If you're foolish enough to expect closure on the issue of Glenn Rhee, this episode will only infuriate and frustrate you. The corresponding dip in ratings for this season has clouded the issue because here we have a popular show that is firing on all cylinders with an absolutely terrible and manipulative front half of a season underway. If there's a negative reaction, it has to do with the awful way in which we are being introduced to the idea that Glenn's either dead or not dead.
Is this any way to tell a story? Only if you have contempt for your audience.
Anyway, the failure to deal with what happened to Glenn in a definitive manner puts up an argument that doesn't hold much water. From the viewpoint of the people making The Walking Dead, the storyline of what really happened to Glenn in that alley was moved along only marginally during this episode. We have Maggie and Aaron undertaking a fruitless journey through the sewers to try and find a way out of the Alexandria safe zone. This was done more to show off a pair of innovatively rotted walkers as opposed to really giving us any closure on the matter. This delivers Maggie's bombshell--I won't spoil it here--and Aaron's guilt but it leaves the issue open and festering.
The reason why stringing along the viewers doesn't work is because this show is presented from a very omniscient point of view. We are allowed to see everything so that there isn't any ambiguity. We have been given cliffhangers--the worst cliffhanger of all would have been putting everyone in the rail car at the end of Season Four--but we haven't been forced to suffer like this as viewers unless you count Sophia's disappearance and reappearance in Season Two. The difference here being the fact that there was much less invested in Sophia as a character than there is in Glenn.
"Killing" Glenn in an ambiguous way was the bridge too far in this season. We already have the tension created by the massive herd of walkers introduced at the beginning of the season. We already know that there's a Wolf locked in a townhome basement who swears he will kill everyone. We already have Enid running around with survivor's guilt. And we already suspect that Daryl, Abraham and Sasha have a bit of a problem of their own on their hands.
We've killed off half of Alexandria. Now we have the heartbreaking issue of what really happened to Glenn. I believe that this storyline has killed off goodwill and helped drive people away from the show. The simple act of removing him as a character is a choice that could be defended on any number of levels. But by not definitively killing him and leaving things open ended, the show teases the audience in a way that isn't necessary. Any show that does this and goes over the line opens up enmity from the audience and this was neither the time nor the place to try this sort of thing on for size.
Now that this is out of the way, we had a very strong episode featuring Alexandria's surviving residents and their counterparts in Rick's group. They are not meshed together nor are they capable of coming out of their exile from reality--except for Deanna, Jessie and fledgling Dr. Denise. This was a great episode for Tovah Feldshuh, Alexandra Breckenridge and Merrit Wever. We had a lesbian kiss, a straight kiss, and Deanna told some walkers to talk to the hand. Great performances all, and while the story doesn't move forward all that much, we do get to see the reaction to the Wolf attack and the first real test of the walls keeping them safe.
When blood runs down the wall at the end of the show, you already know the answer as to what will happen soon. It might be time to start thinking about an evacuation plan. When Rick kisses Jessie, we know that their blooming love is going to be doomed from the outset by the machinations of her oldest son and the helplessness of her youngest son. Criminally absent was Carol and her casserole.When Crazy Rick disappears and Sane, Tender Rick appears, we already know it won't last. Why isn't anyone trying to reduce the walkers on the perimeter? Why isn't anyone building a fortified citadel where they can all evacuate to if the wall is breached? Why didn't Morgan tell anyone he had a captive?
Collectively, let's all yell argh! and move on to other things.
And so, unfortunately, the fact that Sasha and Abraham are some twenty miles down the road leaves Alexandria without two powerful defenders. We'll deal with their story, and with Daryl's, next week. If there is still no closure with Glenn's storyline, don't worry. There's a mid-season cliffhanger coming, and it will probably extend his fate well into the back half of the season. This will, I think, go down as a poor decision but I've been wrong before.