[This post contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 7 premiere.]
The season premiere of The Walking Dead wasn't only one of the highest rated returns for the hit show, it has also proved to be one of the most talked about episodes in recent television history. Fans were left waiting for over six months in nail-biting anticipation for Negan to finish singing his child's lullaby and revealing which character would be on the receiving end of Lucille. The premiere shocked the world, with the surprisingly brutal and visceral season opener which saw the loss of two significant players, Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun).
The most heartbreaking of the two deaths was undoubtedly that of Glenn, due to his long tenure on the show. He was one of The Walking Dead's most resourceful and charismatic players and watching his tragic end will forever be a defining moment for the series. Particularly, watching him utter his final heartbreaking words, "I will find you," to his wife Maggie (Lauren Cohen).
Cohen gave her thoughts on Glenn's last words during the most recent episode of The Talking Dead:
“In this life or the next...They’re star-crossed lovers. ‘I’ll find you, I’ll be with you, I’ll watch over you. I’ll be there.’”
The romance between Maggie and Glenn was one of the more believable interpersonal relationships on the show. However, there may be no other character that's experienced as much pain or suffering as Maggie on The Walking Dead. She lost her father to decapitation and her sister was gunned down at point blank, among a string of other tragedies. So Glenn's words do have added significance and hopefully comfort.
Yeun gave more insight into the possible hidden meaning behind his character's final words during The Talking Dead, when he explained:
“He dies in such a Glenn way. Still not thinking about himself. It’s important [that] he puts those final words out as a way of saying, ‘Look out for one another.’”
Since the first episode, when he rescued Rick Grimes from a certain death, Glenn has always been looking out for his fellow survivors. It was even personified in his designated role as a runner for the group early on; he would volunteer to go into zombie infested neighborhoods alone in search of supplies for the survivors. So it's fitting that his last act would be a selfless one.
The outcry over Glenn's death has been loud, despite its faithfulness to the source material. However, before fans storm the fences of AMC headquarters, Yeun explained that he was an avid supporter of sticking to the comic roots:
"Robert wrote such a messed up but at the same time incredible way to take something away. To make a story as impactful as it is. When you read the comic, you kind of don’t want that moment to go to anyone else. I think I said that, ‘Don’t let that go to anyone else.‘ To do it the way we did it, I think, was brave and super affecting."
The world that Robert Kirkman has created, both on the page and on the small screen, has become a cultural phenomenon over the course of the past decade. A large part of the success is due to daring and unconventional storytelling that occasionally pulls the chair from under its audience. There has been plenty of heartbreak in seasons past, however it usually has led to even more story possibilities. Over the course of this and coming seasons, we will find out if Kirkman, showrunner Scott Gimple, and Yeun's instincts prove beneficial, as viewers head into the zombie apocalypse without Glenn.
The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with ‘The Well’ @9pm on AMC.
Source: The Talking Dead [via Vanity Fair]