Glenn’s dead. I didn’t see ‘The Walking Dead’ on Sunday night, even though I work for DT, and it’s pretty much my obligation as a comic/movie nerd to have done so. But it didn’t matter, because the world saw it for me. 17 million people in fact tuned in. We all knew who would meet their demise at the end of Negan’s barbed bat. One, because some of us read the comic, and two, because it was the obvious choice. Maggie had a kid on the way. That’s screenwriting 101 right there. A softer nut for diehards and pedantic readers to swallow; something people can adhere to so they could move on with their lives and feel “ok” with the loss of their hero, because he passed his seed on. Baby Glenn will grow up to extract his revenge, and right the wrongs of his father’s sins or whatever. Shakespeare and yadda yadda… But for those who didn’t know and wouldn’t have minded waiting to see it for themselves, the rest of the internet didn’t give a shit.
With that said, one of the most interesting aspects of Sunday’s reveal and subsequent retelling in social forums, has been the lack of outcry by audience members who hadn’t yet seen the episode. I toyed with the idea of even putting a “spoiler” warning on this post, because who the fuck doesn’t know by now (who’s also a fan of The Walking Dead) that Glenn and Abraham are strumming harps together on a (hopefully) zombie free cloud somewhere? Possibly due to osmosis, and the general hostile environment that is Facebook, the word of their death spread like wildfire. Even op-ed articles and blog posts took a backseat to everyone’s sensitivity in regards to the this episode. The world needed to know, and that’s exactly what happened.
I would suggest that maybe collectively, the idea of “spoilers” is becoming old-hat. It’s no longer story moments in a show, but rather “news” when a character dies. Major events happen, changing the outcome for the players in the show, and that’s now fair game for forefront reporting. The onus of keeping that secret then lies on the shoulders of those who know. Which can be difficult for many. The argument seems to be “If you’re a fan, you’d had seen it by now anyway.” So why do I need to keep my mouth shut for something someone else had failed to take advantage of. Han Solo in ‘The Force Awakens’ is a good example of people acting like its their right to speak freely on the subject, and maybe there’s a point there to be made. Unfortunately, staying off the internet until you’ve caught up with your shows/movies is about as likely as a cat not knocking over a glass of water just to see it smash on the ground. We tend to be overly inundated with information. Not everyone (fan or otherwise) is as up to date as they’d like to be; whether they intend to be or not.
It seems as though nothing is off limits when it comes to talking about the walking. Assumption of others consumption is universal. I read one article that forwent the common dialogue about Negan and his swing-happy demeanor, and instead focused on the dream sequence in the show. A scene that depicted a perfect world where everyone is happy, eating lunch on a sunny day; broaches closer to a series finale, rather than a season opener. To go as far as suggest it’s bold film making is generous, but it is taking risks where it needs to, and God knows, ‘The Walking Dead’ needs to do more than show fan favs getting their head bashed in if they want to keep the ratings up. Especially when you consider that maybe collectively fans are starting to checkout emotionally from the show.
Maybe “The Walking Dead” as a title doesn’t refer to zombies at all, but rather the ragtag crew, (or in a meticulously meta sense, even the people who tune in weekly to watch) as they’re making their way through the desolate and destitute landscape, trying to keep their sanity and very literally their own heads. The truth is, is eventually they will all die, and trying to stay alive seems oddly foolhardy in a world where there is no hope. People are gluttons for pain. Especially at their own hands. Rick and Daryl are the purveyors of a dream gone nightmare, as they (like their audiences) seem to seek out punishment. The show has turned into torture porn, but the ratings get higher and higher as the seasons move on. Audiences want to feel something; even if that something is loss. It could be the timing of a perfect storm with the 2016 Election underway; audiences are numb and need to remember what it’s like to feel again, even if it’s sorrow by suffering. Escapism by way of misery is telling of today’s surroundings. 17 million people tuning in to watch their favorite characters get whacked in the most brutally horrific way possible, seems oddly and subtly suicidal. Like so many people who live The Walking Dead, maybe (like the people in the show) watchers are hoping to just get it over with, as they sit with baited but predicted breath wishing for it all to “just end already!”