Thoughtful & Abstract: Looking at The Walking Dead’s Glenn Rhee

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee – The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@kimfreakinb) continue to discuss their favorite characters on television.

“No one is impressed, man. Walk away.” – Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun)

Shawn: I want to continue our talk about our favorite characters with Glenn Rhee from The Walking Dead. He’s the most likable post-apocalyptic pizza delivery guy ever. I’ve loved him ever since his introduction to us as just a voice. Rick is trapped in the tank in Atlanta and over the radio we hear the “Hey you…dumbass.” It’s appropriate that we first hear him because I see him as our “voice of reason” still.

I love this character because he is always just there. He doesn’t complain or act as tortured as many of the characters. He has continued to adapt to the ever changing world around him. Maybe that is a combination of his Michigan upbringing, his age (mid 20s, I’m guessing) and that he grew up with Korean parents and sisters. He used his knowledge of Atlanta to gather supplies at the beginning. Since then, he’s developed that special skill set and is one of the most trustworthy to avoid walkers when out on a run.

I feared Glenn’s death at the end of this season. It actually brought pain to my stomach thinking it could happen. Why is Glenn my favorite? He’s had the most successful love relationship of “our group” with Maggie and he’s suffered as much tragedy as almost anyone. His love for Maggie has had to endure the loss of her entire family including the shocking and painful loss of Hershel. The death of the patriarch of the family and the moral compass of the group passed much of that responsibility off to Glenn.

I’m continually drawn to his experiences in “When the Dead Come Knocking”. Glenn and Maggie are being held prisoner by the Governor in rooms next to each other so they can each here what the other is suffering. Glenn is being beaten by Merle and could easily have given up the location of the prison. Glenn takes the punches as if taking the punishment from Merle for everything that happened in Atlanta. The tables are turned and Glenn has to listen to what he can only assume is Maggie being assaulted by the Governor. He’s brought into the room with Maggie and still refuses to give up the location of the group. It’s only then that we see a weakness in Maggie that she gives up the Prison location.

Glenn doesn’t ever turn from her though. They had some rough moments afterwards and I thought the show did a great job of realistically portraying the effects of assault on a relationship (at least from Glenn’s point of view). And Glenn’s desire to kill the Governor seemed completely within character. Just as it seemed appropriate that Glenn argued for saving the people of Terminus. He’s our moral compass but he’s completely human too.

Glenn and Maggie are my hope. More than even the children. I cling to the hope that in all the shit that has become of the world that they can find joy. It feels real when they are together. I am so happy for my man to make it another season. Who was the first one through the gates in Alexandria? It was Glenn – ever the optimist despite the shit that would go down with Noah later. Through it Glenn keeps moving forward. I still am waiting for him to call Rick again over the radio and say, “Hey you…dumbass.”

Kim: Oh, how I love my Glenn! I remember early on, I always felt bad for him because he was always the one getting picked to do the shitty jobs. And while we recognize it as he was young, quick, and agile, it always seemed like they were picking on him, much like the runt of the litter. As I’ve watched his character grow and evolve, I’ve had many giggles along the way. Scoring with Maggie at the pharmacy was one of my favorite scenes. He was so young and innocent and shocked that a girl like Maggie would consider having sex with him.

The love that Glenn has for Maggie is one of the best things this show has going for it, right after Norman Reedus’ arms. Those two are your hope for humanity and a shining light that shows you there still is love in this apocalyptic world. You bring up the Glenn as a prisoner and you need to know that was definitely my favorite scene I have seen Steven Yeun in. He was a total bad ass fighting off that walker with a chair. I don’t think I’ve ever rooted so hard for anyone in that show to get out of a situation. I wanted him free. I wanted him to save Maggie and I wanted him to go on to do great things. And he really has.

I’m going to correct something you said about portraying how a sexual assault affects a relationship. As a woman, I thought it showed how a man in a relationship views it, never really what Maggie’s thoughts or feelings were, other than Glenn was being a selfish ass by focusing on it. He almost lost her due to that and it’s a difficult situation to put in a show, but I applaud the writers for doing so.

This season, I was in awe of how much of Dale they put in Glenn. The guy who was once the kid who had to do the shitty dangerous jobs has somehow become the moral compass of the group, much like Dale was. He didn’t kill Nicholas, and I think anyone else in the group would have (except Dale). He fixed the RV at one point, a skill he got from Dale. He’s pretty focused on how not to lose his humanity and trying to help everyone else hold on to theirs, just like Dale. This makes me nervous, because we all know what happened to Dale. In fact, every moral compass this group has winds up dead.

I need to give mad props to Yeun as an actor. When they were in that revolving door and he had to watch Noah die, I felt every bit of that with him. As incredible as that scene was as a whole, I thought he really carried it, start to finish. In fact, that entire trip to the warehouse was a spectacular showcase of how far he’s come and really illustrated that Glenn knows his shit. The fallout from losing Noah in that way has been felt in every scene he’s been in since, as he struggles to do what is right for humanity, and more importantly, for himself. He’s grown into such a leadership position, and I hope in Season 6 we get to see more of that.

Keep walking.

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Shawn Bourdo

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