The Walking Dead: 5 questions posed by last night's shocking death
Last night's episode of The Walking Dead shocked viewers after it appeared to depict the death of popular main character Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeung).
A gawky but brave pizza delivery boy turned zombie-slashing hero, Glenn was one of the longest-surviving characters on the show, and featured in its very first episode back in 2010 – albeit as a disembodied voice on a radio in a tank, guiding Andrew Lincoln's Rick to safety.
Viewers spent five-and-a-bit seasons watching the character grow, fall in love with farmer's daughter Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and become one of the strongest, most trustworthy members of the group.
His death occurred after he and another character, Nicholas (Michael Traynor), climbed on to some bins to escape a Walker herd. The pair were on a mission to set fire to a building, creating a diversion to help other members of their group, but instead ended up trapped, surrounded by clawing, biting zombies, and pushed up against a wire fence.
The situation looked desperate – and Nicholas eventually appeared to give up, pulling out his gun and shooting himself in the head. As his body slid downwards, it knocked Glenn off the bins, and into the arms of the waiting monsters.
While we didn't actually see Glenn get bitten, the last shot was of him on the ground, completely surrounded and covered by the Walkers: it was clear he wasn't coming back.
Why did Nicholas shoot himself?
Nicholas, one of the residents of "safe" city Alexandria, was probably already one of the most hated characters on the show. In season five, his cowardice caused the death of Noah (Tyler James Williams). Afterwards, he tried to murder Glenn to cover up his actions.
Glenn later had the opportunity to get rid of Nicholas once and for all, but decided to show him mercy – a moment of humanity that ultimately contributed to his death.
Throughout last night's episode, we saw Nicholas struggling with guilt, and attempting to show that he was a changed man. But in the end it looked as if he just gave up. He'd had enough of himself and of the world, and, faced with a hopeless situation, decided to end it all rather than keep fighting.
Did Nicholas mean to kill Glenn?
Given Nicholas’s track record, this point is obviously somewhat debatable. But, from what we saw, Nicholas wasn’t really thinking at all when he pulled the trigger: we very much doubt he was trying to kill anyone other than himself. In fact, if Glenn had managed to hang on, the death of his companion may even have caused a diversion and given him some breathing space – although it's still not clear exactly how he would have escaped.
Is Glenn definitely dead?
It seems pretty unlikely, but some viewers/wishful thinkers have speculated that a miraculous escape might still be in store for the character, claiming that we never actually saw Glenn get bitten (according to a Forbes article, the flesh that the Walkers appear to pull from his chest could in fact belong to Nicholas). Yeung is also apparently still credited for episodes later on in this season, although it’s possible that the character may just be appearing in flashbacks, or as a zombie.
The show's executive producer Scott Gimple has also hinted that the character will be back one way or another – although he's kept things frustratingly ambiguous.
"In some way, we will see Glenn, some version of Glenn, or parts of Glenn again, either in flashback or in the current story, to help complete the story," he said, in a statement read out last night on companion show The Talking Dead.
It’s also worth noting that in the Walking Dead comic books (whose storylines differ significantly from those in the show), Glenn is already dead. The character responsible for his death in the comics is rumoured to be joining the show later this season.
What about poor Maggie?
She's seen her father beheaded by a crazed eyepatch-sporting maniac; was reunited with her sister after months apart, only to find out that Beth had been shot – and now her husband's been killed by Walkers. She's one of the most resilient characters on the show, but will Maggie be strong enough to pull through after this latest tragedy?
How many of the original cast from season one are left?
Rick, Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Carol (Melissa McBride) are the only main characters introduced in season one who are still part of the show. Recurring character Morgan (Lennie James), who appeared in the very first episode but was not a series regular, also features in season six.