …
- I still don’t think I understand what the bleeding hole in the fence is about.
- Uncertain how much to feel bad for Gabriel getting some high school-style bullying from Rick, all things considered.
- How … is tying balloons to yourself … a distraction?
- Holy pregnant Alanna Masterson! Beauty in motherhood of course, but such hilariously poor concealment all around.
- Eugene got sad in machete class. Carry on.
- Worth noting, AMC more or less confirmed that the mystery man from last week is indeed The Walking Dead’s incarnation of Dwight, a major setup of the next big bad to come.
The Walking Dead will return next Sunday night on AMC with mid-season finale “Start to Finish.”
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