Or, Nicholas was just so damn tasty. His guilt and regret must have produced the perfect biochemical tang, because those walkers were in foodie heaven. I mean, did you see the two walkers who should have torn directly into Glenn’s face sitting there doing nothing because of Nicholas’ offal buffet?

Part of me (feeling unfairly manipulated) was like, “C’mon! You have one job!”

“Dude, that’s just—what?”

Speaking of double-edged, with one this episode gives many viewers (both those who have read the comic and those who have never read an issue) what we think we want.

With the other, the editorial and musical cue misdirection of “Thank You” adds credence to Glenn’s feared death scene as being nothing more than a cheap piece of prolonged ratings-bait.

The only counter-weight to the latter would be the show-runner, producers, and writers are holding tight to Glenn’s comic storyline. For most casual viewers—even though Glenn’s made it out of this necrotized scrum, and even though there’s supposedly equality in TWD’s world since “anyone can die at any time except, you know, those who are just a bit more equal”—I wonder if their sigh of relief will shift their focus elsewhere, and if that distraction is precisely what the show-runner et al. intended.

Yeah, I’m about as hopeful for that as I was confident in the watch tower’s structural stability with every lonely, foreboding shot of it throughout the episode.

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Gift Horses and Dumpsters

“Heads Up” opens with Glenn lying beneath Nicholas, his head toward the dumpster. As the walkers who have no ability to discern depth eviscerate Mr. Thank You, ignoring the visibly reacting and moving piece of meat, Glenn is able to crawl under the dumpster (because Zombieland’s first rule, cardio, has other benefits besides staying alive, namely losing weight). Cut to something getting the walker’s attention—the wind(?) blowing an empty aluminum can. After a long night of the soul, beneath the container best representing our society’s collectively ironic emptiness, Glenn emerges to find an empty water bottle, then he hears a “Heads up,” and misses a tossed water bottle which busts upon contact.

“I told you ‘Heads-up,’” the person atop a neighboring building’s roof says. And, look, it’s Enid, who has found herself a nice little clubhouse—what looks like an antique store, with plenty of tchotchkies and places to hide, which she does.

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Glenn wants to know why she’s there, if the herd has breached Alexandria’s walls. Enid tells him, nope, it wasn’t the dead—it was the living, like it always is. God. And then she takes flight. Glenn chases after her, but loses her trail.

And, damn, Glenn’s just having the worst field trip ever when he gets to the fence where Michonne and her group climbed over in “Thank You,” and David died. Of course, he’s since turned. Glenn puts walker-David out its reanimated misery and finds the note for his wife, Betsy.

A couple commercial breaks later, Enid’s in a cafe by herself (which kind of reminds me of The Winchester in Shaun of the Dead with the silhouettes of walkers shambling by the covered windows), or so she thinks. She’s about to walk out the front door, beyond which the zombie parade is happening, when Glenn’s bloody hand covers her mouth from behind and pulls her backwards.

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He wants to take her back to Alexandria, but she doesn’t want to go because she doesn’t know him. Glenn tries to play the morality card and mentions his wife, but Enid neither knows Maggie nor is she having any of it as she whips out a pistol. Glenn’s not having it either, so he calls her bluff by snatching gently easing the firearm out of her grip like it’s a dish being absent-mindedly passed at Thanksgiving supper.

Enid (saying what every one of us as a petulant teenager [or adult] would say) responds: “Asshole.”

“You point a gun at me,” he asks rhetorically, “and I’m the asshole?” (If he survives [right...] till the child he’s fathered with Maggie reaches her or his teenage years, this moment will provide him with a nice moment of déjà vu that will amuse him.

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Glenn seems to get Enid back on board by explaining what’s happened with half of the herd. During their walk back, after she kills a walker missing its legs and an arm, Glenn gives her a look, to which she petulantly responds, “What?!”

Soon after, Enid finds green helium balloons and thinks Glenn is about to criticize her again. She preemptively explains these can be used to distract the walkers. Glenn tries to make nice by pointing out the hidden canister of helium and spare green balloons.

Later, after he and Enid are talking about being orphans and her resignation to the state of the world, Glenn tries on his dad-pants:

“I get that you’re scared….” he begins. “You don’t want to lose anything again, so you give up, and you say, that’s just what happens.”

“I don’t need a lecture.”

“Yeah, I think you do. You honor the dead by going on, even when you’re scared. You live because they don’t get to. You think your parents wanted you waving around a gun because you’re afraid?”

“We don’t have to talk. We don’t have to talk.”

Had he not just been dumpster ex machina’d from certain disembowelment, I’d think, Glenn—buddy, pal—you’re dying real soon (see the last bullet point in the last section for what I think would be a great mid-season finale).

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Later, upon seeing the besieged community, Enid walks away, muttering, “What’s the point? The world is trying to die. We’re supposed to just let it.”

(God, even for the zombipocalypse that’s just too damn emo for me.)

Luckily, Glenn’s there to reassure her and to give her hope because “it’s not just about [Maggie] any more.”

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Wait—was that a Secret Trial?

Rick, Carol, and Michonne’s tribunal against Morgan is uncomfortable. It’s interesting seeing the philosophical opposites of Carol and Morgan, with the brutality of Carol and the unintended causal chain it can prevent coming out on top, though most of us would like to think we’d be toeing the same line as Morgan.

I wish Michonne had more dialogue in this scene, but her lines, “Things aren’t as simple as four words. I don’t think they ever were,” are powerful.

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Of course, Rick has to add, “Making it now, do you really think you can do it without getting blood on your hands?”

Morgan replies, “I don’t know,” which is the wrong answer.

Carol thinks him a traitor (if not in intent, then in results after he let those Wolves flee; trailing Morgan and Denise to the condo where he’s incarcerated that one Wolf he’s trying to convert, for lack of a better term, only confirms her suspicion), Michonne thinks he needs to move past absolutism, while Rick, well, see two paragraphs above.

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A nice complement to this scene occurs a little later, when Eugene isn’t participating in Rosita’s machete training session.

“Get a grip,” she confronts him. “What are you so scared of?”

Under his breath, he replies, “That would be dying.”

And Rosita gets some of her best dialogue since the scene in the woods with Sasha and Michonne:

“Dying is simple. It all just stops. You’re dead. The people around you dying—that’s the hard part. Because you keep living, knowing that they’re going and you’re still here. What you should be scared of is living, knowing that you didn’t do everything you could to keep them here. Are you too upset to keep going? Are the nosies [the herd outside the walls] scaring you?”

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I like the juxtaposition of Morgan’s willingness to fight but not kill the living, and Eugene’s passivity because from what we know of them both, and the plain spoken truth of Rosita’s words, we’re supposed to side with her (or, at least this viewer does).

And if we agree with her, then why shouldn’t we agree with Carol?

Thus, Rick’s question means if you’re aren’t willing to get your hands bloody, then you’re effectively willing to let outsiders slick their hands red with the blood of your neighbors. And we all know how Carol feels about that (see the second bullet point in the last section of this wee post).

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Chekhov’s—I mean, Ron’s—Gun

When Rick and Carl are giving shooting lessons to Ron, and Carl says, “You got to be strong enough to wait for your moment,” my S.O. mumbled, “Yep, that’s going to end well.” I can’t remember who floated this on the O-Deck last week, but Ron’s going to ruin Carl’s face.

And, boy, who could have seen him stealing a spiteful clutch of bullets from the armory/pantry by distracting Olivia while she’s getting her Dickens on (she’s reading a massive book, whose title I couldn’t make out and don’t remember if it’s been established; I remember Denise was trying to read War & Peace before getting promoted to town doctor, so why can’t Olivia be reading someone who got paid by the word?)

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But, seriously, this town’s level of security feels like it’s on the way to becoming allegorical.

An Idiot on a Wire who went to the Climbing Gym, like, Once

Seriously, what the hell is Spencer thinking? I don’t know what to take from this section of the episode except for this exchange that stems from it.

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After Deanna thanks Rick for saving her son, Rick replies: “What Spencer did was stupid.”

“I can’t argue with that. At least he tried.”

“That’s not the point. I could have tried. There was a chance.” And he describes the gap Spencer’s near-death (again: walkers, you have one job) caused, and how he could have used it to get outside, find a car, lead the herd away—yadda yadda yadda, Rick-Christ-without-the-Sacrifice.

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When Deanna questions why he didn’t do that, he explains: “I helped save him because he’s your son.”

“Wrong answer,” she says, her expression reading: Rick has become a part of this community.

How little, even now, does she realize those implications.

Polishing the Brass of the Titanic’s Wreckage

The episode ends on nearly simultaneously hopeful and catastrophic notes: the green balloons float across the sky above the walls, Maggie squees and we (momentarily) squee along because Maggie and Glenn are an in-show barometer of sorts, and then the tower, which has been shedding planks of wood like the dandruff that must surely be running rampant in a world without conditioner, collapses through the nearest wall (was this a call-back to “JSS” and the pasta-burn Carol levied to the character whose name I don’t care enough to look up, i.e., you can make pasta by hand all you want, but nothing you do will keep your leaning tower from toppling).

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And next week’s mid-season finale will, obviously, involve a slew of deaths inside the walls, which are now as solid a barrier between the artificial rarity that is Alexandria and the, ahem, “non-gentrified” world, as the latex encasing that even rarer element, helium, and its ability to rise above.

So, who’s on deck, ready to get swept overboard?

  • Morgan, who thinks all life is precious, but damn well knows how to Donatello some walkers?
  • Carol, who answers Sam’s question—“If you kill people, do you turn into one of the monsters?”—with a Nietzsche-worthy aphorism: “The only thing that keeps you from becoming a monster is killing”?
  • Judith, who has been passed between babysitters?
  • Jessie and Sam, the latter of whom will be forced to abandon the second story, and both of whom may face the awful fate the comics delivered to their counterparts (if so, get ready for Rick’s coldest line ever to precede their demise)?
  • Ron, who will most likely shoot Carl, then lose his nerve when a group of walkers close in on him?
  • Tara, who will unintentionally sacrifice herself to save Denise or someone else by taking too big a risk?
  • Spencer, whom Deanna’s conversation with Rick has as surely doomed as any grizzled detective two weeks shy of retirement who takes on one last case because it’s the right thing to do?
  • Glenn, who dies at the hands of Negan trying to protect Enid after the Saviors rescue Alexandria from the herd, then demand payment, i.e., women and girls. (Yeah, I know, this is highly unlikely. Some version of this is probably being saved for some point of the season’s second half, if not its finale. But if Glenn were to miraculously survive Nicholas’ gratitude only to get taken out in so meaningless and savage a manner, by a sane but sadistic human being, might that not justify the fake-out? Or, if not justify it, then begin to earn back the audience’s trust?)