Beware MAJOR Walking Dead spoilers ahead…
The Walking Dead is my favorite show to say the very least. Anyone who holds a conversation with me longer than five minutes will learn this very quickly. My love for this show defies anyone’s expectations. A Terminus map hangs right over my bed along with photos of Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan). Oh and did I mention I sleep with a Glenn Rhee pillow? My love for The Walking Dead goes beyond my love for any other TV show I’ve ever watched. It’s all consuming. It kicks me when I’m down and helps me up. Even as I’m penning this letter, I’m crying.
I first joined The Walking Dead family at the end of season three. The first episode I watched live was in fact the season three finale where Andrea (Laurie Holden) dies tragically at the hands of The Governor (David Morrissey). Up until this point, I lived in my own little bubble. I watched these episodes alone and went through the motions alone. This was the first episode where I felt I had a family behind me. Everyone was experiencing this iconic The Walking Dead moment together. It was rough, but we could get through it together.
The Walking Dead, I love you but I also hate you. I hate that you make me fall in love with characters just to rip them away. I love you, but I hate you. If you couldn’t tell from the above statement my absolute favorite TV character is (I refuse speak in past tense) Glenn Rhee. Since he was first heard on the radio talking to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) in the pilot, I fell in love. By episode 2, Glenn became my whole world. Of course falling in love within The Walking Dead is a dangerous task. The very fabric of this show says I shouldn’t get attached. It’s about the zombie apocalypse. Things are going to go wrong or else the show wouldn’t exist. No one and I mean no one is safe.
Despite the voice in my head telling me to keep a safe distance from these characters, I did the farthest thing from that. I gripped tighter to my adorable Pizza Delivery Boy and the beautiful and strong “chick that rode out of nowhere like Zorro.” Glenn and Maggie quickly consumed my life. Any of my friends can tell you, the way I love Glenn Rhee is unlike anything else.
One thing about The Walking Dead is when something heart-wrenching happens, the world doesn’t stop. We have to trudge on past the gore alongside our gang. I quickly had to pull it together like Carl (Chandler Riggs) when he put Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) down. I cried the same amount of tears as Maggie when she watched Hershel (Scott Wilson) go at the hands of The Governor, but like her I moved forward. The hardest one? When I got my hope up that The Greene Sisters would be reunited only to be crushed when Daryl (Norman Reedus) carried Beth (Emily Kinney) out of Grady Memorial. This moment took much longer to get over. I couldn’t move on. I was like Maggie, stuck in the middle of the road wondering if there was any point to move forward. But I did. I kept going. I’ve done the farthest thing from what I told myself. I’ve loved and lost alongside these characters. It’s simultaneously the best and worst feeling in the world.
I’ve read the comics for The Walking Dead. So, on some level I knew my days with Glenn were numbered. When I eventually hit the now iconic Issue #100 I was devastated. I didn’t pick up the comics for at least a month. It was too much for me to handle. When season 6 of The Walking Dead began I knew we were approaching Negan and his meeting with our group. Each week we inched closer and closer and I was far from ready. Could this really be the end? Is my love affair coming to an end?
This brings me to the season 7 opener, “A Day Will Come When You Won’t Be.” The very episode title already haunts my nightmares. I dreaded this moment all summer. Even through attending SDCC and NYCC I couldn’t keep my emotions in check. I cried so hard at The Walking Dead SDCC panel that the woman sitting next to me offered me tissues (thank you by the way). So, when this past Sunday rolled around I couldn’t take it. When we first witness Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) take the brutal beating I let myself breathe. Not because I didn’t care about Abraham, but it looked like Glenn was in the clear. I had visions of Glenn and Maggie growing old together, raising their child and fighting walkers until the end of time. Like Rick Grimes, I let myself see the family dinner they would all have.
Then suddenly without even thinking, Negan ripped away my happy ending alongside Rick. I watched from behind my Glenn Rhee pillow as the happy life I envisioned for these characters fanished with one swing of a bat. In my head, I launched into the TV, took down Negan before he did this. I rushed at him, took him out so Glenn and Maggie could walk into the sun together. I didn’t move, I was paralyzed with grief. Sobbing harder than I ever had. I’m going to be honest, the rest of the episode was a hazy blur of emotions. My sobbing was only interrupted by the occasional time my roommate, Dayna, asked me if I was breathing. In this moment I hate The Walking Dead more than I ever have before. I hate that I let myself love this show.
Of course when your all-time favorite character dies, most people will say they’re swearing off the show. They make the sweeping declaration that they won’t watch the show anymore. Despite my undying love for Glenn, I never actually said these words. You are probably asking yourself why? Maggie Greene. Her character arc has been something to behold and this will only propel her storyline forward. Lauren Cohan cares more about this show than anyone. Her tears during 2016 NYCC sum that up best. If anyone was going to lead me forward it would be Maggie Greene and Lauren Cohan. Maggie will come out of all this hardship stronger than ever and I will have a hand on her shoulder along with Hershel, Beth and especially Glenn.
The Walking Dead, I love you, but I hate you, but I can’t quit on you now. Just like Maggie being the first to stand up and move forward this week, I have to do the same. Glenn will remain the heart of this universe. I will watch week after week as every single character continues his legacy. The Walking Dead, I love you, but I hate you, but I’ll never quit you.