[This post contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 7 premiere.]
The Walking Dead continues to ride high off its shocking, polarizing season 7 premiere. Although fans spent months knowing that someone would be Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) unfortunate victim, the graphic, torturous depiction of the deadly beatings of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) led many viewers to say that the episode went overboard, even by the standards of a show as gory and uncompromising as The Walking Dead.
Glenn’s death, in particular, was excruciating to watch, especially since he had been on the series since the beginning and his loss meant major ramifications for the group. Showing Glenn’s bloodied head, cracked skull, and eyeball popped out of its socket for what felt like an eternity, the TV depiction of his death was unflinchingly faithful to his death in issue No. 100 of Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel series. But non-readers were nonetheless unprepared for such a brutal end to a beloved character.
Still, extreme violence is nothing new for The Walking Dead as a TV production. It has has long featured some of the best makeup you’ll see on the small screen. Yeun, who recently penned a heartfelt goodbye to the fans of his performance as Glenn, also knew many would be interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the making of his brutal end. That’s why the actor shared a photo to his Facebook page of himself in the makeup room preparing to film his death scene. In the blood-free photo, you can see him sporting the jagged gashes from Negan’s barbed-wire baseball bat and Glenn’s now-infamous popped eyeball. A fan posted the photo on Reddit after Yeun apparently deleted it from Facebook.
The Reddit poster said that Yeun deactivated his entire Facebook account and may have gotten in trouble with the social network for posting such a graphic photo - even though it’s just prosthetic makeup. Yeun’s Facebook page is online now, but the photo is nowhere to be found.
If and when The Walking Dead receives its seventh Emmy nomination for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup in as many seasons, the season 7 premiere will likely be the episode submitted for consideration. As grisly and agonizing Glenn's death was, the remarkably realistic makeup work on Yeun's head was a significant part of what made the scene so effective. Yeun's photo gives a closer look at the damage done to his head and face and it's disturbing to see, but it also shows the great attention to detail that went into making Glenn's horrifying death in the comics a macabre reality.
Of course, this piece of behind-the-scenes content won't do anything to change the minds of the subset of viewers who were decidedly repulsed by the scene and its purportedly gratuitous violence, like the Parents Television Council. One could argue that the makeup photo, and the scene itself, exists only to satisfy fans' underlying morbid curiosity. But The Walking Dead is a bleak show that invites that kind of morbid interest in the first place, and the makeup work on Yeun should be commended for its role in making such a violent scene so brutally convincing.
The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with 'The Well' @9pm on AMC.