While this season has definitely seen a step up in quality from last year, one thing it has been missing is an ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe that just happened!’ moment; something of the ilk of Shane shooting Otis, Rick amputating Hershel’s leg or Daryl’s euthanisation of Merle. Well, the wait is officially over.
Before that, it was a fairly routine episode. In the wake of Alexandria-car-horn-gate, everybody’s on the run. A number of unprepared Alexandria residents get picked off in increasingly gruesome fashion, but since we can’t remember any of their names, it’s not too much of an issue.
Even when Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Nicholas (Michael Traynor) get cornered, we assume that at least Glenn will make it out. We recognise that characters who’ve been there from the beginning aren’t safe (especially considering how hardly any of them are left), but still, if they do go, it’ll be in slightly more dramatic circumstances than this.
Not so, apparently. When Nicholas decides to lose his head physically as well as metaphorically, his cowardly legacy is to take Glenn down with him.
Already there are fan theories flooding the internet about how he could have survived, but we’re putting all our eggs in one basket here: he’s dead. Very dead. Unless that whole scene was a dream/nightmare sequence, he’s extremely dead.
It’s a shame that he’s gone, but his death goes to serve a purpose in emphasising once again – not that we needed to be told – that no one is safe. More than that, they won’t necessarily go out with a bang. They could be simply damned by someone else’s ineptitude. Not everyone can be Merle, Hershel or Shane and have a demise to remember.
And that’s not the only shocking thing in this episode. For all his hard-headedness, cracks are showing in Rick’s own armour, and the end of the episode sees him in a very insecure place indeed.
The Walking Dead is back to doing what it does best: giving us a reason to tune in the following week, and counting down the days until we are able to do so. And that can only be a good thing.